GARDINER — Having a plan and executing it are often two different concepts, but for the Gardiner Area High School boys basketball team, they were one in the same Friday night.

The Tigers (4-1) built a 10-point lead by the end of the first quarter and led by double figures the rest of the way in a 62-43 victory over Spruce Mountain (2-3) in Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B action.

“We saw how they were going to play against us, we made a gameplan and we executed it really well tonight,” senior Seth McFarland, who had a game-high 18 points to go along with six rebounds, said. “We just look to break teams down, put a press on, pressure the ball and get turnovers.”

A combination of a solid 1-3-1 zone defense and a patient offense allowed the Tigers to jump all over the Phoenix in the opening quarter.

After the two teams traded buckets to start the game, McFarland scored a basket with 5 minutes, 34 seconds remaining in the first to give Gardiner a lead it ultimately would never relinquish.

The Tigers’ lead remained just a few points until the final three minutes of the opening quarter, as two baskets from Brad Weston, another from Jordan Lamb and a pair of McFarland free throws allowed Gardiner to close on an 8-0 run.

“We knew we had to come out on fire and we had to put the pressure on them,” McFarland said. “We knew that they weren’t going to take it easy on us so we had to get a good start and keep up the intensity.”

Gardiner’s advantage ballooned to 36-21 at halftime and the Tigers led by 11 points or greater for the remainder of the contest.

McFarland, along with guards Brian Dunn, Alex LaPointe and Brandon Douglas, each played key roles in allowing the Tigers to open their early advantage. Defensively, the group helped force the Phoenix into nine first-half turnovers while shooting 8-for-23 from the field — including 2-for-9 on 3-pointers.

“We wanted to mix looks up,” Gardiner coach Jason Cassidy said. “We knew (Deonte Ring) could get hot, but we wanted to throw some zones in there. They had struggled shooting in one of the games we saw. The Winslow game they were pretty hot so we were going to mix it up on them if they came out and made all those threes.

“…(The cold shooting) allowed us to stay in that zone and that really left us some rebounders in the middle.”

At the offensive end, the group had just three turnovers in the first half against Spruce Mountain’s trapping 3-2 zone and patiently set up the Tigers’ high-low attack with Weston stationed at the free throw line and Lamb on the block.

“We really talk about being patient and aggressive at the same time, if that makes any sense,” Cassidy said. “The three guards and Seth did a great job of distributing the basketball to the big guys.

“We had three and a half scorers tonight, which makes a big difference for our team. We look good when that happens.”

The gameplan allowed Gardiner to routinely get high-percentage shots. For the contest, the Tigers shot 24-for-45 from the floor (53.3 percent) — with the bulk of the attempts coming in the paint — and 1-for-6 on 3-pointers.

Weston joined McFarland in double figures with 17 points and six rebounds, while Lamb chipped in with 16 points and seven rebounds. Dunn added seven points.

Spruce Mountain, meanwhile, finished 17-for-59 from the field (28.8 percent) and 2-for-23 on 3-pointers. Andrew Darling was the lone player in double figures for the Phoenix with 12. Ring — who dealt with foul trouble for the better part of the game — was held to nine points on 4-for-15 shooting.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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