Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By GREG REID/Special to the Press Herald
CUMBERLAND — Trailing 10-2 four minutes into the game, the Gray-New Gloucester girls had a choice. They could adapt to Greely's inside game or they could get used to the idea of a very long night ahead of them.
They chose correctly.
Maria Valente scored 17 points, including 8-of-9 shooting from the line, and Haylee Cote hit four 3-pointers among her 15 points to lead the Patriots to a 42-30 victory Tuesday night in a Western Maine Conference schoolgirl basketball game.
Jackie Storey led the Rangers with 13 points, 10 rebounds and two steals.
The Rangers, celebrating Senior Night, opened strong, with all 16 of their first-quarter points coming from close range as Jackie and Ashley Storey combined for 12.
"They were shredding our press," Gray-New Gloucester Coach Mike Andreasen said. "We live and die by the press, and if we stuck with it much longer, we were going to die."
The Patriots settled into a 2-3 halfcourt zone, packing the middle, suddenly making life difficult for the Storeys.
A lot of that work fell to Valente, who was matched with Ashley Storey most of the night.
"Help-side defense is the key to that," Valente said. "You need to have someone in front of both Ashley and Jackie at all times. We don't want to let them get the ball in their hands."
Stephanie Greaton made it 18-18 with 4:10 left in the half. Valente drove the lane, then sank a foul shot for a three-point play to cap a 7-0 run that put Gray-New Gloucester up 21-18 at the half. The Patriots never relinquished the lead.
The Patriots didn't want to close the regular season with losses at Greely and Lake Region, which likely would have forced them to open the tournament on the road.
"We wanted to come out and play our hardest, and execute," Haylee Cote said. "Our defense played really well."
Greely defended well but the offense went cold.
"We get going offensively inside with Jackie and Ashley, and then people adjust," Greely Coach Joel Rogers said. "I've got to find someone to put the ball in the basket to take pressure off Ashley and Jackie. Until we do that, we're going to be in trouble."
In the fourth, Valente hit Gray-New Gloucester's only field goals, a 15-foot jumper 20 seconds in and a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 5:50 to play. From there the Patriots hit 10 of 16 from the line.
"Once we made the change, the kids defended perfectly," Andreasen said. "We sagged down and made them beat us from the outside. And I think it was an off night shooting for Greely. We defended well but there were times when they were just unlucky."
It was the third straight win for Gray-New Gloucester (13-4), which entered ranked No. 6 in Heal points. The Patriots' last loss? On Jan. 25, when they fell at home 44-41 in overtime to the fifth-ranked Rangers (13-4), who lost their second straight after falling 44-31 at Lake Region on Feb. 1. They close the regular season Friday at Cape Elizabeth.