GARDINER — The level of excitement in John A. Bragoli Gymnasium hasn’t reached that of last season, but it’s getting there.
Thursday night, the Gardiner boys basketball continued its late-season march toward the Eastern Maine Class B tournament with a 56-41 win against Lincoln Academy before a noisy, packed gym.
With three games remaining in the regular season, the Tigers are 7-8 and tied with Belfast for the 13th and final playoff spot in Eastern B. Thursday night’s win was their fourth in a row.
“Coach is always preaching defense, defense, defense,” Gardiner senior Tyler Jamison said. “Defense leads to offense. If we stay aggressive we’ll do good, we think.”
Jamison has been the offensive catalyst, averaging 22 points over the last six games. He topped that Thursday night with 29 points on 10 of 14 shooting. He scored 18 of his points, including three 3-pointers, in the first half to help the Tigers to a 32-24 lead.
“When it happens you want to keep it going,” Jamison said of being in the zone. “It’s great.”
The Eagles (3-12) shot well in the first quarter despite losing senior starter Tom Masters with an injured wrist in the opening minute. They hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter and trailed 17-16. They have an effective low post player in 6-foot-5 senior Caleb Farrin (10 points) but didn’t get the ball on a consistent basis.
“That’s a sign that we have some young guards who have trouble getting him the ball,” Lincoln coach Chris McKenney said.
The Tigers did a good job of rotating Trevor Austin, Jensen Orewiler and Brad Weston on the taller Farrin.
“Guys are understanding their roles,” Gardiner coach Jason Cassidy said. “They understand that we have a couple of seniors who getting a lot of minutes.”
In addition to Jamison, senior point guard Dennis Meehan rarely leaves the floor. Thursday, he turned in a typical statistical line with eight points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals.
The Tigers led by 10 points early in the fourth quarter before pulling away with an 8-0 run that included a layup by Weston, jumpers in the lane from Jamison and Austin and a pair of free throws by Jamison. The Eagles tried a box-and-1 defense on Jamison in the third quarter, but later took it off.
“I think we frustrated him a little bit,” McKenney said. “It took him down a hair. He had a great night tonight. He’s a hell of a player. He’s fun to watch.”
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638