Gray-New Gloucester overcame Poland’s upset bid and its own hesitancy before pulling out a 45-37 victory Tuesday in a Western Class B girls’ basketball quarterfinal at the Portland Expo.

“A big thing for us was if you’re going to go down, go down swinging,” said Gray-New Gloucester Coach Mike Andreasen. “I think we played like a team that was supposed to win and a team that was afraid to make a mistake that would make us lose.”

Leading 30-28 after three quarters, the second-seeded Patriots (18-1) held No. 10 Poland (10-10) scoreless for over four minutes and extended their lead to 38-28.

Early in the fourth, Gray-New Gloucester’s Grace Kariotis scored in transition on a pass from Maria Valente, and Alicia Dumont converted a tough runner in the lane while being fouled, then completed the three-point play.

Moments later, Isabelle DeTroy tapped a rebound away from a Poland defender and it went right to Skye Conley (9 points) for an easy bucket.

Poland continued to compete to the end, getting 3-pointers from Michaella Arsenault (16 points), and a steal and layup from Nathalie Theriault to cut the lead to 38-33. Caroline Littlefield added a late 3-pointer for the Knights.

Kariotis and Dumont both hit two clutch free throws to bracket Littlefield’s 3-pointer and secure the win for Gray-New Gloucester.

Valente led the Patriots with 13 points. She did not score in the fourth quarter, but her defensive rebounding was key. It was her forceful rebound and strong outlet pass that found Kariotis (10 points) for a layup and a 41-34 lead.

“It feels good to finally have a win at the Expo,” Valente said. “This is the first time we’ve won here since I’ve been playing.”

Gray-New Gloucester will face No. 3 Greely (17-2) at 3 p.m. Thursday at Cross Insurance Arena. The Patriots beat Greely in the season opener, 59-47.

Gray-New Gloucester had beaten Poland twice in the final weeks of the regular season, 47-23 and 37-19.

With Arsenault playing well from the start and an inspired defense, Poland was making the most of the program’s first quarterfinal appearance at the Expo. The Knights twice had the lead in the second quarter and outscored Gray-New Gloucester 9-5 in the third.

“People thought we didn’t have a chance. We played with kind of a chip on our shoulders,” said Poland Coach Michael Susi. “We broke a barrier by getting here. Now we need to win one. It takes time.”

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

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