GRAY — Patriots Nick Pelletier, Wyatt Kenney and Jay Hawkes all turned in double-digit performances vs. visiting Freeport on Thursday night, Jan. 2, propelling G-NG to a 58-50 triumph.

Pelletier led all scorers with 20, while Kenney finished with 12 and Hawkes with 11. Nick Kariotis contributed seven, Josh Michaud six and Terrell Claxton two.

“It was a game of two different styles,” G-NG head coach Ryan Deschenes said. “The biggest thing with Freeport tonight was keeping them out of the paint, but we thought if we could apply pressure, we could speed them up and have them make quick decisions – which we had success with. So it was kind of finding that balance.”

Freeport opened the game with a 6-zip run that included buckets by Liam Holt and Heath Cockburn. Hawkes fired off a trio of outside attempts during those beginning minutes, but came up short each time. G-NG finally got on the board when Kenney underhanded a feed to an on-the-move Kariotis, who dropped in two.

The Falcons threw a possession away after that, and the Patriots turned the ball over on a travel. Pelletier ducked in front of a Freeport pass to steal control back for G-NG, eventually leading to a Kenney two. Colby Arsenault next laid up a Falcons two for 8-4, but Pelletier drained a three and Hawkes a two in response. G-NG seized the lead 9-8.

Deschenes applauded a handful of his players: “Nick K. was good down low, anchoring the defense,” he said. “Nick P. has a big shot, Josh Michaud was the catalyst for our pressure – when we made those runs, he was the guy causing havoc for defense and able to make plays. Wyatt Kenney, second game back from injury, kind of showed a good, solid all-around game.”

Cam Cormier closed the first with a Freeport two and 10-8, but the Patriots inched out front through the second. The Falcons opened with a Cockburn three; Kariotis answered with two underneath on an inbounds pass from Claxton; Hawkes added one from the line.

15-12, Freeport, but not for long: Kariotis fed long for Hawkes, who tallied a transition two. Kariotis stole on the Falcons’ next possession, leading to a Kenney bucket. Kenney took a foul on the play; he missed his free attempt, but Kariotis ducked in, grabbed the loose ball and converted. 18-15, G-NG.

“Second quarter, we pressured a little bit more,” Deschenes said, “and we got out in transition. That’s where we got the ball downhill, found shooters.”

The Patriots pushed a bit further ahead as the second wound down. Hawkes floated in a jumper from the key; a Josh Michaud feed – a long, cross-court feed – set Pelletier up for a baseline three; and Pelletier followed himself up with another three from the same spot. 26-21 at the break.

“He’s as good a shooter as there is in the conference,” Deschenes said of Pelletier. “When he’s got space, he’s going to shoot a very high percentage – which he did tonight. As a team we didn’t shoot well tonight…but sometimes that happens, and we’ve got to find other ways to win, which we did. But Nick P. definitely shot well.”

Come the third, G-NG well and truly settled in: Kenney added a three to kick things off, 29-21. Claxton soon made his deposit on the night, and Michaud knocked down a pair of twos back-to-back. 37-23. Kenney hashed another two before quarter’s end, and Pelletier closed those eight minutes with a pair of twos. The Patriots thus carried a 15-point advantage, 43-28, into the fourth.

Worth highlight: the Patriots’ solid ball movement throughout the game. The team often passed decisively, swiftly and unpredictably – and frequently connected.

“The guys do a pretty good job looking for each other,” Deschenes said. “We can always make better decisions, but that’s teachable with time. We’ll get there for sure.”

To the Falcons’ credit, they surged in the waning minutes: Freeport pulled within four at 54-50 on a string of successful shots by Holt, Cockburn, Blaine Cockburn, Alex Helie and Elias Thomas. But with a less than a minute to go, Helie double-dribbled underneath, handing possession back to the Patriots, who took full advantage of the gift. Pelletier went to the line, shooting two in double-bonus territory and sinking both: 56-50.

To cap the evening, Kenney stole, drew a foul and added a free, and Kariotis defensive-rebounded, drew a foul and added a free. The buzzer buzzed; G-NG claimed their W.

“Their zone pressure gave us trouble at the end,” Deschenes said of the Falcons, “and we, defensively, got undisciplined and gave them some good looks to get them back in the game. But I thought we cleaned it up in the last two minutes.”

The No. 6 Patriots advanced to 3-3 on the season; G-NG has since picked up another W, this one 62-57 over No. 4 (in B South) Yarmouth. The team visits third-ranked (in B South) Lake Region on Tuesday, Jan. 7.

Nick Pelletier led the Patriots’ offense. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Nick Kariotis fires off a free-throw for the Patriots. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Jay Hawkes ascends towards the net for G-NG. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Terrell Claxton drives toward the net. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Patriot Josh Michaud battles in midair. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

Wyatt Kenney attacks a wall of Freeport defenders. Adam Birt / Lakes Region Weekly

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