BANGOR — Matt Hall is listed as 6-feet tall, and that might be a mild stretch for the Gardiner Area High School senior. One thing is clear, whether he’s 6-foot, 5-11 or as tall as the Paul Bunyan statue that stands in front of the Bangor Auditorium, Hall can jump.

It’s rare that a rebound will elicit oohs and ahhs from the crowd, but Hall’s offensive rebound with just over 4 minutes left in the Tigers’ Eastern B semifinal game boys basketball against Medomak Valley did just that. There was Hall, in the middle of the key, outjumping Medomak Valley’s 6-7 John Murray for the ball. Hall scored on the putback, giving the Tigers the lead they would not surrender.

No. 3 Gardiner (18-2) scored the last seven points of the game, all from the line, during a 57-46 win to advance to the Eastern B finals for the first time in school history. No. 2 Medomak Valley finished 17-3.

The win avenged a pair of loses to Medomak Valley this season, one in the regular season and one in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B championship.

Gardiner coach Jason Cassidy called Hall’s super rebound and score, which gave Gardiner a 43-41 lead, the turning point of the game.

“The whole Gardiner side of that building, and probably any fan in that building, respected what he just did right there,” Cassidy said.

Added Hall, who had 12 boards — six offensive — to go with his 14 points: “I guess I was really high on that rebound. I knew there was people in front of me, so I had to get higher than them. … I knew we needed rebounds from me. I started off slow in the first, with one rebound. I saw that and knew I had to get rebounds to carry my team.”

Offensively, the star of the day for Gardiner was senior guard Jake Palmer, who scored a game-high 33 points and was a perfect 11 for 11 at the free-throw line. Palmer made 10 of his foul shots in the fourth quarter. Two of them came with 3 minutes, 49 seconds to go when the Panthers were issued a technical foul for having six players on the court after a timeout.

With Medomak Valley playing tight defense on Gardiner’s Aaron Toman, Palmer knew he would get the chance to score.

“They just sagged off me a little bit, and I decided to keep shooting it,” Palmer said.

The teams traded the lead in the first half, and the Panthers opened up a 36-29 lead late in the third quarter. Gardiner stuck with its game plan, playing full-court defense and rotating seven players in and out of the lineup, hoping to make the Panthers work and tire out. Cassidy figured Medomak Valley would melt down a little if pressed the entire game.

“Every team here is going to make mistakes when they’re mentally fatigued and physically fatigued, so that was our game plan, that we could make our run a little sooner than we had in the past,” Cassidy said. “It turned out that they got a little antsy and had a couple calls go against their way.”

Murray led Medomak Valley with 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Alex Greenrose added 10 points.

As a team, Gardiner was 17 for 21 from the line.

“We need to shoot free throws to win that game,” Cassidy said.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]


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