Two weeks ago, Gardiner beat Medomak Valley to improve to 4-4 and make a big leap in the Eastern B Heal point standings. The win seemed to give the Tigers confidence and momentum to take into the new year.

It hasn’t turned out that way. Since beating Medomak, the Tigers are 0-4, and the same issues they’d hoped they could leave behind after that win, have lingered.

“It’s been more of the same. We’ve just been in close games we just can’t quite finish out,” Gardiner coach Mike Gray said.

Tuesday’s 47-46 loss at Leavitt was the closest, but a six-point loss to Lincoln, a nine-point loss to Maranacook and an eight-point defeat at the hands of Oceanside have been equally frustrating because the Tigers can point to short stretches where they’ve sabotaged otherwise competitive performances.

“The story of our season has been most games we play really well for 25 to 28 minutes, but there’s always a four or five-minute stretch where we struggle,” Gray said. “Sometimes it’s on offense. Sometimes it’s on defense. Sometimes it’s at both ends. In the Oceanside game, we gave up 15 points in the first five minutes. (Tuesday) night against Leavitt, I think we had a stretch where we scored four points the whole quarter.”

The plus side, Gray said, is the Tigers know they can play with anyone. The points from the Medomak win still have them in the thick of the tournament hunt (they were ranked 10th in Eastern B Wednesday night) and there are plenty of Heal points still available.

Another reason for optimism — they are almost done with their road schedule. They are 0-7 on the road. Upcoming rematches with Nokomis, Winslow, Spruce Mountain and Maranacook are all at home.

“The teams that gave us the hardest time the first time around we all get at home this time,” Gray said. “We’ve talked to the kids about how we have a six-game season then we’ll see where we go from there.”

• • •

Through a quirk in the schedule, the Richmond Bobcats played six of their first eight games on the road. They fared pretty well with a 5-3 record, including 4-2 as the visitors.

The Bobcats started a four-game homestand Wednesday against Pine Tree. Even though they lost, 35-32, to the 10-1 Breakers, coach Mike Ladner is glad his team won’t have to set foot on a bus for another week.

“It’s going to be nice to be home for a little while,” Ladner said following Wednesday’s game. “It would have been nice to start it off with a win, but that’s OK. We’ve got two games against Vinalhaven Friday and Saturday, so (Thursday) night, we go right back to work, right back to practice.”

The Bobcats could use some home remedies while they’re home. Three players missed Wednesday’s game due to illness, and starting shooting guard Kalah Patterson has been out for a month with torn foot ligaments. Richmond had only eight players on Wednesday.

Ladner expects the sick players to be back soon, and doctors haven’t ruled out a return by Patterson.

“She’s been out since the last Pine Tree game (on Dec. 18) so they were talking maybe another two or three weeks,” Ladner said. “She might be back in time for the tournament. After that, it’s going to be about conditioning.”

After the weekend back-to-back with Vinalhaven, the Bobcats host rival Buckfield on Tuesday before returning to the road for a game with Class C Kents Hill on Wednesday and Greenville the following Friday.

• • •

Now that the Lawrence and Rangeley girls basketball teams have celebrated players reaching the 1,000 career points milestone, they are ready to make the second half push and try to retain the top seed in their respective regions.

“It was a personal goal to get 1,000 points, but it’s not exactly the main priority,” Lawrence junior Nia Irving said a day after scoring her 1,000th career point in the Bulldogs’ win over Brewer. “I’d rather win a gold ball.”

On the same night Irving was making history at Lawrence’s Folsom Gym, Rangeley senior Taylor Esty scored her 1,000th career point in a win at Buckfield.

“Someone asked me two or three weeks ago how close I was, and I was like, ‘I don’t know, 200, 300 points?'” Esty said on Thursday night. “When I found out I was only two away on Friday, I was like ‘wow.’ I honestly didn’t think I was that close.”

Both Lawrence and Rangeley are undefeated, Lawrence is 12-0 and Rangeley is 10-0, and the goal for each is to finish the regular season strongly and be playing its best basketball at tourney time.

Three of Lawrence’s final six games are against teams with a winning record. The biggest game will be the next to last game of the regular season, at Bangor (11-1). That game could be for the top seed in Eastern Class A.

“We don’t want to have an early exit like last year,” Irving said, referring to Lawrence’s quarterfinal loss to Messalonskee in the 2014 tournament.

Rangeley has a big game on Friday at Forest Hills (11-1). The Lakers finish the regular season with four games at home.

While Irving is focused now on the Bulldogs’ team goals, she was excited to join her sister, Brogan Liberty, in Lawrence’s 1,000-point club. Liberty was the last Lawrence player to score 1,000 points, reaching the milestone in 2008.

“My favorite thing about it is joining my sister,” Irving said.

• • •

Around the state: Thornton (10-1) has allowed more than 30 points just twice this season, once in a season-opening 37-34 win over McAuley, and a 50-33 win over South Portland… Since that opening night loss to Thornton, McAuley has won 10 consecutive games. The winner of the last four Class A state titles, McAuley goes for 11 wins in a row on Friday at home against Sanford… Four-time defending Class D state champ Washburn was 10-0 going into Wednesday night’s game against Easton. The Beavers have had just one close game, a 47-44 win over Fort Fairfield.

Staff Writer Travis Lazarczyk contributed to this report

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

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Twitter: @RAWmaterial33