Girls Basketball: G-NG sails past Freeport for States berth

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PORTLAND—The G-NG girls, B South’s No. 1 contender, have made their tournament run look easy thus far: The Lady Patriots had a bye through the prelims, which is about as easy as it gets for a team, then slaughtered Maranacook 61-27 in the quarters before topping Wells 48-34 in the semis. And on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 23 – in the Regional Final – G-NG did it again, plunging ahead of challengers Freeport 17-2 in the first quarter and never looking back.

“It’s really weird,” G-NG head coach Mike Andreasen said. “Our first two matches we had with them, the first quarters were both three-point-games. It was in the second and third quarters when we kind of elongated the game. Today was the exact opposite.”

A trio of Patriots hit double-digits in the outing – Bri Jordan had 12, Jordan Grant 14 and Eliza Hotham 11 – and even though the Falcons did what they could to make it a game as the minutes elapsed, G-NG emerged handily victorious, 42-31.

“We just came out, we had some really good team offense,” Grant said. “We were all were contributing to all the points. When we got a lot, we slowed down a little bit, but we couldn’t let off the gas, because they came right back. They’re a good team.”

“I just worked really hard, and the rest of the team did,” Jordan said. “We wanted to make sure we played as a team today, and make sure we were all coordinating when everyone else was coordinating. So if somebody stepped to the ball, the rotation would come down. It was a very team defense today.”

Grant opened the game with a huge block for the Patriots; Jordan then converted an offensive rebound into their first two points. The team steamrolled into the 17-2 run from there: Jordan assisted Hotham on a two; Hotham grabbed an o-reb for two more; Hotham grabbed a d-reb, hurled it up-court to Jordan, who dished to Grant for two more; and so on and so forth. Freeport’s first points came late in the stretch, a pair of frees by Caroline Smith, who eventually tallied the day’s high-score, 24. 

“We knew that we had a little bit of lead room,” Grant said, “and that we had to keep that and keep working; we couldn’t just stop there…We did a good really good job on Caroline Smith; she’s a good player, and Bri seemed to do really well with her, and kept her from a lot of points.”

The Falcons fought back a bit in the second, pulling within 11 on seven by Smith and two by Hannah Groves. Smith hit another two to bring the Falcons within nine, 22-13, at the start of the third, but they needed to cover ground more quickly than that, and they simply could not. Rachel Wall helped Smith out with a bucket, but Jordan and Grant combined for eight through the same stretch and G-NG led 30-21 at the dawn of the fourth.

“I thought we let them off the hook a little bit with the last seven points of the half,” Andreasen said of the Falcons. “We gave them some life. In the second half, we never regained our momentum.”

“It was difficult for a while,” Jordan said. “Nobody was really hitting a lot of outside shots today. We tried to kick it in the post and make sure we got good looks every time down the floor so that we would be rewarded, hopefully.”

Freeport nipped especially close at the Patriots’ heels in the downhill eight minutes: Smith, naturally, led for the Falcons, as they pulled within six at 36-30. G-NG (and their fan contingent) collectively held its breath; Hotham, though, nailed a three at her next opportunity to shuttle her girls back out front by nine. It was just one basket, but it was pretty, and it really seemed to retake the momentum for the Patriots, who exhaled, relaxed, and (of course) went on to win. 

“As she shot,” Andreasen said of Hotham and her big three, “I remember just praying, saying ‘Please.’ And it looked good.”

“They’re a good team, and they always give us a good run at some point,” Grant said.

“The second, third and fourth quarters were Freeport’s good quarters,” Andreasen said. “For a bunch of underclassmen, I think that really tells you a lot about Freeport.”

G-NG are a veteran squad; at this point, the team has a good deal of playoff experience. Per Jordan, that helps: “A lot,” she said, asked just how much. “It helped a lot. We know that we’ve been here before, so that definitely helped with the confidence piece – and the nerves, too.”

G-NG are 19-2 after their trio of playoff wins. The team’s only regular-season losses this winter came vs. Class A titans Greely. G-NG will face off with Mount Desert Island in the State Championship on Saturday, March 2 at the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland. Game time: 1 p.m.

The Patriots had already battered Freeport twice this year, coming into the Regional Final: 51-22 on Dec. 13 and 59-26 on Feb. 7.

Adam Birt can be reached at abirt@keepmecurrent.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.

G-NG head coach Mike Andreasen accepts the game ball.

Former Patriot Grace Kariotis (left) – a member of the program’s last state-title-winning team, now an assistant coach – and current G-NG standout Brianna Jordan (right) chat after the game.

Bri Jordan partakes of the winners’ net-whipping ritual.

Jordan Grat claims a piece of the net.

Eliza Hotham takes her trophy.

Madysen West snips at the net, following the Patriots’ win.

Jordan Grant lofts up an inside two attempt.

Brianna Jordan ascends toward the net.

Bri Jordan played a big role in G-NG’s victory.

Eliza Hotham shovels a pass inward.

Jordan Grant powers inside for the Patriots.

The G-NG Captains (from left: Bri Jordan, Mikaela Ryan, Jordan Grant and Alexa Thayer) accept the team’s new hardware.

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