BANGOR — Gardiner boys basketball coach Jason Cassidy had a feeling about his team as it prepared to play in the Eastern B regional final for the first time.

“They’re not ready to be done,” Cassidy said.

Because of an outstanding effort on the Bangor Auditorium floor Saturday, being done is the last thing the Tigers need to worry about.

Gardiner took the lead midway through the first quarter and never looked back, on its way to a 70-58 win over previously undefeated Mt. Desert Island in the Eastern Maine Class B championship game.

“It’s an awesome feeling. We’ve been playing together since first grade, kindergarten,” Gardiner senior guard Jake Palmer, who scored a game-high 23 points, said.

The Tigers (19-2) will make their first state championship game appearance against Yarmouth (17-4), which also upset an undefeated team, Falmouth, to win the Western Maine title. Tip off is set for 8:45 p.m., Friday at the Bangor Auditorium.

“Every game we went this year, we had to play basketball. You had to defend, you had to get your offense working, and I think that helped us tonight,” Cassidy said.

MDI (20-1) led 5-2 early, but a 9-0 Gardiner run gave the Tigers the lead for good. In the first half, Gardiner shot 57 percent from the floor (16 for 28). Palmer’s 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the first half gave Gardiner a 37-24 lead at the break.

“They came out with great intensity, and it kind of looked like they’d make the first run,” Cassidy said. “Our kids kind of took the punch, and gave it right back to them.”

Added Gardiner center Aaron Toman: “It seemed like we were on fire in the first half.”

In the first half, Toman (16 points, eight rebounds) was hitting the 10-15 foot jump shot, and that forced the Trojans to adjust their defense. When they did, it opened layup chances. Toman’s accuracy also prevented the Trojans from getting into their transition game, which Cassidy thought was key.

“Early on, it seemed like they didn’t want to come out on Toman, and when he’s hitting those jump shots, there’s just nothing for them to clean up and run on us,” Cassidy said.

Defensively, the Tigers completely shut down Ben Walls, MDI’s leading scorer. Walls spent much of the second half on the bench after picking up his fourth foul with 5:33 to play in the third quarter, but even before that, the 15 points per game forward was a non-factor. A number of players defended Walls, who finished with just two points, a pair of second quarter free throws.

“The game plan is Alonzo Connor and Dennis Meehan, shut him down. Tyler Jamison came off the bench and did a great job shutting him down, and at one point Justin Lovely went over and shut him down,” Cassidy said. “When you have kids on your bench saying ‘Hey Coach, let me take him for a little bit,’ it makes you feel pretty good.”

The Trojans cut Gardiner’s lead to seven points, 59-52, on a Jason Burke three-point play with just under two minutes to play, but the Tigers made seven foul shots in the final minute to seal the win.

“They hit their shots, and there’s no getting around that,” Burke, who had 15 points and 14 rebounds, said. “We tried to pick up the intensity of them, tried to pressure them a little bit, it didn’t phase them, I guess.”

Connor had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Gardiner, while Lovely added 10 points. Adam Gray led MDI with 17 points.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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