GRAY – Gray-New Gloucester senior point guard Sammie Wilkins said Monday’s gritty 52-39 win against Freeport is another step toward moving to a more exclusive neighborhood in the Western Class B community.

Behind Haylee Cote’s 20 points on 6-of-8 3-point shooting, the Patriots improved to 10-2.

“This win shows us that we are pretty good, like we think we are, and I guess the ‘penthouse teams,’ as you could call them, we’re getting closer to them,” Wilkins said, putting defending West champ Lake Region, York and Greely in that group. “We’re on our way. We’re in the elevator.”

Cote got off to a good start, making a 3-pointer on Gray-NG’s first possession and adding another with 35 seconds left in the opening quarter for a quick 13-6 lead.

But in the first half the offense was carried and the emotional tenor set by sophomore forward Maria Valente, who scored all of her 11 points, which matched the unofficial count of how many times she fell, dove or ended up sprawled on the court in the first half.

It was in the third quarter that Cote took over, scoring 11 points on just four shots, knocking down three 3-pointers and adding a strong drive to the basket when the Freeport defense rushed at her.

“Haylee Cote was the difference in this game,” Gray-New Gloucester Coach Mike Andreasen said.

“She just doesn’t get rattled. I have a hard time reading her and that’s a good thing.”

Cote, a 5-foot-6 senior, turned in the play of the game when she took off after a loose rebound rolling to the right corner of the Patriot end. On a full sprint she managed to tip the ball back in bounds to teammate Zoe Adams, then get herself stopped and back on the court to receive a return pass from Adams and then knock down her fifth 3-pointer of the game.

“It was pretty sweet,” Cote said.

“I just ran my butt off to get it, saved it and it happened.”

Cote’s hustle play pushed the lead to 40-23.

The Patriots’ lead maxed at 47-27 on a Wilkins jumper early in the fourth quarter.

Freeport beat Lake Region last week but has now lost two straight in what Coach Jim Seavey has termed “our Jekyll and Hyde, roller coaster season.”

The Falcons (6-6) were hindered by top-scorer Nina Davenport getting into quick foul trouble and sitting for nearly 12 minutes of the first half.

She did score seven points in the third quarter but fouled out with nearly five minutes to play, never fully integrating herself into what was a very physical game, especially at its outset.

“When you don’t have your go-to player out there, your leading scorer and everything else, it makes it a little tougher when you’re trying to fight from behind,” Seavey said.

Freeport guard Aubrey Pennell had a team-high 11 points with three 3-pointers.

Leigh Wyman flashed a couple of nice drives to the basket for seven points, but as a team Freeport was 16-of-47 from the floor, missing a large number of contested baskets down low.

“If you had told me we would hold Valente to 11 points and lose by 13 I would have said, ‘No way,’ ” Seavey said. “Cote made up the difference.”

Staff Writer Steve Craig can be contacted at 791-6413 or at:

scraig@mainetoday.com