GARDINER — Even a team that likes to play an up-tempo style can be caught off guard by the speed with which Maranacook plays the game of basketball.

So it wasn’t a complete shock when Gardiner found itself in a 19-5 hole less than four minutes into Tuesday night’s Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference contest with the Black Bears.

Luckily for the Tigers, they didn’t stay in shock for long.

Gardiner started slowly but finished strong, limiting Maranacook to two points in the final 4 minutes, 51 seconds to emerge with a 65-59 win at John A. Bragoli Memorial Gym.

Brad Weston led the Tigers (8-2) with 18 points and six rebounds. Jordan Lamb added 14 points and eight boards and Seth McFarland had 14 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals.

“At the beginning of the game, I think they were out-hustling us, and then we picked it up, especially after halftime,” Lamb said.

Kent Mohlar led the Black Bears (3-7) with 19 points and six rebounds despite being plagued with foul trouble most of the night. Jason Brooks chipped in with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Cam Brochu had 13 points and nine boards.

First McFarland, then Mohlar, went to their respective benches with their third foul midway through the third quarter. McFarland returned to the floor 18 seconds after Mohlar drew his third, however, and led Gardiner on a 16-5 run to end the quarter and take its first lead.

“I think when Seth got on that little roll, when we put him back in with the three fouls, he kind of took over the game right there,” Gardiner coach Jason Cassidy said. “That gave us some momentum, and Weston finally started controlling the boards for a long stretch. We were giving them three shots (in a possession) in the first half and we started limiting them to one and that helped us out a little bit.”

With Maranacook trailing 55-51, Mohlar returned to the game with 6:50 remaining.

“We had no choice,” Maranacook coach Rob Schmidt said. “We felt like, without him, it would slip away even more and what would we have to lose at that point?”

The Black Bears rallied to tie it at 57-57 on Brochu’s three-point play with 4:52 to go. Weston and Brandon Douglas worked a nice give-and-go and Douglas’ only field goal of the game put the Tigers back in front for good with three minutes left.

Lamb followed with a hoop inside and Weston scored on a layup off a Maranacook turnover to make it 63-57. Mohlar fouled out with 1:37 to go and the Bears didn’t score again until Brooks’ putback with 18.8 seconds to play.

Mohlar scored Maranacook’s first seven points to help it build a quick 14 point lead at the start of the game.

“We just came out flat,” McFarland said. “We’ve got to come out with more intensity next time.”

The Tigers picked up the defensive intensity to close the quarter with an 8-2 run for a 23-15 deficit heading into the second quarter.

“Gardiner just doesn’t quit, and we knew they wouldn’t,” Schmidt said. “I think we started making some dumb decisions. We didn’t take care of the ball. We didn’t value every possession, and a good team like that, they’re going to make you pay.”

Seven Maranacook turnovers in the second quarter helped the Tigers pull within three on McFarland’s three-point play, but the Black Bears scored six of the final eight points of the period to take a seven point lead into halftime.

Levi Emery’s 3-pointer gave the Black Bears a 10-point lead early in the third quarter, but the game ended up following an painfully familiar script for Schmidt.

“Too many close losses for us,” said Schmidt, whose team has lost five games by seven points or less.

Gardiner, meanwhile, rides a two-game winning streak into a game at 7-3 Oceanside on Thursday.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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