Spruce Mountain’s Tate Walton, left, knocks the ball loose on a drive by Gray-New Gloucester’s Hunter Colby during Saturday’s tournament game in Portland. Portland Press Herald photo by John Ewing

 

PORTLAND — Defend, rebound and take care of the basketball.

No. 4 Gray-New Gloucester followed those simple principles to its second Class B South boys’ basketball quarterfinal win in as many years over Spruce Mountain on Saturday, 45-34, at the Portland Expo.

The Patriots held the fifth-seeded Phoenix to one point in the second quarter while simultaneously attacking the paint at the other end to build an 11-point halftime lead.

Hunter Colby led the Patriots (13-6) with 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Zack Pomerleau added 12 points and Nick Pelletier 10 points. Brandon Frey and Jack Bryant led the Phoenix (14-5) with nine points each.  

Gray-New Gloucester advances to the regional semifinals on Thursday, where it will meet No. 8 Wells, the two-time defending regional champion, at 7:30 p.m. at Cross Insurance Arena.

The Patriots controlled the game from the second quarter on despite getting just three points from leading scorer John Martin. The senior guard was hurt after an awkward fall underneath the basket late in the third quarter, but returned to action in the fourth.

“We have a pretty senior-led team, so when we have a bad stretch, we huddle,” Pomerleau said. “We’re all one group, and we don’t care who scores and who takes the shots.”

“They took John away but our second- and third-leading scorers stepped up,” Gray-New Gloucester coach Ryan Deschenes said.

Spruce Mountain led 9-7 after a feeling-out first quarter for both teams, but only made two of its next 15 shots over the next two quarters.

“We couldn’t buy one,” Spruce Mountain coach Scott Bessey said. “We started to do a little one-on-one, a lot of dribbling and stopped executing, really. And it just snowballed from there.”

Pelletier’s 3-pointer gave the Patriots a 10-9 lead. Then they started to attack the paint with back-to-back hoops by Colby and Pomerleau’s drive down the middle of the lane to make it 16-9.

“They started off with a lot of energy, which I knew they would,” Deschenes said of Spruce Mountain. “They extended their matchup zone trying to stick next to our shooters. We were trying to get the ball inside and struggled for a stretch, and then in the second quarter, once we got the ball inside, I think that gave us a lift. And then defensively, we were really locked in that quarter.”

A pair of Colby free throws extended the lead to 18-9 before Frey scored Spruce’s first and only point of the period by making one of two at the free-throw line.

The Phoenix missed all six of their field goal attempts in the second quarter.

“They wanted us from last year and we knew that,” Pomerleau said. “They won the first quarter, but we just needed to regroup. We knew we were going to have to battle this game.”

“That’s the biggest thing, hold them to one shot and then get a score at the other end,” Pomerleau said.

Gray-New Gloucester certainly did the former, building a 12-0 advantage on the offensive boards in the first half. Martin’s only hoop, a 3-pointer with six seconds left, sent Gray-New Gloucester into halftime with a 21-10 lead.

“The biggest thing we talked about all week is we’ve got to defend,” Deschenes said “We’ve got to make them shoot over us, keep them out of the paint, make them take tough shots all night, keep them off the boards, then rebound and take care of the ball.”

“Defend, rebound and take care of the ball,” he added. “The first two parts, we did fantastic. The third part, we had our stretches. I thought we did the first two as good as we have all year.”

Foul trouble for two of Spruce’s best interior players, Andrew Shaw and Tate Walton, further impeded them in the paint.

Baskets by Shaw and Frey to start the second half pulled the Phoenix within seven, but those were the only baskets they would get in the quarter and they couldn’t slice any more into the lead. Buckets by Matt Johnson and Colby made it 29-15 heading into the fourth.

The Phoenix started to find the range in the fourth quarter and got to within eight on a Bryant 3-pointer with 4:44 left, but Pelletier and Pomerleau answered with back-to-back treys to pull away for the last time.

 

Spruce Mountain’s Tate Walton, left, goes up with a shot against Gray-New Gloucester’s Wyatt Edwards during Saturday’s tournament game in Portland. Portland Press Herald photo by John Ewing

Gray-New Gloucester’s Hunter Colby hauls in a rebound over Spruce Mountain’s Carson Gross during Saturday’s tournament game in Portland. Portland Press Herald photo by John Ewing