Gardiner Area High School boys basketball coach Jason Cassidy and his staff sat in the bleachers and scouted Wednesday night’s preliminary round game between Waterville and Nokomis. Cassidy was glad to not be playing in a prelim game himself.

“I like that we’re going right to Bangor,” Cassidy said. “We’ve had some good practices this week. It gives us a chance to get back to fundamental basketball.”

Gardiner (16-2), the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Class B boys tournament, will open the quarterfinals against No. 6 Nokomis (14-5) at 5 p.m. today at the Bangor Auditorium. Other quarterfinal games are No. 10 Oceanside (12-7) vs. No. 2 Medomak Valley (16-2), No. 8 Camden Hills (12-7) vs. No. 1 Mt. Desert Island (18-0) and No. 5 Presque Isle (14-5) vs. No. 4 Ellsworth (14-5).

A Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B team has won the region each year for 11 consecutive years.

When they played on Jan. 20 in Newport, Gardiner took a 68-50 win over the Warriors. Nokomis led that game by six at halftime before Gardiner pulled away in the second half. All-conference guard Jake Palmer led the Tigers with 24 points.

“We had the lead at the half, then Palmer, we lost control of him a little bit. That was the difference in the game. If we can contain Palmer and not let (Aaron) Toman get too many offensive boards, I think we can play with them,” Nokomis coach Carl Parker said. “Obviously, they’re a very good team. They’ve got a lot of heart.”

For Gardiner, contending with Nokomis’ size and speed is key. The Warriors feature all-conference guard Ethan Pearl, along with 6-foot-6 Andrew Cartright, who can play inside or step to the perimeter and make a 3-pointer, and 6-8 William Cartright.

“We don’t throw a lot of big guys on the floor,” Cassidy said. “Nokomis wants to make you run.”

Oceanside advanced with a 69-57 win at No. 7 Winslow in the prelims. The Mariners will be without power forward Tyler Gleason, who averaged eight points and nine rebounds per game before breaking his ankle in a 71-64 loss to Medomak Valley late in the regular season.

Oceanside must contend with 6-7 John Murray, one of the top big men in the state, as well as sharpshooting twins Isaac and Alex Greenrose.

“We’ve got to limit their looks and be a little more patient,” Oceanside coach Matt Breen said. “We don’t want the score getting too high. Now, with our big man out, we’re going with more of a four-guard lineup, so hopefully we can use that to make them adjust, rather than us have to adjust to them.”

Oceanside is led by guard Ben Wallace, who scored 28 points in Wednesday’s win against Winslow, and forward Shea Davenport.

Top-seed Mt. Desert Island has a tough quarterfinal draw in Camden Hills. The Windjammers are the defending state champs and have won three consecutive regional titles. Camden Hills started the season 6-0, but was slowed by an ankle injury to Colin Morse. A sophomore, Morse returned to the lineup for Wednesday’s 69-50 win over No. 9 Washington Academy, scoring 15 points and grabbing seven rebounds.

Senior guard Adam Carlsen leads the Windjammers. Chandler Crans also is a scoring threat for Camden Hills.

MDI, one of two undefeated teams in Class B (Falmouth is the other), is led by junior forward Ben Walls. Forward Jayson Burke and center Adam Gray are also strong players for the Trojans.

Ellsworth beat Presque Isle twice in the regular season. Seniors Thomas Sawyer, Nick Holt and Kyle Haslam lead Ellsworth, a strong defensive team. Presque Isle enters the quarterfinals winner of six games in a row, including a prelim win over rival Caribou.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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