Stephanie Woods of Wells splits Sammie Wilkins, left, Haylee Cote and Zoe Adams, right, of Gray-New Gloucester.
GRAY - Back in December, the Wells High girls' basketball team was regarded as a potential contender in Western Class B. Wednesday night, the Warriors finally showed why.
With Alison Furness scoring 22 points, the 11th-ranked Warriors toppled sixth-seeded Gray-New Gloucester 53-46 in a tournament prelim.
Wells, which lost to Gray-New Gloucester by two points in the regular season, never trailed by more than three and had an answer for any Patriots run.
"I do think they were the better team tonight," said Gray-New Gloucester Coach Mike Andreasen. "They beat us in most every aspect. They made foul shots. They made layups. When we got close they transitioned and got baskets on us. They looked like a very confident team."
Wells (8-11) will play third-seeded Spruce Mountain (18-0) in a quarterfinal at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Portland Expo.
"We felt really good in warmups," said Wells Coach Don Abbott. "There are times when we have been tight. And I felt we were loose. We came in feeling, 'You know what? We're playing our best ball right now.' "
Wells controlled the tempo, pushing the ball as much as it could, contained Gray-New Gloucester's top scorers with a tight man-to-man defense, and had a big edge inside as Furness, Sophie Lamb (11 points, 14 rebounds), Nicole Moody (seven points, seven rebounds) and Jordan Agger controlled the boards.
Wells led 35-32 entering the final quarter after Furness scored four points in the final 36 seconds of the third.
Sammie Wilkins made it 35-35 just 33 seconds into the fourth. Then the Warriors ran off six points to force Andreasen to call a timeout with 5:33 remaining.
The Patriots (13-6) responded. Haylee Cote (12 points, all in the second half) hit a 3-pointer and Maria Valente a short jumper to pull Gray-New Gloucester within one.
But after a miss on the Patriots' next possession, Furness got out on a fast break to score a basket. After another Patriot miss, Stephanie Woods scored on a fast break and was fouled. She completed the three-point play for a 46-40 lead.
Furness then made a hustle defensive play to alter a layup that missed, leading to two foul shots by Moody with 3:40 left and a 48-40 lead.
"Alison Furness played like a kid who, I thought, didn't want her season to end," said Andreasen.
"At the start of the season we said, 'Who's going to be the rock out there? Who's going to be the centerpiece of her team, make the game go her way?'
"Well, we found out. It was her."
Wells also hit 7 of 8 foul shots down the stretch to hold off the Patriots.
Wells had missed eight foul shots in the first three quarters but only one in the fourth. Moody was especially effective, hitting 5 of 6.
"I just had to clear my head and shoot," said Moody. "When the crowd's being loud you've got to block everything out."
Just as the Warriors seem to have blocked out their regular-season struggles.
"We had some rough games at the beginning of the season," said Furness. "But as we went on we progressively kept playing better and better, and learning."
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:
Maria Valente of Gray-New Gloucester concentrates on the basket Wednesday night while driving against Alison Furness of Wells during their Western Class B prelim. Wells won 53-46 and will meet Spruce Mountain in a quarterfinal.
Stephanie Greaton of Gray-New Gloucester takes the ball to the basket while being defended by Jordan Agger of Wells during their prelim game at Gray.