GRAY — Gray-New Gloucester High’s journey to the Class B girls’ basketball state championship game began minutes after its loss in the title game 12 months ago.

Fans and boosters held a banquet for the team in Bangor after the game last year, celebrating the school’s first appearance in the final in 14 years.

But, noted Coach Mike Andreasen, not everyone was in the mood to celebrate.

“The kids were withdrawn, especially the underclassmen,” he said. “I think in the back of their minds there was unfinished business.”

Friday, the Patriots will have a chance to take care of it.

Gray-New Gloucester (20-1) will play Houlton (20-1) for the Class B state title at 6:05 p.m. Friday at the Augusta Civic Center in a rematch of last year’s championship game. Houlton won that one 48-35, pulling away in the final minutes.

“This game is one that many wanted,” said Andreasen. “So now we’ll just take our shot. I hope we’ll be better mentally prepared for this one, just be in a better mindset, more calm.”

They should be. The Patriots start four seniors and a sophomore, all of whom played in the state game last year. The seniors – center Skye Conley, forward Izzy DeTroy, and guards Alicia Dumont and Grace Kariotis – have been instrumental in advancing the team from an underdog role to one of the best in Class B statewide. The sophomore, guard Bri Jordan, doesn’t play like one.

“They came in just as we were forming our program,” Andreasen said of the seniors. “And we preached all along, hold yourself to a higher standard. Being good enough isn’t good enough. These kids really wanted more.”

Conley, who led the team in scoring (10.6 points) and was second in rebounding (5.6) in the regular season, said Andreasen told them to reach for great things.

“We hold ourselves to high expectations on the court and in the classroom,” she said. “And we’ve worked our hardest to not only meet them but exceed them.”

Those expectations are passed along to each freshman that enters the program, a fact that Andreasen said “can be daunting.”

But some, such as Jordan, thrive. As a freshman she played a lot, joined by her older sister, Ashley, who graduated last spring. This year Bri Jordan has become one of the Patriots’ top players, leading the team in rebounding (5.7), tied for the lead in assists (3.2) and steals (3.2), and second in scoring (10.1). Then, after scoring 16 points to lead the Patriots to the Class B South championship over Lincoln Academy, Jordan was named the outstanding player of the tournament.

Her older teammates, said Andreasen, were thrilled for her.

“She’s an amazing player,” said Conley. “We grew up with her and her older sister so the chemistry was easy to build on the court. We know she puts in just as much work in the offseason and know that she’s playing her heart out like we are. We treat her like a senior, too. We see us all as equals for sure.”

“We just think of her as another player,” said Dumont. “She plays above her age, she’s confident and composed. It doesn’t matter the age, we just treat her as another player on the court.”

Jordan said it was easy to step into the starting lineup because “I had grown up with them, so when I came in as a freshman I knew all of them.”

Andreasen said Jordan is a gifted athlete. She’s the team’s point guard, but at 5-foot-10 is also one of its tallest players. “I consider her our best defender,” said Andreasen, meaning she likely will guard Houlton’s all-state player, Kolleen Bouchard.

Dumont said the regional final was “definitely the best game we’ve ever seen her play.” But Jordan noted that anyone on this team could have done it.

“Somebody has to take shots and I happened to be making some of mine,” she said. “Coach always says if you’re making them, why not take the next one? I think we all have the ability to have those nights. We don’t have a best player. We all have our different talents and together we make a team. We make a good team.”

And again, that team is playing for a state championship.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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