GARDINER – The scouting report Gardiner boys basketball coach Jason Cassidy and his staff compiled on Brewer must certainly have resembled those of the Witches’ four previous opponents.

Stop, or at least contain, Matthew Pushard and Carter Smith. So far no one has.

Add the Tigers to that list, although they put together a gutsy comeback in the final four minutes before falling 57-52 in a Class A game at John Bragoli Gymnasium on Friday night.

Brewer is 5-0 while Gardiner falls to 1-3.

Pushard, a burly 6-foot-4 senior center, was just too much for the Tigers to handle in the paint. To compound matters, he can step outside and score as evidenced by his two 3-pointers. He finished with 23 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots. Carter, a 6-3 senior guard with slashing moves to the basket, scored 20 points.

“We had it scouted to a T, but we just couldn’t execute it,” Cassidy said. “We’re still young but the kids are working hard.”

The Tigers trailed by as many as 14 points in the third quarter but cut the lead to four (41-37) with a 10-0 run keyed by an effective three-quarter court trap. Just when it looked as if the momentum had swung completely their way, Pushard nailed a 3 from the top of the circle at the buzzer to quell the crowd.

“He’s a very good basketball player,” Brewer coach Clayton Blood said. “He’s been the key. When you go through a guy like that it helps the others, but we’ll need some of the other kids to pick up.”

The Tigers trailed 52-41 midway through the fourth quarter before putting together a 9-2 run started by 6-4 center Jordan Lamb, who converted a layup. Lamb finished with 19 points, 16 of those in the second half, in one of his stronger efforts so far.

“We’re still trying to get more entries to Jordan,” Cassidy said. “I think his point production can go up but we’re having trouble with post entries right now.”

Camden Gregory followed with a driving layup, Lamb canned a foul line jumper and Eli Fish (11 points) stole the ball and converted a three-point play with 1 minute, 27 seconds left. Pushard answered with two from the line but Lamb converted another layup to make it 56-52. Lamb fouled out shortly thereafter and the Witches sealed it with a free throw.

Smith and Pushard combined for all of Brewer’s 27 points in the first half.

“Carter and I have been playing since fourth grade PAL,” said Pushard, a pitcher/first baseman who will attend the University of Maine next year on a baseball scholarship. “It’s so much fun when you’ve got a group of guys who have played up through. You get all the way to your senior year and it’s really fun to be still with those guys.”

Junior Hunter Chasse scored all eight of his points, including a pair of 3s, in the first half to help keep the Tigers in touch, but the defense allowed Smith to slip downcourt three times for uncontested layups, two on long outlet passes from Pushard.

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