Tuesday, June 18, 2013
By Travis Lazarczyk firstname.lastname@example.org
BANGOR — On Thursday, Gardiner High boys' basketball coach Jason Cassidy talked about his team, which was preparing to play in a regional championship game for the first time.
Gardiner’s Matt Hall, right, hugs a teammate while Alonzo Connor, left, also celebrates after the Tigers beat Mt. Desert Island 70-58 in the Eastern Class B final at the Bangor Auditorium.
Photos by Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel
Tyler Jamison, Jake Palmer, Travis Kelley, Justin Lovely, Aaron Toman and Matt Hall celebrate after Gardiner won its first regional title.
“They're not ready to be done,” Cassidy said.
Because of an outstanding effort Saturday on the Bangor Auditorium floor, the Tigers have one more game to play.
Gardiner took the lead midway through the first quarter and never looked back on the way to a 70-58 win over previously undefeated Mt. Desert Island in the Eastern Class B championship game.
“It's an awesome feeling. We've been playing together since first grade, kindergarten,” said Gardiner senior guard Jake Palmer, who scored 23 points.
The Tigers (19-2) will face Yarmouth (17-4) in the state final Friday night at the Bangor Auditorium.
“Every game we went this year, we had to play basketball. You had to defend, you had to get your offense working, and I think that helped us tonight,” Cassidy said.
MDI (20-1) led 5-2 early, but a 9-0 Gardiner run gave the Tigers the lead for good. Gardiner shot 57 percent (16 for 28) in the first half. Palmer's 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the first half gave Gardiner a 37-24 lead.
“They came out with great intensity, and it kind of looked like they'd make the first run,” Cassidy said. “Our kids kind of took the punch, and gave it right back to them.”
Added Gardiner center Aaron Toman: “It seemed like we were on fire in the first half.”
Toman (16 points, eight rebounds) was hitting mid-range jumpers, and that forced the Trojans to adjust their defense. When they did, it opened layup chances. Toman's accuracy also prevented the Trojans from getting into their transition game, which Cassidy thought was key.
“Early on, it seemed like they didn't want to come out on Toman, and when he's hitting those jump shots, there's just nothing for them to clean up and run on us,” Cassidy said.
Defensively, the Tigers completely shut down Ben Walls, MDI's leading scorer. Walls spent much of the second half on the bench after picking up his fourth foul with 5:33 to play in the third quarter, but even before that he was a non-factor. A number of players defended Walls, who finished with two points on a pair of second-quarter free throws.
“The game plan (was to have) Alonzo Connor and Dennis Meehan shut him down. Tyler Jamison came off the bench and did a great job shutting him down, and at one point Justin Lovely went over and shut him down,” Cassidy said. “When you have kids on you bench saying 'Hey Coach, let me take him for a little bit, it makes you feel pretty good.”
The Trojans cut Gardiner's lead to 59-52 on a Jason Burke three-point play with just under two minutes to play, but Gardiner made seven foul shots in the final minute to seal the win.
“They hit their shots, and there's no getting around that,” said Burke, who had 15 points and 14 rebounds. “We tried to pick up the intensity, tried to pressure them a little bit, It didn't phase them, I guess.”
Connor had 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Lovely also scored 10 points. Adam Gray led MDI with 17 points.
Travis Lazarczyk – 861-9242
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Aaron Toman, center, and his Gardiner teammates will make their first state championship game appearance Saturday against Yarmouth.
Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans