PORTLAND—If only G-NG, faced with Wells in Thursday the 22nd’s B South semis, could’ve put together four quarters like their third. If only! Because their third thoroughly impressed: In that stretch, they outscored the Warriors 17-8. Alas, Wells controlled the majority of the game, sprinting distantly ahead in the first and ultimately winning by a hefty margin, 54-33.
“We didn’t play the game we wanted,” G-NG head coach Ryan Deschenes said. “We battled in the second half, for sure. But all the credit to Wells. Their experience showed, their toughness showed, their skill showed.”
The Patriots actually bested the Warriors 55-53 when the teams met in the regular season – and on Wells’s home court, no less. The Warriors simply showed up prepared on Thursday, looking like the States-bound team it eventually turned out they were. (The topped Cape Elizabeth in the B South Final two days later.)
Wells dashed to a 14-0 lead in the opening minutes vs. G-NG, riding a wave of buckets by Matt Sherburne, Dyan Whitney and others. For their part, the Patriots just couldn’t find a groove. The team turned the ball over on a handful of traveling calls; Martin missed an outside shot; Hunter Colby missed an inside shot. Finally, Martin put them on the board with a drive for two. Still, they trailed at the end of the first 18-5.
“We didn’t defend the way we wanted to, early, and they did hit some jump shots, got some good looks inside,” Deschenes said. “Next thing you knew, it’s 8-0. And now Wells is extremely confident, and they’re executing their gameplan very well. They took everything away that we wanted to do. So hats off to Coach Brown and Wells. They played a fantastic game.”
The Warriors continued to outpace the Patriots in the second, putting up 16 to G-NG’s three – yeah, three. The team’s lone bucket was a beaut – a Zach Pomerleau downtowner – but it was nevertheless their lone bucket. They lagged 34-8 at the break.
Pomerleau added the first points of the third – the first point, rather, since it was a lone free. Fellow Patriot Nick Pelletier followed Pomerleau up with two more from the line – Wells, in fact, committed three fouls in the first 56 seconds of the quarter.
Warrior Cam Cousins then contributed a pair of twos. G-NG missed a few shots, and, suddenly, seemed headed for another dry spell. Pelletier, however, quashed that pessimistic sense with a drive for two. Cousins responded, but Martin powered home a two in turn; Pelletier stole and drove for two, Martin hit a three, Martin hashed two from the line, and – wait for it – Martin completed a three-point play.
“We had to throw everything out, obviously,” Deschenes said, asked what he told his boys in the locker room during the intermission. “They were taking away our high-low really well, and they have two really good bigs, so they were able to muscle ours…Those two bigs are strong, and skilled, and they denied us well. They got underneath us well, they were switching a lot of actions, they were fighting through screens well.”
Size is usually an advantage for G-NG. Colby, Lachance and Brady all bring good height to the floor. For Wells to overmatch them in that aspect of the game hobbled them.
“So we went more spread offense,” Deschenes said. “Let’s drive and kick, let’s get to the rim. We were able to get to the rim a little better, up to the foul line a little better.”
The three is generally a potent weapon in the Patriots’ arsenal as well, but it wasn’t much of a factor against the Warriors.
“The first half was more, we kept the ball on a side, we didn’t spread them out; it was one pass and shoot,” Deschenes said. “But I liked our looks in the second half more. When we shot them, they were good looks – they just weren’t falling.”
G-NG had surged – but miles of ground to make up still remained before them. Down 42-25, facing a high-caliber enemy and with a mere eight minutes to go, their fate was essentially sealed. Pelletier added two more frees, Josiah Rottari a three, and Ethan Cavanaugh a two and a free before play ended, but that wasn’t nearly enough, and their season came to a close.
Cousins recorded 20, the high for the game, which took place at Cross Insurance Arena. Martin finished with 13 for the Patriots, Pelletier with eight.
The Patriots retire till next winter at 12-8. G-NG entered the bracketing ranked fifth in B South. (Wells entered ranked first, at 12-6; interestingly, the top eight teams all had records ranging from 10-8 – that was Freeport – to 13-5, the numbers put up by both Spruce Mountain and Maranacook.) The Patriots walloped the five-seed Phoenix in the quarters to earn their shot at the Warriors.
Adam Birt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @CurrentSportsME.
John Martin fires off a two-point attempt for G-NG.
Ryan Lachance reels in a rebound for the Patriots.
Josiah Rottari lingers betyond the arc, looking for an opportunity to slip the ball inside.
Zac Brady cuts forward on the attack for G-NG.