Editor’s note: This story was edited at 2:25 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10 to correct Sam Morin’s name.

WALES — Members of the Gardiner basketball team called it a good victory but quickly turned their attention to their next foe, rival Maranacook.

Oak Hill first-year coach Tom Smith simply called it “a learning experience.”

“They are a very good team and we are a young team,” he said. “It’s the first varsity game. We have a lot to work on.”

Jake Palmer scored 19 points and Aaron Toman added 18 in two quarters to lead Gardiner past Oak Hill 98-18 in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B boys basketball season opener for both teams Friday night.

Tyler Jamison scored 18 points and Alonzo Connor added 12 to power the Tigers, who used a 23-0 run in the first half to pull away.

“We weren’t trying to run it up,” Gardiner coach Jason Cassidy said. “It’s hard to tell the kids at the end of the bench to not play hard. We know what it’s like to be down and so we didn’t want to run it up.”

Smith agreed, saying his Raiders were simply overmatched against a Gardiner team that returned eight players and entered the winter with postseason aspirations.

“When you turn it over 30-plus times and they turn them into layups, it’s not running it up,” he said. “We couldn’t stop them. They are just a great team. But we just kept coaching. We’ll learn from it.”

The Tigers, who won just five games two years ago, reached the regional semifinals last season.

This year, expectations are higher.

“We are thinking playoffs and we want to go further,” said Toman, who also had 11 rebounds. “It was fun (Friday) and it was a good defensive effort. Oak Hill gave a good effort. They worked real hard and they’ll get better.”

Added Palmer: “We didn’t want to run it up. We were getting prepared for our next game. We have a lot of goals this season.”

If the Tigers wanted to open the season with a bang, they certainly did just that Friday.

Using a pressure defense and a clear size advantage, they forced Oak Hill to commit 33 turnovers.

“We looked good,” Cassidy said. “Palmer showed what he can do. (Justin) Lovely is going to be our defensive stopper, and he played well (Friday). We need to go back and study and get ready for Maranacook.”

Added Smith: “It was tough, but we’ll be OK. We’ll keep playing hard.”

Sam Morin led the Raiders with five points and six rebounds.

Bill Stewart – 621-5640

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