WHO: Gray-New Gloucester (20-1) vs. Houlton (20-1)
WHEN: Friday, 6:05 p.m.
WHERE: Augusta Civic Center
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Gray-New Gloucester (seeded first in South) defeated Freeport (57-24), Lake Region (33-29) and Lincoln Academy (46-32) in playoffs; Houlton (seeded first in North) defeated Mt. Desert Island (47-39), Hermon (37-33, OT) and Foxcroft Academy (42-31) in playoffs
Gray-New Gloucester: Skye Conley, sr. C (10.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.7 steals), Izzy DeTroy, sr. F (8.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 3.2 steals), Alicia Dumont, sr. G (6.5 points, 1.8 assists), Grace Kariotis, sr. G (7.2 points), Bri Jordan, so. G (10.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 3.2 steals).
Houlton: Kolleen Bouchard, jr. G (24.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists), Aspen Flewelling, jr. F (11.1 points, 5.0 rebounds), Rylee Warman, sr. G (11.1 points, 3.0 steals, 3.0 assists), Makayla Watson, sr. C (4.1 points, 4.1 rebounds), Kristen Brewer, jr. G (3.1 points, 2.0 rebounds).
WHAT GRAY-NEW GLOUCESTER MUST DO TO WIN: Simply put, the Patriots have to hit their shots, especially from the outside. In losing to Houlton in the state game last year, Gray-New Gloucester shot just 32 percent and missed all six 3-point attempts. Part of that might have been nerves – the Patriots were making their first state game appearance in 14 years – but with five players returning from that game, that won’t be an excuse this year. Bri Jordan has really stepped up lately to give the offense a boost but this team doesn’t rely on any one shooter. Defensively, the Patriots can’t let Bouchard take over. Jordan likely will guard her but may need help inside. Look for the Patriots’ man-to-man defense to pressure the Houlton ballhandlers to make each pass difficult.
WHAT HOULTON MUST DO TO WIN: The Shiretowners suffered a big loss when junior forward Kristen Graham, daughter of Coach Shawn Graham, suffered a knee injury in the final regular-season game. Her loss affects how the Shiretowners defend teams and inbound the ball. Bouchard is one of the state’s top players, capable of controlling a game inside or on the perimeter with her 3-point shooting. But she’s will need help offensively against the Patriots’ tight man-to-man defense, which gave up more than 40 points just once this season. The Shiretowners will likely slow the pace down, hoping to get into a half-court game, and run only when the opportunity arises. Defensively, Houlton will need to find a way to control Gray-New Gloucester’s aggressive drives.