GARDINER — The Winslow girls basketball team saved its best efforts this season for Gardiner.
A win by the Black Raiders against the Tigers in the regular season earned them a tournament prelim game and Tuesday night they took full advantage of that opportunity. Employing an active zone defense, they led from wire to wire en route to a 43-34 upset over Gardiner that earned them their first trip to the Bangor Auditorium in three years.
No. 13 Winslow (7-12) will face No. 5 Mount Desert Island in the quarterfinal round of the Eastern Maine Class B tournament Saturday morning at the Bangor Auditorium. No. 4 Gardiner finishes its season at 14-5.
“We knew there wasn’t any pressure on us coming into this game so we just put it all on the line,” Winslow senior Erica Bertolaccini said. “We just let it flow and had fun.”
Winslow won the regular season meeting, 44-43, rallying from a 14-point deficit after the Tigers got into foul trouble. Tuesday night’s game followed a different script as the Black Raiders jumped to an 8-0 lead as Bertolaccini opened with a 3-pointer from the left side and Meg Nadeau converted a three-point play. You’d never know Gardiner was riding a five-game win streak the way it began the game. The Tigers committed five turnovers before they scored their first basket with 2 minutes, 42 seconds left in the quarter.
“Before the game we weren’t tight,” Gardiner coach Mike Gray said. “We seemed ready to go. A couple of turnovers right off the bat and we couldn’t hit a shot. It gave them what they needed and they just kept going.”
The Black Raiders had some trouble with Gardiner’s full-court zone press, committing 11 turnovers, but they were patient in their halfcourt offense and aggressive in their halfcourt defense.
“Tonight we knew what was at stake,” Winslow coach Lindsey Welch said. “They came in with a little bit of heart and they believed in themselves. That made the difference.”
The Tigers closed the gap to six points (23-17) by halftime as senior Kelsey Moody scored nine of her team-high 14 points in the quarter, including a pair of 3s. But that was as close as they would get. Bertolaccini and sophomore Devin Fitzgibbons opened the third period with driving layups to key a 9-0 run to make it 32-18. Gardiner scored just two points late in the quarter on a putback by Kelly Macomber (six points).
“That was the game plan to make sure we stopped (Macomber) immediately,” Welch said of the Gardiner 6-foot center. “We were taking our chances letting them shoot 3s.”
The risk paid off. The Tigers made just 3 of 17 3-point attempts and shot 13 of 53 (24 percent) overall. Gardiner’s problems were compounded when starting guards Kylee Granholm and Taylor Banister fouled out in the quarter. Fitzgibbons led the Raiders with 14 points and Bertolaccini added 12 but everyone contributed.
“I don’t know how that team only won six games in the regular season because they played great,” Gray said.
Gary Hawkins — 621-5638