All season, both the Gardiner and Yarmouth boys basketball teams have played against taller teams and won. Now that each has made it to the Class B state championship game, they get to take on an opponent who doesn’t take the court with a size advantage.

“They’re not huge, yet they play awfully big,” Gardiner coach Jason Cassidy said of Yarmouth, and the same can be said of his team. With one player over 6-foot-1, the Tigers outworked bigger teams throughout the Eastern Maine Class B tournament to win their first regional title.

“The height disadvantage hasn’t affected them,” Yarmouth coach Adam Smith said of Gardiner. “They’re a close-knit team. There’s no time when the chips are down in the game with them.”

Gardiner (19-2) and Yarmouth (17-4) will play for the Class B state title at 8:45 tonight at the Bangor Auditorium.

This isn’t the first state championship game appearance for Yarmouth, just the first in a generation. The Clippers last played in a state game in 1973, losing the Class C title game to Sumner.

Gardiner will have to contend with Yarmouth’s full-court pressure, something the Tigers didn’t see a lot in the regular season. The Clippers like to speed up the pace, and that helped them race out to big leads over Lincoln (54-12 at the half) and Spruce Mountain (28-14 at the half) in the Western Maine tournament.

“They’ve really jumped some teams in the tournament,” Cassidy said.

The Clippers have one of the top offensive players in the state in senior guard Josh Britten, who averaged around 21 points per game this season.

“The one thing people miss about Josh is his defensive ability,” Smith said. “He’s a high-energy guy.”

Cassidy said the Tigers will make defending Britten a team effort. Just about everybody will take a turn guarding Britten.

“We’ll try and keep a fresh guy on him at all times,” Cassidy said. “We’re not changing up what we do. We got it done in the (Eastern) tournament with defense.”

Seniors Chris Knaub and Sam Torres are also scorers for Yarmouth. Knaub scored a career-high 26 points, including five 3-pointers, in the Clippers’ 56-50 win over undefeated Falmouth in the regional final. Torres averaged 11 points per game in the tournament.

“Those guys knew they had to step up and make a good season of it, or we were going to struggle,” Smith said.

In the playoffs, Gardiner’s go-to guy on offense has been senior guard Jake Palmer, who averaged 21 points per game in the Eastern Maine tournament. Center Aaron Toman can score in the low post or shoot the mid-range jumper. Forwards Matt Hall and Alonzo Connor each had double-digit scoring games in the playoffs, as did guard Justin Lovely.

“It’s almost like looking in a mirror at times,” Smith said. “They’re probably more physical than we are.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

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