It’s been easy to take Gardiner Area High School senior Aaron Toman for granted the past couple of years.

Just 6-foot-3 1/2, Toman has been a mainstay in the post for the Tigers. He’s had his share of big games, but his consistency sometimes makes him a little anonymous. Check the box score and Toman always had his 15 points and 10 rebounds, often without any fanfare, and usually against taller opponents.

“He’s going to get us 10 rebounds and four or five putbacks every night,” Gardiner coach Jason Cassidy said.

This year, Toman stood out a little more as he helped the 19-3 Tigers win an Eastern Maine Class B championship and make their first-ever appearance in a state title game. For his efforts, he’s been named the Kennebec Journal Boys Basketball Player of the Year. Gardiner’s Jake Palmer and Cony’s Walker Cooper were also considered.

After a growth spurt of three or four inches before his sophomore year, Toman made a smooth transition from the wing player to the low post where he came into his own his junior and senior years.

“I’m not the quickest guy, but I’ve got some pretty long arms,” Toman said. “I body up on defense and try not to let them get anything easy.”

Toman has steadily expanded his game. Most of his points last season came in the paint, but after an offseason of hard work, he became an accomplished shooter from 15 feet. He hit a number of those shots while scoring 24 points in the state championship loss to Yarmouth.

“He spent a lot of time on elbow jumpers,” Cassidy said. “He shot such a high percentage from that 15-foot range it really opened up the things we could do as a team.”

Toman worked just as hard to become one of the top rebounders and defenders in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference.

“Coach Cassidy always said defense and rebounding wins games,” Toman said. “Our motto was limit the opposing team to one shot.”

The Tigers were a team of overachievers, especially when it came to rebounding. Matt Hall, at 6-foot-1, and Alonzo Connor, at 6-0, were relentless on the glass.

“Matt and Alonzo are just great rebounders,” Toman said. “They’re real athletic. For me it has a lot to do with reading the angles. Also, we all box out.”

Cassidy said Toman’s patience and the ability to let the game come to him is one of his strengths. He’s a student of the game, too, which is why he anticipates where rebounds are going. But his greatest strengths were his mental toughness and leadership qualities.

“The second half of our season we were fatigued,” Cassidy said. “(Aaron) is so wiry and so tough-minded. He was absolutely our leader.”

Toman was unanimously elected a captain by his teammates and embraced the role. Cassidy said it’s simply a carryover from his larger role as a student/athlete.

“He’s not just a leader on the basketball team, he’s a leader in the school and community,” Cassidy said.

Toman plans to attend the University of Southern Maine and play basketball next year. He may have to reinvent his game again.

“I need to gain some weight,” he said. “I’ll probably be a 3 or a 4. I’ll be looking to get to the 3-point line, work on ballhandling and creating my own shot.”

He plans to major in secondary education and would like to become a math teacher and a coach.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

[email protected]


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