Yarmouth boys can't catch up to Gray-New Gloucester

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Gray-New Gloucester senior John Martin leaves Yarmouth senior Ashanti Haywood on the court and his team had similar success against the Clippers Friday night, prevailing, 58-52.

Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald photos.

More photos below.

BOX SCORE

Gray-New Gloucester 58 Yarmouth 52

Y- 11 12 12 17- 52
GNG- 16 10 23 9- 58

Y- Torres 8-3-22, Haywood 5-1-14, Eckersley-Ray 3-2-8, Middleton 2-0-5, Rogers 1-1-3

GNG- Martin 6-3-16, Colby 5-4-15, Pomerleau 5-2-12, Lachance 3-0-6, Edwards 2-0-5, Johnson 1-0-2, Pelletier 0-2-2

3-pointers:
Y (7) Haywood, Torres 3, Middleton 1
GNG (3) Colby, Edwards, Martin 1

Turnovers:
Y- 18
GNG- 22

Free throws
Y: 7-10
GNG: 11-15

GRAY—For nearly 32 minutes Friday evening, Yarmouth’s boys’ basketball team battled uphill.

And while the Clippers put forth a valiant effort, they couldn’t quite catch up to the host Gray-New Gloucester Patriots in an early-season Class B South showdown.

One year after snapping a 14-game skid at the hands of Yarmouth, the Patriots beat the Clippers in Gray for the first time in nearly 14 years thanks to a solid team effort.

Yarmouth took an early lead on a 3-point shot from senior Ashanti Haywood, but Gray-New Gloucester went ahead on a pair of free throws from senior Hunter Colby and took a 16-11 advantage to the second quarter.

There, the Patriots went up by 10, 26-16, after a layup from senior Zack Pomerleau, but thanks to a boost from senior reserve Caden Middleton, the Clippers scored the final seven points of the half to make it a three-point contest at the break.

When senior Jonny Torres opened the second half with a 3-pointer, Yarmouth was even, but 18 of the next 19 points would go to Gray-New Gloucester, as Colby, Pomerleau and senior John Martin all came up big.

The Patriots took a 49-35 lead to the fourth quarter, but the Clippers made them work to hold on, as Torres drained two 3s and Haywood made another before Gray-New Gloucester prevailed, 58-52.

Martin led a balanced attack with 16 points and the Patriots improved to 4-2 on the season, dropping Yarmouth to 1-4 in the process.

“We started slow in the first half, came back and tied it, then the same thing happened in the second half,” said Clippers first-year coach Jonas Allen. “That’s definitely something we’re working on. Another thing, we didn’t execute tonight on offense. If we didn’t get anything in the first few seconds, we’d get frustrated and just stand around and look at each other. It’s back to the drawing board on both ends of the court.” 

Big road test

Yarmouth opened with a 70-39 home loss to York, then let a late lead slip away in a 45-41 home setback to Freeport. After a 49-41 loss at Fryeburg Academy, the Clippers gave Allen his first victory and it a big one, 50-47, at home over previously undefeated Waynflete Saturday.

Gray-New Gloucester opened with a 48-43 home win over Lake Region, lost at York (64-58), edged host Freeport by a point (57-56), lost at home to Cape Elizabeth (62-55) and handled visiting Poland, 61-29, last Friday.

Gray-New Gloucester’s come-from-behind 51-45 win at Yarmouth last Dec. 20 snapped a 14-game skid in the series. The Clippers then made it 15 of 16 with a 46-35 victory in Gray.

Friday, the Patriots managed to beat Yarmouth in Gray for the first time since a 57-48 home decision Jan. 21, 2005, but it didn’t come easily.

A putback from senior Ryan Lachance gave the hosts the jump, but Haywood countered with a 3-point shot.

The Clippers would lead for 81 seconds before a little left-handed hook shot from Colby put Gray-New Gloucester on top.

Martin drove for a layup, then sank a 3 for a 9-3 lead.

After Haywood made a floater for the visitors, junior Nick Pelletier hit two free throws to restore the six-point advantage before senior Noah Eckersley-Ray hit a jumper, Torres made a jumper and after Eckersley-Ray made a nice save on the sideline, Haywood’s jumper tied the score, 11-11.

With 36.1 seconds to go in the first quarter, Colby hit two free throws to give the Patriots the lead back and Pomerleau added a layup after a steal, was fouled on the play and added the and-one free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play and a 16-11 advantage after eight minutes.

Eckersley-Ray faked out the defense before hitting a jumper to start the second stanza, but junior Matt Johnson made a leaner and senior Wyatt Edwards drained a turnaround jumper for a 20-13 Gray-New Gloucester lead.

Torres converted a three-point play of his own (layup, foul, free throw), but the next six points went to the hosts, as Lachance scored on successive putbacks and after a pretty stop-and-start move, Pomerleau’s layup made it 26-16 with 3:10 to go in the half.

Middleton then came into the game and immediately made his presence felt, draining a 3-pointer from the corner and driving to bank home a shot.

“Caden brought energy and he’s been hurt a lot and that’s why he hasn’t played, but very clearly, he’s earned more chances,” Allen said. “His energy stands out among our group. Anything he brings offensively is extra as far as I’m concerned.”

Torres then sank a fadeaway jumper to pull the Clippers within three, 26-23, at the half.

In the first 16 minutes, Lachance had six points and 10 rebounds and the Patriots forced a dozen Yarmouth turnovers.

When Torres sank a 3-pointer 26 seconds into the second half, the Clippers had drawn even, but the tie only lasted 28 seconds and was followed by a huge Gray-New Gloucester surge.

With 7:06 to play in the third quarter, Pomerleau spun and drove for a layup to put the Patriots on top to stay.

Pomerleau then hit a leaner over Yarmouth’s 6-foot-6-inch senior Jake Rogers and Martin drained a leaner for a 32-26 advantage, forcing Allen to call timeout.

It didn’t help, as Martin somehow redirected a Lachance pass into the basket, Colby banked home a shot with his left hand and Colby buried a 3-pointer for a 39-26 lead.

“We’re a hard team to cover when we move the ball and run our stuff,” said Gray-New Gloucester coach Ryan Deschenes. “The guys recognized the mismatch Hunter had and he got those two big looks and that kind of sealed it. Ryan is kind of our glue. He brings toughness and defense and rebounding.”

A Rogers free throw momentarily stemmed the tide, but Martin made a layup and Pomerleau banked home a shot while being fouled and added the free throw to complete the 18-1 run and make the score 44-27.

“Zack is a guy who can create, shoot, defend,” Deschenes said. “He’s a great two-way player. He’ll open up some eyes as the season goes on.”

“We have to execute on offense and be more physical on defense,” Allen said. “You can’t have lapses and every time we did, Martin found the open man or took advantage himself. They made big shots. They’re a good team. We were proud of how we finished the first half and assumed that would spark us. It’s a pattern we have and we have to correct it. We have to get better mentally.” 

Torres set up Rogers for a layup and Haywood drained a 3 to cut the deficit to a dozen, but Martin countered with two free throws.

A Torres three-point play made it an 11-point game, but just before the horn, after Martin saved the ball from going out of bounds, he got it to Edwards, who made a clutch 3-pointer for a 49-35 lead after three quarters.

The Clippers tried to get back in the game in the fourth period, but Gray-New Gloucester refused to buckle.

After Martin made a layup after a steal to start the frame, Torres drove for a layup, Eckersley-Ray scored on a putback and Torres made the second of two free throws to cut the deficit to 51-40 with 4:09 remaining.

A Martin free throw was countered by a Torres 3 to make it a single-digit contest, but a Colby layup with 2:44 on the clock made it 54-43 Patriots.

Haywood made a 3 to cut the deficit to eight, but with 2:02 to go, Colby made a left-handed hook in the lane for a 56-46 advantage.

After Haywood and Colby traded free throws, Eckersley-Ray hit a pair to make it 57-49, but only 22.9 seconds remained.

Colby hit a foul shot for Gray-New Gloucester’s final point and a Torres 3 with 5.8 seconds on the clock accounted for the 58-52 final score.

“(Yarmouth’s) a very good team,” Colby said. “It was tough, but everybody boxed out and played well. My teammates made really good passes to me. We have John Martin, who I think is the best player in the state. Me and Ryan are playing together well. He’s really tough. He gets every rebound that comes off the rim.”

“I told the guys that we responded to every run they made,” said Deschenes. “I’m really pleased because we hadn’t responded to runs this year. This is a step in the right direction. Yarmouth’s improved a lot and they’re going to win a lot of games.”

Martin paced the Patriots’ victory with 16 points. Colby added 15 points (and six rebounds), Pomerleau had a dozen points (and five boards), Lachance finished with six points and a game-high 15 rebounds, Edwards had five points and Johnson and Pelletier added two apiece.

“They defended John well,” Deschenes said. “He did nice things for us, but other guys stepped up. That’s where we’re better this year than last year. We have more guys who can do things.”

Gray-New Gloucester had a 33-26 rebounding advantage, hit 11 of 15 free throws and overcame 22 turnovers.

Yarmouth got a game-high 22 points from Torres (who also had three steals). Haywood contributed 14 points (and four steals), Eckersley-Ray had eight points (as well as 11 rebounds and two steals), Middleton five and Rogers (eight rebounds) three.

The Clippers went 7 of 10 from the line, but turned the ball over 18 times.

“I told the guys I’m glad we played hard, but it’s two steps forward, one step back,” Allen said. “That’s where we are right now. We string good possessions together, then we go back to old habits.

“The kids are doing a great job. They’re learning a completely new system in every aspect of the game. “

On to 2019

The teams meet again Jan. 10 in Yarmouth, but both squads have work to do first.

Gray-New Gloucester is back in action Thursday when it faces the daunting task of going to two-time defending Class A champion Greely.

“We have to keep working in the weight room and in practice,” Colby said.

“Things are going the right way,” said Deschenes. “We have a long ways to go, but we get better every day. It’s a great, coachable group of guys. It’s going to be who’s playing the best in February and hopefully we’ll be playing a lot better then than we are now.”

Yarmouth is back in action Thursday at Wells.

“I wish we weren’t 1-4, but when you step back, you can see we’ve been competitive,” Allen said. “I’d say we’re maybe 50 percent of where we could be and we have a big upside. There’s no panic in me and I don’t sense any panic in my team. I think we’ll be OK.”

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

Gray-New Gloucester senior Zack Pomerleau contorts his body to get a shot off over Yarmouth seniors Jonny Torres, left, and Jake Rogers.

Yarmouth senior Ashanti Haywood leaps to intercept a pass meant for Gray-New Gloucester senior John Martin.

Gray-New Gloucester senior Ryan Lachance shoots over Yarmouth junior Jason Lainey.

Yarmouth senior Ashanti Haywood shoots over Gray-New Gloucester junior Nick Pelletier.

Yarmouth senior Caden Middleton blocks the shot of Gray-New Gloucester senior Ryan Lachance.

Yarmouth senior Jonny Torres goes all out to attempt to get the ball away from Gray-New Gloucester senior Ryan Lachance.

Gray-New Gloucester coach Ryan Deschenes jumps for joy during the Patriots’ victory.

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Sports Editor of The Forecaster since 2001. Find detailed game stories at theforecaster.net. I tweet prodigiously at @foresports.