Gray-NG boys erupt late to stun Yarmouth for statement victory

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Yarmouth sophomore Gavin Hamm defends Gray-New Gloucester senior Josiah Rottari.

BOX SCORE

Gray-New Gloucester 51 Yarmouth 45

GNG- 13 8 13 17- 51
Y- 14 6 17 8- 45

GNG- Martin 7-3-23, Brady 7-0-14, Colby 2-0-4, Lachance 2-0-4, Rottari 2-0-4, Pelletier 1-0-2

Y- Torres 5-0-13, Haywood 5-0-12, Hagerty 3-0-7, Eckersley-Ray 2-0-6, Hickey 2-0-5, Rogers 1-0-2

3-pointers:
GNG (6) Martin 6
Y (9) Torres 3, Eckersley-Ray, Haywood 2, Hagerty, Hickey 1

Turnovers:
GNG- 19
Y- 13

Free throws
GNG: 3-7
Y: 0-4

YARMOUTH—The Gray-New Gloucester boys’ basketball team has been seeking a signature victory and the Patriots earned a huge one in their final outing of the old year Friday evening at longtime nemesis Yarmouth.

Gray-New Gloucester, which lost three times to the Clippers a year ago, including in the tournament, hadn’t beaten Yarmouth in nearly seven seasons, but in one of the program’s most inspirational efforts in a long time, the Patriots managed to scale the mountain.

The Clippers went ahead, 14-9, in the first quarter, but Gray-New Gloucester hung tough and went on a 12-0 run in the second, which led to a 21-20 halftime advantage. 

In the third period, Yarmouth appeared poised to seize control when junior Jonny Torres went off for 11 points, including three 3-pointers, but a pair of late layups from Patriots junior Hunter Colby allowed the visitors to creep within three, 37-34, heading for the final stanza.

There, the Clippers got an early 3 from junior Ashanti Haywood to go up by six, but Gray-New Gloucester wouldn’t be denied, erupting for a 15-2 run to seize control.

A 3-pointer from junior John Martin tied the score at 42-42 with 3:54 to go and 10 seconds later, senior Zachary Brady stole the ball and slammed it home to put the Patriots on top to stay.

Gray-New Gloucester eventually went up by as much as 49-42 and fended off Yarmouth’s last-ditch rally as it prevailed, 51-45. 

Martin led all scorers with 23 points, Brady added 14 and the Patriots improved to 4-1, dropping the Clippers to 3-2 in the process.

“Yarmouth has been the team we’ve looked up all these years,” said Gray-New Gloucester coach Ryan Deschenes. “We knew we were as good as them, the question was could we get over the hump? Early in the fourth quarter, I thought I’d have to talk about our great effort, then we made some great plays and big shots.”

Accomplishment

Yarmouth was a regional finalist in 2016-17, dropping a heartbreaker to Wells in the Class B South Final, and this winter, the Clippers expect to make another run at the top spot.

Yarmouth began the season with a 44-42 loss at York, then downed visiting Sacopee Valley (69-19), Freeport (63-49) and Fryeburg Academy (39-29).

Gray-New Gloucester, which was a tournament team a year ago and expects to be a serious factor this winter, began with a 52-43 victory at Lake Region. After falling at home to York (73-58), the Patriots enjoyed wins at home over Freeport (67-64) and at Poland (66-33).

Entering play Friday, Yarmouth had beaten Gray-New Gloucester 14 straight times, with the most recent a 71-44 victory in last year’s Class B South quarterfinals.

The Clippers hoped for a 15th consecutive win and appeared on their way, but the Patriots saved their best for last and beat Yarmouth for the first time since 57-54 victory in Yarmouth Jan. 11, 2011.

Gray-New Gloucester scored first when junior Ryan Lachance put home a missed shot 80 seconds in, but Clippers senior Nolan Hagerty answered with a putback of his own.

The Patriots retook the lead when Martin scored on a runner and Brady banked home a shot, but Hagerty sank a 3 and junior Jake Rogers made a layup after a steal for a 7-6 Yarmouth lead.

Martin countered with a 3, but Torres made a layup after a steal, Hagerty made an up-and-under layup and Haywood sank a 3-ball for a 14-9 Clippers’ advantage.

Gray-New Gloucester didn’t buckle, however, and late in the first quarter, got a layup from Brady and a Brady jumper to draw back within a point, 14-13, after eight minutes.

Yarmouth went cold for most of the second period and the Patriots took advantage.

A minute into the stanza, sophomore Nick Pelletier put the visitors on top with a leaner and Martin added a 3. 

Later in the quarter, Martin made a free throw and senior Josiah Rottari made a layup after a steal for a 21-14 lead.

The Clippers finally snapped the 12-0 run and a 7-minute, 32-second drought when junior Noah Eckersley-Ray sank a 3-pointer with 2:33 remaining before halftime.

In the final minute, Eckersley-Ray hit another 3 and despite its struggles, Yarmouth was only behind by a point, 21-20, at the break.

In the first 16 minutes, Martin led all scorers with nine points. Hagerty’s seven points and Eckersley-Ray’s six paced the Clippers.

Yarmouth appeared to return to form in the third period, as Torres had a quarter to remember and Haywood hit some key shots as well, but the hosts couldn’t put Gray-New Gloucester away.

A floater from Haywood 11 seconds into the second half put the Clippers back on top and Torres added a putback.

After Rottari sank a long jumper for the Patriots, Torres made a 3. Brady countered with a turnaround jumper, but a Torres 3 with 5:04 on the clock extended the lead to 30-25.

Martin got three points back with a long-range bomb, but Torres countered with a 3 of his own to make it 33-28.

After Brady scored on a putback, Torres set up Haywood for a layup and Haywood added a jumper for a 37-30 advantage.

“That stretch in the third quarter is the best we’ve played as a team this season,” Yarmouth coach Adam Smith said. “The ball hardly touched the floor.”

Just when it looked like Yarmouth was on the brink of pulling away, however, back roared Gray-New Gloucester, as Martin set up Colby for a layup with 1:34 to go and after keeping play alive with an offensive rebound, junior Wyatt Edwards passed to Colby for another layup, pulling the Patriots within a single possession, 37-34, heading for the fourth period.

“(Yarmouth) came out strong in the third quarter,” Deschenes said. “They tightened things up and we didn’t handle things well. Torres is a great slasher, but he hit three 3s. We had to dig in and that’s what impressed me.”

Down the stretch, Gray-New Gloucester completed its historic win.

When Haywood sank a 3-ball 42 seconds into the fourth, again it looked like the Clippers were about to break it open, but the Patriots dug deep and produced their finest stretch of basketball in quite some time.

A putback from Lachance got the comeback started and Martin added a 3 to make it a one-point game.

Sophomore Aidan Hickey made a layup for Yarmouth with 4:53 on the clock, but 59 seconds later, Martin tied the score with a 3-ball.

Then, with 3:44 left, after a steal, Brady soared for a dunk which awakened the Gray-New Gloucester cheering section and gave the Patriots the lead for good, 44-42.

“It just happened,” Brady said. “It was a crazy moment. I saw my opportunity to get my first regular season dunk.”

“When he dunked that, it felt like he won the game for us,” Martin said. “The energy in the gym was crazy.”

“That lifted our defense up,” added Deschenes. “It was only two points, but it was a huge momentum lift.”

Martin added a 3 with 2:40 to go and 40 seconds later, a jumper from Brady pushed the visitors even closer to victory.

With 1:33 on the clock, Haywood somehow got a long 3-pointer to bank home, cutting the deficit to 49-45, snapping a 5:45 drought and the 15-2 run, but Yarmouth would draw no closer.

After Haywood and Eckersley-Ray missed 3s that could have made things very interesting, Martin was fouled and with 9.5 seconds remaining, he produced the coup de grace with a pair of free throws that brought the curtain down on the Patriots’ 51-45 victory.

“Ever since last year, we’ve practiced for this game,” Martin said. “We’re practiced to beat Yarmouth. We knew we’ve improved from last year and that we could pull it off. We knocked down shots and used that as momentum and we got big defensive stops.” 

“It means a lot to get this win,” Brady said. “We had to be mentally strong and we came back.”

Martin led all scorers with 23 points, including six 3-pointers. He also had four assists.

“John’s a first-team All-Conference and is one of the best players around,” Deschenes said.

Brady added 14 points, 11 rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot. He also put the defensive clamps on Hagerty, who is going to play at Brandeis University next year.

“Hagerty is extremely skilled and he’s a tough matchup, but Zachary is 6-6 and is long and quick, so we thought we had a good matchup with him,” said Deschenes. “Zach had a great offseason. He played sparingly last season and he’s stepped up.”

Colby, Lachance (six rebounds) and Rottari added four points apiece and Pelletier finished with two.

Gray-New Gloucester had a 35-29 rebounding advantage, made just 3 of 7 foul shots and committed 19 turnovers, but still managed to prevail.

For Yarmouth, Torres led the way with 13 points. He also had a game-high six steals and grabbed four rebounds. Haywood added 12 points.

Hagerty was held to seven points, all coming in the first quarter. He did grab eight rebounds and had three assists. 

Eckersley-Ray had six points (as well as eight rebounds and two steals), Hickey five (to go with three assists) and Rogers two.

The Clippers missed all four of their free throws and turned the ball over 13 times.

“We’ve had some young chemistry issues,” Smith said. “It’s just a growing process. Hopefully we’ll grow some more. (Gray’s) kids have been playing together for three years and you can see their chemistry and their trust and the leadership John Martin has. He can handle the ball and calm things down and knock down big shots. That gave confidence to his team.” 

Balanced region

As the old year gives way to the new, it appears that Class B South is wide open and that both Gray-New Gloucester and Yarmouth can stake a realistic claim for the top spot.

The teams will meet again Jan. 11 in Gray and both have tough tests in the interim.

The Patriots hope to keep their good times rolling when they host defending Class A champion Greely Wednesday. Trips to Sacopee Valley and Fryeburg Academy follow.

“We have to keep working hard in practice,” Brady said. “We’ll get back at it in the morning and work hard and get better.”

“This is definitely our biggest win, but we have Greely next and it doesn’t get any easier,” Martin said.

“We have to keep getting better,” Deschenes added. “We like our upside. We have four practices before Greely. We have to tighten up defensively. I like our upside. We play 10 guys a night. It’s wide open. It’s going to be exciting.”

The Clippers look to bounce back Thursday of next week when they host Wells in a regional final rematch. A home tilt versus Traip Academy and a trip to Cape Elizabeth follow.

“We have a big stretch of seven or eight games in a two-and-a-half week period of time,” Smith said. “That will test us immensely. These guys have high hopes. We’ll concentrate on what we need to do to get better.”

Michael Hoffer is the Sports Editor for the Forecaster papers. He can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @Foresports.

Yarmouth sophomore Gavin Hamm defends Gray-New Gloucester senior Josiah Rottari.

Gray-New Gloucester senior Zachary Brady shoots over Yarmouth junior Noah Eckersley-Ray during the Patriots’ 51-45 win at the Clippers Friday night.

Gray-New Gloucester junior Hunter Colby boxes out Yarmouth junior Noah Eckersley-Ray.

Yarmouth sophomore Aidan Hickey is defended by Gray-New Gloucester junior Zackary Pomerleau.

Gray-New Gloucester junior John Martin, the game’s high scorer with 23 points, drives on Yarmouth junior Ashanti Haywood.