GARDINER — With big man Aaron Toman out with an ankle injury, the Gardiner boys basketball team had to find a way to minimize Leavitt’s advantage in the paint.

“We were down Toman, so we weren’t going to pound it inside,” Gardiner coach Jason Cassidy said.

The solution? Run.

The Tigers played excellent transition basketball, particularly in the second quarter, when they pulled away to an 18-point halftime lead. That cushion was enough to withstand Leavitt’s second-half rally, and the Tigers took a 61-55 win at Bragoli Gym.

“We do fastbreak drills every practice, for 20 minutes to a half hour. (Cassidy) really stresses it,” said Tyler Jamison, who scored 14 of his game-high 19 points in the second quarter. “The more we run, the better we are.”

Gardiner (10-1) trailed 13-11 after one quarter, but once the Tigers got running, they began to roll. Gardiner outscored Leavitt (8-3) 28-8 in the quarter, and closed the frame with an 11-0 run, capped by Jamison’s buzzer beater, which gave the Tigers a 39-21 halftime lead.

“My shot was just feeling good, and I was feeling good. I knew I had to step it up because Toman was out. Things were going down for me,” Jamison said.

Added Cassidy: “I’ve been telling these guys since we lost to Medomak early in the season, if we’re going to compete with Leavitt, Medomak and Camden and Winslow, we’re going to have to develop a transition game. The kids really played it to a T tonight.”

Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway felt his team lacked intensity in the first half.

“In the second quarter, our defense was atrocious. They were getting great shots, and that was the difference,” Hathaway said. “They did a good job looking up the floor and moving it with the pass. But we didn’t sprint back like we should. We didn’t stop the ball. We let guys dribble all the way to the paint.”

Back-to-back 3-pointers from Tyler Walton and Andrew Middleton pulled the Hornets within four points, 49-45, early in the fourth quarter. Jake Palmer’s three-point play with 45 seconds left gave Gardiner a 60-51 lead, and sealed the game.

Jordan Hersom led Leavitt with 18 points and 16 rebounds. Matt Hall had 16 points and 14 rebounds for Gardiner.

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