GRAY — Gray-New Gloucester grabbed momentum early in the second quarter Tuesday night and held on tight the rest of the way to earn a 52-35 victory over York in a physical Class B Western Maine Conference girls’ basketball game before a close-to-capacity crowd.

Maria Valente had 13 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots to lead the Patriots (4-0). Alicia Dumont added 10 points while Skye Conley had nine points and sevenrebounds.

But it was Gray-New Gloucester’s tenacious 2-3 zone defense that slowed down the Wildcats (3-1), who came into the evening averaging 57 points per game.

“This was a big win for us. We wanted to treat this like a tournament game because last year in the tournament, I think the kids were overcome by the surroundings and by playing in a big game,” Gray-New Gloucester Coach Mike Andreasen said. “We aren’t in this to win championships, we’re here to play basketball and what happens at the end, happens at the end.”

With Valente matching up with Shannon Todd (14 points), Conley on Chloe Smedley (four points, 10 rebounds) and help from Grace Kariotis, Isabella De Troy, Alicia Dumont and Alanna Cameri, the Patriots held York to just seven second-half points, two in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.

“This was the most physical game we’ve seen all year and we didn’t respond well,” York Coach Rick Clark said. “Hopefully we learned here that there’s more to it than finesse. We played their game in their gym, and it’s tough to beat a team like Gray going that route.”

The game was living up to hype as the Wildcats held a 14-12 edge after one quarter, thanks largely to Todd’s three straight 3-pointers from the right wing and pressing defense. It looked like they might pull away as Smedley, Todd and Lily Posternak (6 steals) combined for six points in the opening 1:30 of the second quarter for a 20-14 lead.

“We started calming down and playing our game,” Kariotis said. “We were more relaxed; our nerves weren’t getting to us as much. We just had to stay compact and work together.”

Indeed, the Patriots pieced together 14-5 run over the final 6:30 of the half to take a 26-25 lead on Kariotis’ baseline buzzer-beater. It wasn’t easy, as Posternak, point guard Paige McElwain and the Wildcats’ defense pressed the Patriots and set up turnovers by both teams that set up a furious back-and-forth tempo that produced few shots.

In the second half, Gray-New Gloucester continued to take advantage, nudging ahead 37-33 after three quarters and the tension drained out of the game early in the fourth as the Patriots closed the game on a 15-2 run.

“Our defense combined with foul shots in the second half (7 of 8) definitely made a difference,” Valente said. “We closed out shooters better and kept playing hard.”

Clark remained optimistic.

“There’s nothing wrong with finding out you have flaws you need to work on,” Clark said. “We got flustered. We just have to learn from it and move on. With the leadership this team has, I think we will.”