GRAY—Gray-New Gloucester’s girls’ basketball team never has an easy time against rival Greely.

Even when the Patriots are expected to win and the Rangers are short-handed.

Wednesday evening, Gray-New Gloucester played host to Greely, who came to town without senior sharpshooter Sophia Ippolito.

The Rangers instead relied on their whole roster and gave the Patriots a mighty scare before finally going down to defeat.

Greely roared out of the gate in the first quarter, taking a 12-2 lead behind five points from junior Kyle Crocker before Gray-New Gloucester got a late 3-pointer from junior Alexndar Portas to draw within seven.

Fouls piled up on both teams in the second period, but the Rangers still led by seven before the Patriots rallied and made it a two-point game, 18-16, on a buzzer-beating 3-ball from junior Ellie Steele.


Gray-New Gloucester then took control in the third quarter, scoring the first 10 points to cap a 15-0 run and by period’s end, after yet another late 3, this one from Portas, the Rangers had a 29-23 advantage.

Greely fought hard to the final horn but never drew closer than six and the Patriots went on to a 43-36 victory.

Portas and freshman Ella Kenney led Gray-New Gloucester with 10 points apiece as the Patriots finished the regular season 15-3, while dropping Greely to 10-8 and beating the Rangers for the first time in over eight years in the process.

“(The Rangers) were playing with house money and they showed up to play,” said Gray-New Gloucester coach Mike Andreasen. “I’m not so sure we did early on. We knew they’d come out with a chip on their shoulder. Our big thing in the second half was just not getting outworked.”

Familiar foes

Greely, the reigning Class A South champion, has had its share of ups and downs this winter, but the Rangers have been competitive throughout.


Greely opened with a 59-45 home win over Fryeburg Academy, then was dominated at Brunswick (70-43) and lost at home to reigning Class AA South champion Gorham (59-45). The Rangers bounced back to knock off visiting Gray-New Gloucester (58-48) and York (42-31), then won at home over Freeport in overtime (50-46) before dropping a 53-43 home decision to Yarmouth and falling at home to Falmouth (48-34). Greely then defeated host York (46-29) and Cape Elizabeth (44-29) and visiting Lake Region (62-53) before losing at Wells (49-43), at Yarmouth (48-34), at Fryeburg Academy (50-35) and at home to Wells (45-41). The Rangers snapped their four-game skid by downing host Poland, 51-31, but Monday, at Freeport, they were beaten by the Falcons for the first time this century, 50-45.

As for Gray-New Gloucester, a perennial contender, it won its first four games and nine of its first 10, highlighted by handing Brunswick its first setback (48-47). The Patriots’ lone loss in that span was at Greely. After losing to Mt. Ararat, Gray-New Gloucester won four more, then was knocked off in overtime by Fryeburg Academy before rebounding Saturday with a 55-39 victory over York.

In the teams’ first meeting two days after Christmas, Ippolito led the way for Greely with 19 points, while sophomore Grier Wright scored 17 points and junior Asja Kelman added 10. Senior Amber Fortin paced the Patriots with 14 points.

Wednesday, the Rangers looked to sweep Gray-New Gloucester for the second year in a row and make it 14 straight victories in the series, but instead, the Patriots managed to solve Greely for the first time since a 59-47 road win way back on Dec. 5, 2014 and beat the Rangers at home for the first time since Dec. 6, 2013 (54-31).

Greely junior Kylie Crocker passes the ball out to classmate Cece Berthiaume during the Rangers’ 43-36 loss at Gray-New Gloucester Wednesday. Hoffer photos.

With Ippolito unavailable, Greely coach Todd Flaherty employed a five-in, five-out philosophy in the first period, giving everyone on the roster an opportunity to contribute.

It paid off, as Crocker opened the scoring 58 seconds in by banking home a runner, then she added a free throw.


The Patriots got on the board on a bank shot from senior Caitlin Taylor, but the next nine points went to the visitors, as after five new players were subbed in, senior Allie Read scored on a bank shot and after the starters returned, Berthiaume set up Crocker for a layup, Wright banked home a runner, Berthiaume made a free throw, then with 20 seconds to go in the opening stanza, Crocker banked home a runner.

Gray-New Gloucester got a little momentum back on Portas’ late 3, which ended a 5 minute, 38 second scoring drought, but the Rangers were up, 12-5.

“We didn’t care about the score really, just the effort,” Flaherty said. “The girls got themselves ready. I told them everyone would have to chip in.”

Early in the second period, Taylor banked home a shot for Gray-New Gloucester, but Berthiaume answered with two foul shots, then junior Zada Smith added two free throws to make it 16-7.

After Kenney scored her first two points at the line, Berthiaume answered with a foul shot before Kenney made a layup after a steal.

With 1:31 to go before halftime, Berthiaume made another free throw, but that would be it for Greely’s scoring for a long while.


In the final minute of the half, Steele made a free throw, Kenney made another, then at the horn, Fortin set up Steele for a pivotal 3-pointer in transition and despite being outplayed much of the first 16 minutes, Gray-New Gloucester was within two, 18-16.

“My concern was (Greely) just outworked us the first two quarters,” Andreasen said. “They got rebounds, they were aggressive and flying around. We were lucky to get that 3-pointer before halftime. That was big.”

Greely senior Cassidy Dean defends as Gray-New Gloucester senior Caitlin Taylor goes up for a shot.

When the third quarter commenced, it took just over a minute for the Patriots to go on top to stay, as Taylor made a layup while being fouled, then added the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play.

Steele then scored on a putback, sophomore Isabelle Morelli drove for a layup after a steal and with 4:11 to go, Kenney converted a three-point play after a steal to cap the 15-0 run and make it 26-18.

With 3:30 left, a jumper from junior Lauren Hester rattled in to end Greely’s 6:01 drought and an interminable span of 12:30 without a field goal.

Crocker then added a free throw and Berthiaume drove for a layup to cut the Gray-New Gloucester lead to three, but again, the Patriots closed the quarter strong, as Portas buried a clutch 3 from the corner for a 29-23 advantage heading to the fourth period.


Where Gray-New Gloucester did just enough to hold on.

Kenney started the frame by getting a runner in the lane to drop, then Morelli made it a 10-point contest with a pair of free throws.

After Wright got two points back at the line, Portas answered with two free throws of her own.

Sophomore Molly Partridge converted a runner for the Rangers, but Morelli scored on a putback and after Wright and Fortin exchanged foul shots, the Patriots held a 38-28 lead with 2:59 to go.

Greely had one final push, as Kelman hit a 3-pointer for her team’s lone shot from beyond the arc all game and after Morelli made a free throw, Crocker banked home a shot with 1:43 remaining to cut the deficit to 39-33.

But that’s as close as the Rangers would get, as Morelli made two free throws and after Crocker hit one, Portas sank two more for Gray-New Gloucester’s final points.


With 12 seconds to go, Berthiaume made a layup, but it wasn’t enough as the Patriots prevailed, 43-36.

Kenney and Portas led Gray-New Gloucester with 10 points apiece, Morelli had nine (to go with six rebounds), Taylor contributed seven, Steele had six (to go with four rebounds) and Fortin added one (while grabbing five rebounds and producing three assists and two steals).

The Patriots overcame 17 turnovers and made 16-of-27 foul shots.

“We talked about (Greely) not having Sophia and it being a game you can’t win,” Andreasen said. “If you win, it’s because she didn’t play. If you lose, you lose, which is doubly bad. Todd got them ready and they came out strong.”

For Greely, Crocker had a game-high 11 points, Berthiaume added nine (to go with five rebounds), Wright had five, Kelman three (as well as seven rebounds) and Hester (five rebounds), Partridge, Read and Smith two apiece.

“I think I’m tearing up because I’m very proud of them,” Flaherty said. “They all played hard. Everybody contributed. That’s what we set our mind to do.”


The Rangers dominated the glass, 39 rebounds to 20, but made just 13-of-24 free throws and committed 25 costly turnovers.

“We got outscored at the free throw line,” Flaherty lamented. “That’s an issue for us. We don’t mind fouling, but we had too many and we’ll have to clean that up. Give (the Patriots) a lot of credit. They play really good defense. They know what we want to do. They don’t leave us open on the perimeter. They pack it in and close out well and they’re big.”

Act three in store?

Greely and Gray-New Gloucester now turn their attention to the Class A South quarterfinals, which will be played Monday, Feb. 20 at the Portland Exposition Building.

The Patriots project to be the No. 2 seed behind Brunswick in Class A South and will either see Greely again, or meet Freeport in the quarterfinals, the round they were ousted from a year ago.

“There are nine quality teams in our region,” Andreasen said. “We’ll have to play Greely or Freeport in the quarterfinals. Freeport’s playing really well. That wouldn’t be easy. Greely has the pedigree. Brunswick right now is in a different league. Falmouth’s good and so is Marshwood. (Mt.) Ararat kicked the stuffing out of us.

“It should be a fun tournament. Last year, we lost in the quarterfinals, so this year, I’m hopeful we can advance. A great regular season record doesn’t mean a whole lot. We have to play good defense, knock down foul shots and not commit silly fouls.”

The Rangers, who finished with a sub-.500 record for the first time in 27 years, will be ranked either sixth or seventh when all is said and done and will either have a rematch with Gray-New Gloucester, or take on Mt. Ararat, a squad they didn’t face this season.

“We expected a lot of close games,” Flaherty said. “We hoped for a little more in the win column. We have a lot of work to do before a week from Monday, but if we play hard like (we did today), I’ll have no complaints. We just want to get in and see what happens. If we improve, we can compete. We have to limit our unforced turnovers and stop fouling so much. We’re not going to become great shooters, but we can clean up our game a little bit. We hope to save our best for last.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at

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