PORTLAND — From the opening minutes of Saturday’s Class A South quarterfinal against Gray New-Gloucester, Kennebunk left little doubt why it is considered the greatest threat to top-seeded and unbeaten York for the regional title.

Using suffocating full-court pressure that helped force seven Patriots turnovers in the first four minutes, the Rams raced out to a 15-0 lead and never looked back in a 86-60 win at the Portland Expo.

No. 2 Kennebunk (16-3) will face No. 3 Falmouth in the regional semifinals on Wednesday at the Portland Expo. N. 7 Gray-New Gloucester ends its season at 10-9.

Kyle Pasieniuk led the balanced Rams with 17 points while Adam Lux added 16 points and Max Murray chipped in with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Nick Kariotis led the Patriots with 25 points.

Playing at a breakneck pace, the Rams not only converted layups off of the turnovers but were on fire from three-point range, making five of eight in the quarter and 11 of their 14 shots overall.

“The difficult part is, we like to play fast, too, but we knew they were better at being fast than us,” Gray-New Gloucester coach Ryan Deschenes said. “So it’s finding that balance. We would push off a miss when we had numbers. But we just worked really hard on transition defense. We did a decent job, but they just kind of got us on rotations and made shots.”

“The start was huge, because then they’re dictating the pace,” he added.

Kariotis finally ended the run with an inside hoop 3:34 into the game, but the Rams’ bench kept the gas pedal to the floor and Murray tallied 11 points in the quarter to give them a 29-13 lead at the end of the quarter.

“(The press) gets the kids used to the bigger court, and it just lets people know that we can press,” Kennebunk coach David Leal said. “We’re a fast-paced team. Falmouth is really going to slow the ball down on us (in the semifinals) so we just needed to practice it tonight.”

“The whole team just bought into (the full-court pressure),” Murray said. “We just keep telling each other we have to keep playing as a team and keep the momentum because that will help us in the long run and help us keep our confidence throughout the tournament.”

A tip-in by Kariotis and steal and layup by Nick Pelletier (eight points) got the Patriots within 13 early in the second quarter. But Ian Murray banked in a 3-pointer from the left wing and Pasieniuk scored back-to-back hoops to quickly widen the margin back to 20. Kennebunk led 46-28 at halftime.

“It helps a lot when your whole team can make an impact,” Murray said. “It gives the whole team confidence. Every player coming off the bench we know they can get the job done.”

“Kyle had an incredible game. Max had a great game,” Leal said. “Adam Lux (was) unbelievable inside and out. We’re 10 deep.”

The Rams widened the margin to 75-46 at the end of the third.

Despite the outcome, Deschenes said he was pleased with the Patriots’ first season in Class A and credited his three seniors, Kariotis, Pelletier and Matt Johnson, for leading Gray-New Gloucester through the best four-year boys basketball run in the program’s history.

“I think some people felt this would be a rebuilding year with what we lost (to graduation) and going to Class A,” Deschenes said. “But these seniors are the first group that has been to four tournaments in G-NG history. The top teams in Class A are too good, and we knew that this year. Our goal was to hopefully win more than we lose, get here and have a chance. We met that and these seniors reflected that really well. They’re a big reason why we were able to surpass expectations because those three seniors got so much better and led our young guys to the next step.”


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