TOPSHAM — The Mt. Ararat High School boys basketball team began the season 0-4, losing a couple of close games early on.

Since, then Eagles have won three straight, including a 76-34 victory over Gardiner in Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference action Thursday evening.

“It’s nice to get a winning streak going,” Mt. Ararat coach David Dubreuil said. “It makes practices go a little smoother after we won a couple of games.”

Jared Balser poured in game-high 26 points and pulled down seven rebounds, while classmate Austin Damon chipped in with a double-double, registering 10 points and 10 rebounds in the victory.

Logan Carleton led the Tigers with eight points, while Luke Stevens scored seven points. Isaac Gammon netted a pair from behind the arc, scoring six points, and Ryan Johnson scored five points for the visitors.

Mt. Ararat (3-4) raced out to an early 11-3 lead after Sean Roberts nailed a three, prompting a Gardiner timeout with 5:34 left in the opening frame.

Gardiner did not have an answer for Balser, as the senior set the pace in the first eight minutes, scoring 10 points while hauling in four boards.

After closing out the quarter on a 13-3 run, the home team began the second with a 16-4 spurt, pushing the lead to 33-10 midway through the frame. A pair of baskets from behind the arc from Nathan Taylor and six points from J.D. Dionne propelled the Eagles, but once again, the 6-foot-8 center was in the middle of all of the action.

Balser scored 10 more points before the half was out, including a three-point play after he was fouled on a putback to make the score 38-15 late in the half. He finished the opening 16 minutes with 20 points.

“I’m just making sure I can stay in the game,” Balser said. “Last year I fouled out a lot and ‘Coach Dubes’ has been working with me to foul less so I can stay on the floor.”

“Jared has worked hard at staying out of foul trouble,” Dubreuil said. “When he stays out of foul trouble, he stays out on the floor so he can do more things like he did tonight.”

The Eagles took a 40-15 lead into the halftime break. Following Balser’s points, Taylor and Dionne each had six in the half. Damon added seven rebounds, while Max Spelke had a pair of steals.

The third quarter played a little more even, with Gardiner (1-6) scoring the first four points and trading baskets with Mt. Ararat throughout the quarter. Despite a pair of three-point baskets from Stevens and Gammon, the clear height advantage the Eagles had was just too much.

“I saw we had such a size advantage, we knew we had to keep working it underneath to our big men,” Dubreuil said. “Austin and Jared work hard to get those rebounds on both sides of the floor.”

Mt. Ararat went 10-for-11 from the free-throw line in the final quarter to pull away for the 42-point victory. Dionne and Taylor each finished with eight points, while senior Will Kavanaugh netted five for the Eagles.

Mt. Ararat hosts Falmouth Saturday at 5 p.m.

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