The Gardiner Area High School boys basketball team came from behind in both of its tournament wins this week. For coach Jason Cassidy, all that did was reinforce his team’s resiliency.

“Our kids don’t quit,” Cassidy said. “They fight all game, that’s for sure.”

Gardiner (19-2), the No. 3 seed in Eastern Class B, plays in the regional final for the first time today, taking on top-seeded and undefeated Mt. Desert Island (20-0). Tip-off at the Bangor Auditorium is at 3:45 p.m.

Gardiner has already set a school record for wins in a season, while MDI is playing for its first trip to the state final since 1995.

The Tigers and the Trojans are unfamiliar foes, playing in different leagues, but their styles are similar.

“They can the run the floor and shoot. They’re everything we’ve seen in the (Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference),” Cassidy said.

MDI coach Justin Norwood said he watched Gardiner beat Medomak Valley 57-46 in the semifinals and has been studying the Tigers on film.

“We’re getting a little familiar with how they play,” Norwood said.

The Trojans are led by junior forward Ben Walls, who averages around 15 points per game. The rest of MDI’s starters average around nine points per game, giving the Trojans balance.

“Our starting five has been strong all season. You couldn’t pay me to figure out who my team’s MVP is,” Norwood said.

Senior Jayson Burke, at 6-feet, 2-inches, and junior Adam Gray (6-3) give MDI some size in the low post, but as Cassidy likes to point out, the Tigers have played bigger teams all season. Forward Matt Hall has averaged 11 rebounds per game in the playoffs, and forward Alonzo Connor also is strong on the glass.

“Their kids aren’t as tall as our kids, but they play bigger,” Norwood said.

At 6-3, Aaron Toman is Gardiner’s biggest player and a scoring threat. If the Trojans focus too much attention on him, other players have proven they can score for the Tigers. Guard Jake Palmer scored 33 points against Medomak Valley on Wednesday.

Also, Hall and Connor are dangerous if they get offensive rebounds and second chance baskets.

“Toman’s not as tall as a lot of the guys he plays against, but let him loose and he’s going to have a game on you,” Cassidy said. “If teams are saying ‘You other guys have to beat us,’ then let’s do it.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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