PORTLANDOnce Gray-New Gloucester seized control against Freeport on Wednesday, coach Mike Andreasen wanted to make sure the second-seeded Patriots didn’t allow it to slip out of their grasp.

After they went up by nine points, Andreasen reminded them that third-seeded Mt. Ararat built big leads that the sixth-seeded Falcons overcame on Monday.

“We looked at the lessons of the other day,” Andreasen said. “I mean, Mt. Ararat had them on the rocks the other day twice, they had them by 11 or 13. And we were up 16-7 at one point, and there was a timeout, and I said, that’s the exact same score as the end of the third quarter against Mt. Ararat-Freeport.”

Gray-NG kept its distance from the Falcons on Wednesday, winning 45-36 in a Class A South semifinal at the Portland Expo to advance to its first regional final since 2019.

The Patriots (17-3) will face No. 1 Brunswick (18-2) in the A South final on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Portland Expo. The Dragons defeated No. 4 Falmouth 49-27 in the other semifinal.

Gray-NG dealt Brunswick one of its two losses this season, winning 48-47 on Jan. 10.


In Wednesday’s game, a big run in the latter part of the first period and the beginning of the second gave the Patriots an 18-7 lead. After that, the closest they allowed the Falcons (11-9) was within seven points.

Freeport made a charge early in the fourth quarter to get within seven, scoring the first four points of the period to cut its deficit to 36-29. But their run was halted when Gray-NG’s Izzy Morelli hit a short jumper.

“We needed to stop their momentum, because they were kind of coming back, and I think we needed that shot,” Morelli said.

Ali Portas added a 3-pointer and Caitlin Taylor made a short jumper, and the Patriots’ seven-point lead was up to 43-29.

Morelli led Gray-New Gloucester with 10 points. Portas and Ella Kenney each had nine, and Taylor and Laney Farrar contributed six apiece.

Freeport’s Madilyn Cormier finished with a game-high 12 points. Isabelle Orlando scored nine off the bench and Emily Groves added eight. Angel Pillsbury, Freeport’s only upperclassman who scored 26 in the Falcons’ quarterfinal win over Mt. Ararat, was held to four points. Andreasen said that the Patriots’ defensive focus was on slowing Pillsbury.


“That’s what we try to do, we try to take out their best player,” Andreasen said. “… we try to take out their best player, and then say, can the other kids do it to you? And four points is wonderful. And I think we did a really good job.”

Gray-NG junior Ellie Steele was the primary defender on Pillsbury.

While defense was the main factor in the Patriots’ 39-25 quarterfinal victory over Greely — they held the Rangers to five first-half points — their offense was the catalyst in the first two quarters of Wednesday’s game, as playmaking by Morelli and Kenney and five 3-pointers propelled Gray-New Gloucester to a 27-18 halftime lead.

“We talked about the inverse relationship between offense and defense. If your offense is really, really good, your defense doesn’t have to be, and vice versa,” Andreasen said, later adding, “So our defense was really good against Greely, our offense was kind of ho-hum.

“We thought, today, our offense was probably a little bit better than it was against Greely, but our defense was as good. So we thought it was pretty good stuff.”

Portas made Gray-NG’s first 3-pointer to tie the game at 5-5. Steele added a trey to give the Patriots the lead, and Kenney started a fast break with a steal and passed the ball to Morelli for a basket to make the score 10-5.


In the second quarter, Kenney and Laney Farrar hit 3s, and Morelli added a basket to cap a 16-2 run and push the Patriots’ advantage to 18-7.

“We got the ball to our shooters well, the people who were hitting our shots,” Morelli said.

After a basket by Pillsbury — Freeport’s first points of the second period — Farrar made her second 3-pointer, putting Gray-New Gloucester up 21-11.

Farrar, a sophomore who spent most of the regular season swinging between the JV and varsity teams, made two 3s and scored six points. She scored eight points in the quarterfinals. She also has made plays on defense.

“Laney’s really stepped up. I’m super proud of her,” Morelli said. “She’s one of my best friends. And her defense is amazing.”

Taylor added two free throws, and Kenney drove the lane for a basket and set up Amber Fortin for a basket in the closing seconds to send the Patriots into halftime with a nine-point lead.


All seven players who entered the game for Gray-New Gloucester scored in the first half.

The Patriots, who only played two seniors in Wednesday’s game, now return to a regional final for the first time since winning the Class B state championship in 2019, their second state title in three years. Gray-NG’s lineup Wednesday included a freshman, two sophomores and two juniors, along with the two seniors.

“We went to the quarterfinals last year, and we were hoping to get a step further, and now we’re two steps further,” Andreasen said.

The Patriots are the only Class A team this season to have success against Brunswick — the Dragons’ only other loss was to Class AA top seed Oxford Hills.

“You know, I already used up the thing when we played them before, ‘Let’s just stay close, and let’s not be embarrassed.’ So I can’t use that again,” Andreasen said. “I just think it’s, we’re at the point now where I think we’re playing with house money.”

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