GARDINER — This year’s version of the Gardiner girls basketball team isn’t waiting until the postseason to leave an impression.

Building off their tournament success last winter, the Tigers opened their regular season by running over Medomak Valley 48-18 in Class A action at Bragoli Gym on Friday night.

The Tigers held the Panthers to single digits in each quarter with a smothering man-to-man defense that provided a lot of weak-side help and forced 23 turnovers.

“I figured we’d be able to score,” Gardiner coach Mike Gray said. “We have some weapons but I loved the way we played defense. The rotations have got a lot better this week. We talked about that the last couple of days.

The Tigers return three starters — Mary Toman, Lauren Chadwick and Logan Granholm — from a team that went 7-11 in the regular season a year ago before making an improbable run to the Eastern Maine final.

“We had a big playoff run,” said Toman, the team’s junior center. “Even with our loss to Presque Isle we still entered this year confident, knowing we could get to where we got last year.”

The Tigers gave away some size to the Panthers, who started two players 6 feet or taller, but they made up for it in quickness and experience. They jumped to 14-7 lead in the first quarter behind Toman’s four points and Chadwick’s seven, including a 3-pointer from the right side. Both juniors finished with 14 points and neither played in the fourth quarter.

Medomak went 14-4 last season but graduated its point guard and two leading scorers.

“We knew we were going to struggle offensively,” Medomak coach Randy Hooper said. “Trying to just get the ball entered is a struggle, but we’ll get better at it. I just thought Gardiner did a great job in transition tonight.”

Gray played most of his bench in the first half and everyone contributed. The Tigers extended their lead in the second quarter getting a pair of layups from Toman off the break, and two more from Leslie Stevens and Chadwick following steals. Hailee Lovely contributed a three to the cause while Gardiner’s defense held Medomak to a single point.

“The key was we did a decent job rebounding,” Gray said. “We knew coming in that they were bigger than us. That was my biggest concern. Even on the offensive end we did a pretty good job.”

Chadwick and Nichole Parlin each finished with eight rebounds but the team all had a hand in scrambling for boards and loose balls. The Tigers buried any Panthers hopes of a comeback with a 10-0 run in the last half of the third quarter. Toman had three straight layups and Chadwick capped it with a pair of jumpers to push the lead to 38-13. Parlin grabbed five rebounds in the quarter.

“It was a building process,” Toman said of last season. “We had to learn to work more as a team than individuals. This year I think we have a lot of chemistry with each other so we work more as a team.”

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