PORTLAND — Gray-New Gloucester coach Ian McCarthy said after Wednesday’s semifinal win that the Patriots were going to celebrate that night and get back to work the next day.

“Yeah, I lied,” McCarthy said Friday with a laugh.

Instead, Gray-NG’s coaches stayed up late coming up with a game plan for Friday’s Class A South final against Noble.

The top-seeded Patriots’ defense held the third-seeded Knights in check and the offense ran, ran and ran to a 71-59 victory, earning the school’s first boys basketball regional title since 1975.

“We had a great game plan,” junior guard John Patenaude said. “The coaches were up until like 4 a.m. two nights ago, I think. … We just came out, did what we talked about, came with energy. We wanted it, came with a ton of energy and we stuck together as a team. It’s what we do.”

Gray-New Gloucester (19-2) will face A North champion Hampden (19-2) in the Class A championship game at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland next Saturday at 2:45 p.m.


“It’s crazy,” senior Carter Libby said. “It’s something that has been in the back of our minds all year. We tried to think about playing basketball one game at a time, but in the back of our minds, state championship’s always there.

“So it’s going to be crazy to go out there and prove to, I guess, the state what we can do.”

Patenaude put up a game-high 20 points and was named the Jack Coyne Most Outstanding Player of the Class A South tournament, while Nate Hebert scored 17 points for Gray-New Gloucester.

Those two are more well-known for what they do on offense, especially with defensive standouts Aidan and Noah Hebert on the roster.

“Normally it is the twins that steal the defensive show, and me and Nate are more of the offense,” Patenaude said. “But if that’s the game plan we want to go by, then me and Nate can step up and do that, too. We play defense, too, not just offensive players.”

But the result of McCarthy and his coaches’ late-night session was a triangle-and-two defense with Patenaude and Nate Hebert the two in charge of playing man-to-man defense on Noble’s leading scorers, Jamier Rose and Bryce Guitard.


Patenaude and Hebert were on board.

“Johnny and Nate are absolute competitors, and they were up to the challenge. They wanted it,” McCarthy said. “You could just see it in their eyes when we were still trying to debate on what to, you could tell that they wanted it, they weren’t going to let the team down.”

In Noble’s 82-78 win over the Patriots on Feb. 5, Rose scored 27 points and Guitard had 17. On Friday, Guitard scored 17 again, but Rose was held scoreless until the fourth quarter, during which he scored 14.

“Coaches trusted me and Johnny to lock up their two best players,” Nate Hebert said. “We did good up until the fourth, they went on a run, got to give them congrats to that, but we stayed composed, stayed together and got the dub.”

Noah and Aidan Hebert, along with Libby, still had an important role in the defense, mainly providing backup defense and battling for rebounds against the much taller Knights.

“Everyone has their back on this team,” Aidan Hebert said of Patenaude and Nate Hebert. “I kept yelling that I’m right behind them, I got their back. So I had full faith in them.”


Rebounding was a major emphasis, Aidan Hebert said, after the Knights controlled the boards in their win over Gray-NG earlier this month.

Aidan Hebert grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds, Noah Hebert pulled down 10 and Carter Libby had nine.

And once the Patriots made a stop, they’d start running. Several times a long outlet pass led to a 2-on-1 or a 3-on-2.

“We like to run,” Nate Hebert said. “We just played the way we play, got it up, made plays.”

Gray-New Gloucester started building its lead in the final two minutes of the first quarter, when the Patriots scored 10 straight points before Guitard’s late 3 cut the Gray-NG lead to 22-14 after one.

Their lead grew to 32-23 at halftime.


They pulled away in the third quarter, going on a few long runs and increasing the gap to 20 points, 56-36, heading into the final quarter.

“I thought GNG did a really nice job,” Noble coach John Morgan said. “Based on the personnel we had tonight, I thought they were really good defensively.”

Rose made a 3-pointer early in the fourth, his first points of the game. He kept scoring and Guitard hit some big baskets, and Noble got the deficit down to single digits, 64-56, with less than two minutes to play.

“Our guys are never going to quit,” Morgan said. “I told them, ‘There’s something to be said about your character and how we’re going to play.’ I’m like, ‘Don’t let what we’ve done this year get spoiled because they’ve played well and the crowd’s behind them. Let’s at least make this interesting,’ and the guys did.”

The Patriots made 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

While not scoring in the first quarter, Rose remained an active participant in the game and finished with nine steals and eight rebounds.

Gray-New Gloucester’s only other state title game appearance came in 1975 when they won the Class C championship with an 85-78 win over Narraguagus.

McCarthy said he doesn’t know much about Hampden, which defeated Messalonskee 44-43 on Friday in Augusta. So, probably some more late nights are on tap.

“We’ve got to get back to the film room and we’ll learn as much as we can over the next week,” McCarthy said. “I know they’re going to be good.”

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