Gray-New Gloucester senior Alexa Thayer defends Yarmouth sophomore Calin McGonagle during the Patriots’ 39-26 victory Friday night.
Y- 6 5 4 11- 26
GNG- 7 10 13 9- 39
Y- McNeil 2-2-8, McGonagle 2-2-6, Olson 1-4-6, D’Appolonia 1-0-2, Keaney 0-2-2, May 1-0-2
GNG- Jordan 4-3-12, Grant 4-3-11, Hotham 3-0-6, Ryan 3-0-6, Michaud 0-2-2, Thayer 1-0-2
Y (2) McNeil 2
GNG (1) Jordan 1
GRAY—Bad things tend to happen to Yarmouth’s girls’ basketball team when it squares off against Gray-New Gloucester and that trend continued Friday evening when the host Patriots handed the Clippers their 20th consecutive defeat in the series.
Yarmouth led three separate times in the first quarter, but a layup after a steal from Gray-New Gloucester senior captain and standout Bri Jordan put the Patriots up, 7-6, after eight minutes.
The Clippers then went scoreless for nearly seven minutes in the second period and the hosts scored eight straight points. A desperation 3-point heave from sophomore Margaret McNeil pulled Yarmouth within six, 17-11, at halftime, but only delayed the inevitable.
Two free throws from sophomore Calin McGonagle opened the second half and made it a four-point game, but Gray-New Gloucester got the next 11 points to open up a 30-15 advantage after three periods and the Clippers weren’t able to make a fourth quarter run as the Patriots went on to a 39-26 victory.
Jordan led all scorers with 12 points, junior Jordan Grant added 11 and Gray-New Gloucester improved to 6-0 and in the process, dropped Yarmouth to 4-2 on the year.
“Yarmouth kids are winners,” said Patriots coach Mike Andreasen. “They win in a lot of sports. They’re not going to come in here and roll over. I told the kids at halftime that they’d battle us. Fortunately, our experience helped.”
Both teams figure to be in the thick of the Class B South race all winter.
After winning at York, 41-33, in the opener, the Clippers, coached this season by David Cousins, lost at home to Freeport, 39-30, then turned around and downed visiting North Yarmouth Academy (41-35) and Fryeburg Academy (42-33) and host Waynflete (46-38).
Gray-New Gloucester, the 2017 Class B state champion that was upset by Lake Region in last year’s semifinals, opened the season by earning a measure of revenge and beating the visiting Lakers, 44-15. After downing visiting York (54-20), the Patriots won at home over Freeport (51-22), at NYA (51-45) and at Poland (51-14).
Friday, Yarmouth was seeking its first win over Gray-New Gloucester since Dec. 16, 2008 (37-35 in Gray), but the Patriots did enough to make it 20 straight in the series.
It took over two minutes for the scoring ice to be broken. McGonagle did the honors for the Clippers, scoring on a putback in traffic. The hosts drew even on a jumper from senior Mikaela Ryan before freshman Katelyn D’Appolonia banked home a runner for a 4-2 Yarmouth advantage.
After Jordan made a free throw for the hosts, the Patriots took their first lead on a pair of foul shots from junior Abbey Michaud.
After junior Hope Olson made a floater to put the Clippers back on top, Jordan stole the ball and made a layup to make it 7-6 Gray-New Gloucester after eight minutes.
After 16 combined turnovers in the first period, the teams combined for 13 more in the second, but the Patriots managed to keep the ball enough to extend their lead.
After Jordan set up Ryan for a layup, Yarmouth got two free throws from Olson with 6:39 to go, but the Clippers wouldn’t score again until the horn.
Junior Eliza Hotham hit a jumper, Jordan made a free throw, Jordan sank a 3 and Grant made a layup before a halfcourt prayer from McNeil at the buzzer pulled Yarmouth within 17-11 at the break.
In the first half, Jordan led all scorers with seven points.
The Clippers hoped to build on the momentum from McNeil’s shot and got two free throws from McGonagle to start the second half, but then, Grant took over.
First, Grant scored on a putback while being fouled, then added the free throw to complete the old-fashioned three-point play.
After Grant made two more free throws, Ryan hit a jumper and with 2:25 to go in the frame, Grant’s layup allowed the Patriots to double up the Clippers, 26-13.
Jordan set up Grant for a layup to cap the 11-0 run before a pair of Olson free throws with 55 seconds remaining ended Yarmouth’s 6-minute, 17-second drought.
A late leaner from Jordan gave Gray-New Gloucester a comfortable 30-15 advantage heading to the fourth period.
There, the Patriots finished off yet another victory over the Clippers.
After junior Samantha Fortin set up Hotham for a layup and a putback from Yarmouth junior Avery May, Hotham hit a leaner, senior Alexis Thayer scored on a bank shot and Jordan stole the ball and made a layup for a 38-17 lead.
McGonagle answered with a putback, McNeil drained a 3-pointer and McNeil made a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 14, but in the final minute, Jordan hit a free throw for Gray-New Gloucester’s final point before sophomore Kathryn Keaney made two free throws for the Clippers to account for the 39-26 final score.
Jordan led all scorers with a dozen points and also had five rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Grant’s big second half left her with 11 points, six rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.
Hotham (five rebounds) and Ryan (five boards) each had six points, while Michaud (four rebounds) and Thayer added two apiece.
Junior Madysen West didn’t score, but had four rebounds and two steals.
The Patriots had a 40-28 rebounding advantage, made 8 of 15 free throws and overcame 23 turnovers.
“Bri played with confidence in the first half and we found Jordan in the second half and exploited that,” said Andreasen. “Our halfcourt defense is really good, which is good because they had us well defended. We’re not a super-high scoring team. The old adage says that defense wins championships, but offense wins championships too and we’re not there yet offensively.”
For Yarmouth, McNeil had a team-high eight points. She also had four steals and four rebounds. McGonagle (eight boards) and Olson had six points apiece, while D’Appolonia (three steals), Keaney and May added two points each.
The Clippers made all 10 of their free throw attempts, but committed 23 turnovers.
“The girls didn’t quit,” Cousins said. “Defensively, I think we did a heck of a job. The effort was there. Offensively, we need some work because we had looks, but we couldn’t throw it in the ocean. The third quarter killed us. We had just four points, all from the foul line. (Gray-New Gloucester’s) a very good team. Well-coached, very poised. If they don’t have a shot, they find a shot.”
Andreasen feels that Yarmouth is on the brink of becoming a top contender.
“They’ve been up and down, but they have freshmen and sophomores and I’ve got juniors and seniors,” Andreasen said.
Gray-New Gloucester’s next test will be its biggest, as defending Class A champion Greely pays a visit Thursday.
“As a whole, we’ve got enough kids back that I think going into most games we ought to have enough talent to be equal to or better than who we play,” Andreasen said. “I think, interestingly, we’ll have more offense against (Greely) than we did tonight because they don’t focus as much on the defensive end. Defensively, they’ll put us through the grinder. The league as a whole, there aren’t as many strong teams as last year.”
Yarmouth will return home Thursday to face Wells, as it looks to right the ship. The Clippers will get another shot at the Patriots Jan. 10 at home.
“They come to our place and hopefully we can turn things around,” Cousins said. “We’ll obviously have to play very well to compete with them. I’m hoping the offense comes sooner rather than later. We have a tough stretch, but Heal Points are out there and if we win, we won’t have to worry about things.”