GRAY — There were unsurprising growing pains for a team that hadn’t played a game together. But it was the emotional pain one of Gray-New Gloucester’s two seniors felt from seeing the physical pain of the other that fueled the Patriots to a long-awaited season-opening win, 47-32, over Fryeburg Academy on Tuesday.

The Gray-New Gloucester (1-0) girls basketball team, which hadn’t competed on the court in any capacity since a playoff loss to Greely on Feb. 19, 2020, didn’t score until more than three minutes into the game, when senior Gabriella Sernyk converted a layup for a 2-0 start.

The Gray-NG lead was 11-2 in the first minute of the second quarter when Sernyk tried finishing off a steal-and-score, only to crumble to the floor after her layup was blocked. Sernyk, who missed most of last season with an injury, didn’t return to the game.

“I know my friend Gabs tore her ACL last season, too, so she was pretty bummed, so I really just focused on playing for her after she hurt her leg,” fellow senior Sarah Fecteau said. “We don’t really know what happened yet, but I was at least focusing on her for that game. I don’t really care about myself, but just watching her get better over the years and then watching that happen was brutal.”

Fecteau, who also missed most of last season after suffering a broken back in a car accident, had a quiet first half, but came alive after the Raiders cut the deficit to 19-16 in the third quarter. She scored seven of her game-high 16 points during an 11-0 run to help push the Patriots’ lead to 32-19 heading into the fourth quarter.

“What’s neat is (Sarah), she kind of in the third quarter took that game over. And she really went after it. … I just think her presence on the court was big,” Patriots coach Mike Andreasen said.

“I think she stepped up,” Andreasen added, “and when they got to within three — (Fryeburg’s Emily) Walker hit a 3 to make it three — I think she responded.”

Fecteau said that it was clear the Patriots needed some sort of spark at that time.

“I think it was kind of just like frustration,” Fecteau said. “Like I knew we could win, and I know we had the power to do it, and I just think it was just nervous, everyone was nervous and no one’s really been in a situation like this for quite a long time because of COVID, so I just thought that no one was going to step ahead so I had to do it. But I couldn’t do that without encouraging other people to step up as well.”

Sophomore Caitlin Taylor had the Patriots’ two other baskets during the 11-0 run. She finished the game with 10 points.

Fryeburg coach Billie L’Heureux said getting her team to keep its scoring runs going proved difficult.

“They know Gray, they know their reputation, they’ve played against them,” L’Heureux said. “So just keep drilling it into them that they can do it, they just got to believe, they got to believe in themselves, they got to believe in their teammates, and just keep playing hard and good things will happen.”

A Walker layup out of a timeout midway through the fourth got the Raiders back to within seven points, 39-32, but the Patriots finished on an 8-0 run.

Nothing seemed to fall for the Raiders early, neither in their two-point first quarter or the nine-point second quarter in which multiple shots seemed go halfway down the net before popping out.

“It’s tough because we’ve been not very consistent in looking for those shots, so getting them the confidence to take those has really taken some work,” L’Heureux said. “So it was heartbreaking for me to see those going in and out, but I was just happy that they at least now are starting to have a little more confidence in taking those shots.”

Fryeburg finally got a shot to fall its way at the end of the first half, when Brooke Emery’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer bounced up and in.

That was Emery’s first basket of the game. She made three more shots in the fourth quarter and finished with a team-high 12 points, and Fecteau said seeing her get going woke up the Patriots and spurred them to finish off the win.

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