Gardiner wasn’t on anyone’s list of top teams in the Class B division of the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference this season. The Tigers are one of the smallest teams in the league and graduated all five starters from last year’s Eastern Maine Class B championship squad.
But they’re 2-0 heading into home games against Leavitt tonight and Mt. View on Tuesday. They’ve ridden the senior leadership of Tyler Jamison, Dennis Meehan and Jensen Orewiler and the younger players are buying into coach Jason Cassidy’s defensive philosophy.
Jamison scored 17 in an opening night win against Morse and 26 in a win at Lincoln on Tuesday. The 6-foot-3 senior guard, who is the team’s tallest player, saw a lot of action last season, but was not the team’s primary scorer.
“He put a lot of time into the off-season,” Cassidy said. “The game we’re playing is a little more his style. He likes to get out and run and slash to the basket.”
Meehan also saw meaningful minutes last season, usually as a defensive replacement, but this year he’s become the team’s point guard. He’s scored 21 points in two games while he continues to lead the defense.
Orewiler played on the junior varsity last season but has come into his own. In a come-from-behind win against Morse, he scored eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter, including two 3-pointers.
“He’s got a real good knowledge of the game and just works hard,” Cassidy said.
Sophomores Seth McFarland and Brad Weston round out the starting lineup while Josh McKelvey and Trevor Austin are key reserves.
• • •
Cony and Maranacook are each off to 0-2 starts and play key games tonight on the road with Cony at Oxford Hills and Maranacook at Nokomis.
Cony lost to Brunswick by nine points and to Edward Little by 23.
“Edward Little is the best team I’ve seen so far this year,” Cony coach Tim Bonsant said. “They’ve got four excellent shooters and the player of the year (Quin Leary). I don’t see anybody in the south (of the KVAC) as good as him right now.”
Bonsant said he liked his team’s intensity better against Edward Little but his Rams have to put together two halves to be successful.
“That’s the sign of a young team,” he said.
Maranacook lost to Morse on Tuesday after battling Medomak on opening night before falling in overtime.
“We didn’t have the energy,” coach Rob Schmidt said of Tuesday night’s game. “When we’re on, our energy and our intensity are infectious and we’re a very fun team to watch and a tough team to play against.”
The Black Bears hope to speed up the game against a taller Nokomis team.
“We really need to get the tempo going and pressure their ballhandlers and not give them second opportunities,” Schmidt said.
• • •
Erskine is also off to an 0-2 start but coach Ben Willoughby liked his team’s effort in Tuesday night’s six-point loss at Lewiston.
“It’s a great improvement from the preseason,” he said. “In the preseason, we didn’t show any fluidity.”
Willoughby has eight seniors but only three of them played on the varsity last season. One of those is guard Devin Duncan, the team’s leading returning scorer.
“(He’s) showing good poise,” Willoughby said. “I think teams are keying on him because of his success last year.”
The Eagles got a strong game from 6-4 senior Nathaniel Trask, who scored a team-high 17 points against Lewiston. Trask got into the starting lineup for the injured Caleb Rivera.
“He’s worked in the off-season on his strength and balance,” Willoughby said of Trask. “He’s not doing anything fancy but he’s become a huge asset for us.”
• • •
Winthrop is 1-2 but has shown marked improvement over last season. The Ramblers have a win against Lisbon and losses to Mountain Valley and Boothbay.
“The younger kids have developed more than I thought they would,” Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur said. “I think they really bought into pressure defense. They’re really getting after it. They don’t give up. That’s what I love about this group.”
Sophomore Ben Allen has grown a few inches and developed into a scorer.
“His jumper is silky smooth,” MacArthur said.
Taylor Morang, another sophomore, is in his second season as starting point guard.
“He’s making his teammates better and getting them the ball in certain scoring areas,” MacArthur said.
• • •
The Hall-Dale girls and boys varsity teams are playing a doubleheader at home against St. Dominic on Monday night, beginning at 5:30 to raise money for cancer research and honor a couple of women who are battling the disease.
“In essence it’s for Jim Patrick’s wife (Cheryl) and Flo Wilkins, who is a teacher at the school,” Athletic Director Tim Johnson said. “Both women have cancer.”
Patrick is taking a year’s leave of absence from his position as boys basketball coach to help care for his wife. T-shirts commemorating the event have been purchased by staff and participants and will be on sale for fans as well.
“St. Dom’s bought 30 for their kids,” Johnson said. “They recently lost a faculty member to cancer.”
The idea originated from former field hockey coach and Hall-Dale teacher Ellen Vickers.
“The response to it has been great,” Johnson said. “It’s just kind of taken off.”
Donations will be solicited at the door and all proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society.
“It’s mostly to say to Cheryl and to say to Flo you’ve got a lot of people pulling for you,” Johnson said.
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638