POLAND — Poland made constant runs at Gray-New Gloucester, always hanging around with the Patriots on Wednesday night.

However, Gray-NG held off every run and took home a 71-64 victory in boys basketball. 

Poland (3-2) was able to cut a 15-point deficit in the second quarter, 37-22, to a four-point deficit in the third, 43-39. A big part of that comeback was Poland’s Hunter Gibson, who scored 17 points in the second half.

We made some good plays, Hunter Gibson generated a lot of offensive plays and had 15 rebounds,” Poland coach Bill Flynn said. “I think he finally got some open lanes in the fourth quarter and made some plays. It got away from us in the first half and they’re so good on defense that it’s hard to come back. That’s a really, really good team. We had a tough start and that’s the game, but I can’t say enough about our guys’ resilience.”

Gray-New Gloucester (2-3) staved off the comeback with help from back-to-back 3-pointers by Anthony Prescott and Jay Hawkes, who stole the ball off the inbounds pass following Prescott’s 3-pointer and hit one of his own. The quick treys built the Patriots’ lead back up to 14, at 55-41, with 2:33 left in the third quarter. 

We knew they like to play like we do, so they kind of mirror the pace,” Gray-New Gloucester coach Ryan Deschenes said. “We knew it would be a pace we liked but they score in bunches. Every time we got a lead, they’d cut it down and they play well together. Our guys responded and when they got it to six, we got it to 14 quick. It was a big momentum change, for sure.”

Hawkes sat for much of the second quarter with foul trouble, but in the third and fourth quarter led Gray-New Gloucester on both sides of the ball. The senior scored 11 of his 18 points in the second half, five of which came at the free-throw line, and the Patriots kept the lead throughout the second half. 

Offensively, it was pretty spread out,” Deschenes said. “Jay got to the rim and when Jay gets to the rim then other people get open. We spread it out and when we’re doing that, we are a tough team to cover.”

In the fourth, Poland charged back again after falling back 63-46 with 6:31 remaining in the game. Gibson scored 13 of Poland’s 18 points in the fourth quarter, including a steal and a layup with 70 seconds left that pulled Poland within 66-60. Hawkes hit a couple free throws at the end of the game to seal the victory. 

We were down 16 at the start of the quarter and this team, we’ve played great, but I can’t say enough about how mentally strong we are,” Flynn said. “We were down I think 15 against NYA and made the same kind of comeback. They knew they could do it. Gray is outstanding on defense. When it was 16 it was, ‘let’s get it to 12.’ Our guys believed in it. Our pressure defense was good, we tried to just upset what they were doing and it worked, but they’re good, though.”

In the first quarter, Gray-NG popped out to an 11-3 lead quickly, but Poland’s John Patenaude and Shane Yorkey both scored four points and pulled the Knights within two at the end of the first, 15-13. 

Nate Hebert got his shot working in the second quarter as the Patriots started to find a rhythm offensively. Hebert hit two 3-pointers in the second quarter and Gray-New Gloucester took a 42-28 lead into halftime. Hebert finished with 13 points. 

It helps rally the team a little bit, gets us going, but I can’t get the shots if they’re not driving and kicking,” Hebert said.

Gibson scored six of his nine second-quarter points from the free-throw line. 

Gray-New Gloucester’s defensive intensity was a big reason for the Patriots’ second win of the season, according to Hebert.

“On the defensive end, we came ready to play,” Hebert said. “We knew how to play and how to match up, we knew where to force people, knew where to double.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.