Gray-New Gloucester’s Jordan Grant, left, and Brianna Jordan will play for another Class B state championship against Mount Desert Island High School. (Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover)

GRAY — Bri Jordan and Jordan Grant have been there, done that.

Jordan was a freshman and started every game but senior night for the Gray-New Gloucester Patriots when the team lost in the 2016 Class B final to Houlton.

Gray-New Gloucester senior Brianna Jordan (12) pushes through and attempts a layup against Greely during a January game in Gray. Portland Press Herald photo by Brianna Soukup

Grant came along the following year and was the first player off the bench when the Patriots avenged the previous season’s loss and defeated Houlton for the school’s first girls basketball championship.

Both were starters last season when Gray-NG was bounced in the semifinals, but having to lead a whole new team without a single senior was tough on them. The positive that came from the loss, however, was that everyone returned this season.

The Patriots have five seniors this season, including Jordan, who has started 84 of the 85 games she has played in her Patriots career.

“Jordan and Bri have played a lot of basketball, and I’m hoping the moment’s not too big for them,” Gray-NG coach Mike Andreasen said. “Obviously, they’ve been there before. The other kids you may see a little bit of nerves but it’s because it’s the first time really being on that stage. My hope is that our maturity, our experience, helps us.”

Jordan brings a leadership unlike many teams have ever had, but this year’s Patriots know that anyone can contribute if Jordan is being double-teamed or closely guarded.

“I just think people might look for me if I’m having a good game, just because I have been there before,” Jordan said. “Anyone can do it, all of us are capable of having a really good game and really stepping up. So, I mean, I don’t think they necessarily just look for me. But we look for who’s hot, who’s hitting shots.”

The fact that the Patriots can attack from different areas comes from this being the players’ second consecutive season playing together. While Jordan can spread the floor to shoot from three and also drive to the basket, and Grant can dominate in the paint, Gray-NG has multiple different players who can score.

Against Wells in the Class B South semifinal, junior guard Eliza Hotham scored 19 points as the Warriors were focusing on limiting Grant’s offense.

“The maturity of Eliza Hotham, of Mikaela Ryan, of Alexa Thayer or Sam Fortin, those kids last year were scared playing their first meaningful varsity minutes,” Andreasen said. “This year they haven’t shied away from kind of stepping into the spotlight.”

Jordan can see the effects of an extra year of experience.

“Anyone can step up, like Eliza did, when needed,” Jordan said. “So, that said, all five of us play, we all know as long as we work as a team, we seem to do pretty well.

“We have everyone back from last year. … It’s definitely helped us. We’ve been together for two years, and we practice every day. We always work hard together. And I think us being friends outside of school, in school as well, has helped us really build the trust in each other to know that we have each other’s back.”

Gray-New Gloucester junior Jordan Grant (22), right, tries to break through for a layup against Greely junior Katie Fitzpatrick (22) during a January game in Gray. Portland Press Herald photo by Brianna Soukup

While Jordan’s high school career will be finished after Saturday’s Class B state final against Mt. Desert Island, Grant is excited to take over the role of leader from Jordan’s role model.

“Bri has definitely been one of my inspirations through high school,” Grant said. “I want a shot to be like her. She’s a good athlete, and she’s just a good captain on this team. She definitely shows a lot of leadership in everything: practices, games, always pushing us and going 100 percent. I feel like sometimes as a junior, I feel a little bit timid. But I want to take on that role more next year. And also this year, I feel like since I have played in the state game that I can bring a lot to the table and get them there.”

Jordan and Grant have also helped this year’s team stay calm through the wins and losses. No win is too much of a high, no loss is too low. That has helped the Patriots stay the course and keep their eyes not on the championship, but just the next game.

“We kind of just take it every game,” Grant said. “It’s just the next game and we’ve got to work hard through practices and it’ll show in our games, and there’s no like, ‘Yeah it’s a big game,’ but it’s just the next game.”

As for the game on Saturday, Gray-NG is prepared for what MDI will throw at them.

“We know that they’re a good team, obviously, and that they have five solid players that can get the job done,” Jordan said. “So I think that we just need to focus on what we need to do in order to get the job done.”

A second Class B trophy would “mean the world” to Jordan, who is playing basketball at St. Joseph’s College next winter. But as both she and Andreasen have seen over the past four years, it’s all about who shows up when the ball is tossed in the air.

“It’s whichever team plays,” Andreasen said. “We’re pretty evenly matched, both the teams have kids that can score for them. The question is, which team has more kids that want to step out of the spotlight and you get the job done.”

With the Patriots’ experience, in the lows and the highs, they like their chances on Saturday.

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