GARDINER — Two weeks ago, their seasons were headed in opposite directions, but that was two weeks ago.
Thursday night, Maranacook played one of its better games of the season and in the process eliminated Gardiner from postseason play with a 64-54 win.
Gardiner, which graduated all five starters from last season’s Eastern Maine Class B championship team, finishes its season at 7-11. Maranacook (8-10) likely earned a home prelim game next week by moving into No. 8 spot in Western Maine Class B.
“We’re just playing as a team, that’s all I can say,” Maranacook center Kyle Boucher said. “We’ve had our ups and downs throughout the season, but what we really needed to do was play as a team and I feel like we’ve been doing that a lot better.”
Boucher, a 6-foot-8 senior, finished with 18 points and controlled the boards with 17 rebounds. He had plenty of help, though. Sophomore Cam Brochu scored 15 points, including 11 in the second quarter, Jesse Evans added 13 and Taylor Wilbur 12.
Just as important was the defensive job Evans and Wilbur did as the primary defenders against Gardiner’s two scoring leaders, Tyler Jamison and Dennis Meehan. Jamison finished with 11 points while Meehan scored five.
“They controlled the boards, they controlled the tempo, it was their style of game,” Jamison said. “They’ve got a lot of the threats. You collapse (on Boucher), they just kick it out. They have shooters.”
The Black Bears jumped out to a 7-0 lead and never trailed. Wilbur scored eight points in the first quarter and Brochu took over in the second, hitting three 3-pointers and a pair of free throws. The Tigers cut the lead to three (24-21) when Jamison drilled a 3 from the left side but that was as close as they would get as the Black Bears led 32-24 at intermission.
“We’re really starting to distribute the ball much better, find the open men, take the smart shots,” Maranacook coach Rob Schmidt said. “I’m very happy with the team play.”
The Tigers drew strong games from sophomore Brad Weston (13 points) and senior Jensen Orewiler (15), but they had no answer for Boucher and company.
“They were on their A game tonight,” Gardiner coach Jason Cassidy. “Boucher, you’ve got to double down and dig on him, and they shot the ball very well.”
The Black Bears opened the second half on a 9-3 run and closed the third quarter with a pair of 3s from Caleb Jackson to take a 49-35 lead. Gardiner graduates four seniors, including three starters in Jamison, Meehan and Orewiler.
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638