GRAY — The Gray-New Gloucester boys basketball team attacked the boards in the second half, pushed the pace and won a battle with Freeport on Saturday, 67-62. 

The Patriots never fully pulled away from the Falcons, and played most of the fourth quarter with a small lead as both teams made shots and hustle plays to keep the game close. 

With 1:15 left in the game, Michael Ryan grabbed one of Gray-New Gloucester’s five fourth-quarter offensive rebounds and found senior Anthony Prescott in the right corner for a 3-pointer that put the Patriots up 65-56. It was the fourth 3-pointer of the second half for Prescott, and finished with 16 points.

Ryan later made a steal with under a minute to play to seal the win for Gray-NG (1-0). 

“Prescott is a dynamic shooter, he has a quick release and he’s going to be a big weapon for us,” Gray-New Gloucester head coach Ryan Deschenes said. “Mike Ryan is tough, has intangibles and he had that great strip at the end, and it shows the toughness he has.”

Freeport (0-1) had a seven-point lead early in the second quarter, its largest of the game, but the Patriots took over the rest of the period and took a one-point lead into halftime.

Despite their strong finish to the second half, the Patriots spent the intermission discussing adjustments.

“Halftime, we just went over their two best players, (Colby) Arsenault and (Blaine) Cockburn, and we just had to shut them down,” Gray-New Gloucester senior Jay Hawkes said. “We had to get offensive rebounds and we had to body up on defensive boards.”

Hawkes finished with a game-high 19 points, including nine in the first quarter and six in the third. He also had three steals and three rebounds in the third.

“Jay is always seen as a shooter, but we think of him as much more than that,” Deschenes said. “He can handle the ball, attack space, get to the rim, he makes the right read and he’s a really good defender. He guarded Arsenault as well as anyone could tonight. You ask someone to guard the other team’s best player, make shots, make plays for others, it’s a lot, but he handled it and played 30 great minutes tonight.”

Freeport entered Saturday’s season opener expecting Gray-New Gloucester to push the pace and go on some runs.

“Gray is going to try to dictate the pace and make you uncomfortable,” said Falcons coach Tyler Tracy, who was coaching his first game for Freeport after several years leading Poland. “We prepared for that, but it’s hard to simulate that. It was a game of runs. They dictate the pace and they’ll go on six, eight, 10-0 runs, and you have to limit those. Even when we controlled the pace we would miss a box out or give up an offensive rebound, and they hit so many shots on second-chance opportunities.” 

Arsenault scored 15 points and grabbed seven boards for Freeport. In the fourth quarter, he hit a 3-pointer and all three of his free throws.

But the Falcons couldn’t surpass the Patriots, as Hawkes continued setting up teammates, including Prescott, who scored eight of his 16 points in the fourth, and Ryan, who scored four of his 11 in the fourth. 

“I see myself as a leader and everyone on the other team knows that,” Hawkes said. “So if they start doubling me then I can pass it out to my teammates and let them work.”

Both coaches said their teams were missing a few players. 

“We’ve got a long way to go, but we can get there,” Tracy said. “There were some good things from some guys, we just need to get in a flow and get on the same page, and I think that will happen if we get 100 percent healthy. The big positive from this is despite the foul trouble we had some opportunities and we were right there. If we (had) stopped playing and we quit, that’s tough to overcome.”

Deschenes was impressed with the Patriots’ resilience.

“I think the big thing is that we were down four rotation guys, for various reasons, so other guys had to step up in different roles and get adjusted,” Deschenes said. “Then they did a great job in the second half in those roles. … I’m starting year 16 as a varsity coach, and I told the guys we had a lot of adversity the first two weeks and we could have caved and lost to a good team tonight, but we felt we had enough to win.

“The guys believed it and they did it.”

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