GRAY — Coach Mike Andreasen said good defense gives Gray-New Gloucester a chance to win.

The Patriots stymied Wells for much of Thursday’s game, and they made their free throws down the stretch to get past the Warriors 43-35 in a Western Maine Conference girls basketball game.

Gray-NG (10-2) scored its final 11 points at the free throw line, and made 11 of 17 foul shots in the fourth quarter.

“Luckily, it came down to our defense was good, and we were in the bonus,” Andreasen said.

Junior point guard Ali Portas made seven of those the 11 fourth-quarter free throws — out of eight attempts. She also hit a 3-pointer in the final period and finished the game with a team-high 17 points.

“It’s a very big win after coming off a loss at Mt. Ararat, and not playing or best basketball,” Portas said, referring to the Patriots’ 41-26 setback on Tuesday. “We really wanted to come out strong with this game and get a win.”


Gray-NG led 20-17 at halftime, and a 3 by Portas early in the third increased the lead to 23-17.

That score went unchanged for more than five minutes, until Alyssa Howard made a pair of free throws to push the Patriots’ advantage to 25-17. During that scoreless stretch by both teams, the Warriors (10-2) were called for seven fouls. That put Gray-NG in the bonus, meaning every Warriors foul for the remainder of the game put the Patriots at the free throw line, which ended up making a significant difference in the fourth quarter.

“Some of those fouls that we committed like 90 feet from our basket (is) stuff that we got to clean up,” Wells coach Sandi Purcell said.

Megyn Mertens made a pair of foul shots to end Wells’ drought with about 2:20 remaining in the third quarter. Maren Maxon later added a field goal, but those four points were all that the Warriors managed to score in the third. Gray-New Gloucester netted only seven, but still increased its lead to 27-21.

F0r more than three minutes of the third-quarter scoring drought, the Patriots were without Portas, who left the game with an injury. She returned with 3:07 left in the period, and, it turned out, still had her best moments ahead of her.

Gray-NG freshman Ella Kenney, who finished with 10 points, dribbled the ball nearly the entire length of the court — and through and past the Warriors’ press — and made a layup that gave the Patriots a 29-21 advantage 20 seconds into the fourth.


“She’s very long and she can drive and shoot,” Portas said of Kenney, “and she really helps us coming off the bench or if she steps in to start,” as Kenney did Thursday.

Gray-New Gloucester’s Ella Kenney puts up a shot over Wells’ Cali Leighton during their game in Gray on Thursday. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Mertens sparked the Warriors offense with a trey that cut the deficit to 29-26 a minute and a half into the final period. Portas answered with a 3-pointer — which ended up being the Patriots’ last field goal of the game — with five minutes remaining. Wells scored four straight points in the next minute to get to within two points, 32-30.

Izzy Morelli then (six points) made a pair of free throws that Andreasen said gave the Patriots some breathing room.

“At least it was two possessions,” Andreasen said. “Our defense was good enough, that once it was a two-possession game, we were OK.”

Payton Fazzina’s second 3 of the game again put Wells within two points, 35-33, with less than two minutes to play.

The Warriors had chances to tie or take the lead throughout the fourth, but Gray-NG continued to play good defense and chase down rebounds. With time running out, Wells was forced to start fouling.


Portas said the Patriots’ objectives in the final period were “to get stops, and if you got fouled to just take your time and knock down your foul shots.”

She hit one of two free throws to make it a three-point lead, and Kenney later made another to push it to four. Maxon’s field goal for Wells made it 37-35 with 51 seconds left.

Those were the Warriors’ final points, and Portas put the game away with six free throws.

“They’re a tough team,” Purcell said. “I mean, they made us battle for every look we got, the ball just didn’t go our way today.”

Wells, which is tied for ninth in the latest Varsity Maine girls basketball poll, scored the first points of the game on a 3 by Maxon less than 30 seconds in.

Gray-NG’s first first points didn’t come for another two minutes, but throughout the remainder of the first period, each starter — Morelli, Kenney, Portas, Amber Fortin and Caitlin Taylor — scored a basket as the Patriots went on a 10-0 run that was finally ended when Mertens made a foul shot with three seconds remaining in the first, which concluded with Gray-New Gloucester up 10-4.


Isa Ross made a 3-pointer to push the lead to 13-4 in the second, but Wells took a big chunk out of Gray-NG’s lead through a pair of 3s, by Hailey Marshall and Mertens, to make it 13-10.

The Warriors tied the game at 14-14 with three minutes remaining, but the Patriots scored six of the final nine points, capped by a steal and layup by Kenney to go into halftime leading 20-17.

While the loss, which snaps a six game win streak, is tough for Wells, Purcell said that Thursday’s game also was beneficial.

“You know what, we have a team with a bunch of young kids; playing against a tough, tough GNG team is a really great learning opportunity for us,” Purcell said.

The Warriors, among the top contenders in Class B South, played only two upperclassmen, and all four players who scored are either freshman — Mertens and Fazzina (six points) — or sophomores — Maxon (nine) and Marshall (three).

Wells next hosts Fryeburg (2-8) on Tuesday. Gray-New Gloucester, which is fourth in the A South Heal points standings, also plays Tuesday, at York (3-7)

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