Eliza Hotham of Gray-New Gloucester High School pulls down a rebound between Alexa Thayer, left, of GNG and Julia Clark of Old Orchard Beach during the first half in Gray on Tuesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

GRAY — Gray-New Gloucester came out in a full-court press defense on Old Orchard Beach’s first possession and kept that same intensity throughout the first half and cruised to a 56-19 girls’ basketball win Tuesday.

The press created turnovers and turned them into efficient offensive possession, and helped the Patriots (12-1) amass a 45-6 halftime lead.

“This was maybe our best half of offensive basketball of the year,” Gray-NG coach Mike Andreasen said. “We don’t put up a lot of points, but we put up 45 at half. I thought we moved the ball well, we made good decisions, and our press was the key to all that working.”

The Patriots made eight steals in the first half alone thanks to the full-court pressure. Gray-NG’s Bri Jordan drained a 3-pointer, teammate Eliza Hotham hit a layup, stole the ball off the inbounds pass and scored another layup to quickly make it 7-0 just two minutes in.

That set the tone for the type of game it was going to be.

“(The press) is how we kind of come out and get the game started,” Patriots junior Jordan Grant said. “It shows our intensity, and I feel like we really get going with that.”

The Patriots’ offense clicked perfectly in the first quarter, with the ball being swung around the perimeter and in and out of the paint seamlessly to find the open player.

Often, that open player was Jordan, who hit two 3s and a mid-range baseline jumper in the first five minutes and finished with 12 point. Hotham scored seven in the first, as well, and also finished with 12.

“They got more and more confident as the game went on, and they hit shots,” Andreasen said. “Bri Jordan had some big shots for us early.”

Gray-NG also dominated the boards in the first half, so much so that the Patriots didn’t allow OOB to grab a defensive rebound until 19 seconds remained in the first quarter.

Grant grabbed four offensive boards and scored all 10 of her points in the opening two quarters.

“In the first half, we kept finding different seams and we found rebounds,” Grant said. “… We talked really well and played well defensively, moved the ball quickly and just played well as a team.”

Grant had one sequence late in the half in which she missed a free throw, got her own rebound, got another rebound and then finished at the rim.

The second half was a different story. Having built a 39-point lead, the Patriots turned the intensity down.

“In the second half I was disappointed in our effort,” Andreasen said. “I think we took our foot off the gas a little too much and we lost the second half.”

Seagulls senior Samantha Donnell scored an old-fashioned three-point play midway through the third quarter before hitting a 3-pointer in the fourth to finish with a team-high six points. Shani Plante finished with five for OOB.

The Patriots, meanwhile, only scored 11 second-half points, which was concerning for Andreasen, who has playoffs in the back of his mind. If his team can’t play a full 32 minutes now, he’s worried about doing so when the stakes are win or go home.

“I know sometimes it’s hard to keep the intensity with a lead like that, but we have to be able to keep it,” Andreasen said. “You could be up 15 at halftime, then you come out and they hit a 3, steal the ball and hit a two and all of a sudden the momentum changes. … Some of our younger kids are playing for minutes, because in the playoffs we need to develop the next kid.”

Brianna Jordan of Gray-New Gloucester High School saves the ball from going out of bounds during the first half of Tuesday’s game against Old Orchard Beach in Gray. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)

Jordan Grant of Gray-New Gloucester High School dives for a loose ball between Joyce Doucette, left, and Julia Clark of Old Orchard Beach during the first half in Gray on Tuesday. (Daryn Slover/Sun Journal)