GARDINER — A brutal schedule and Hampden Academy’s effective zone defense caught up to the Gardiner Area High School girls basketball team Tuesday night.

The visiting Broncos (9-6) trailed briefly in the third quarter but rallied in the fourth to post a 44-40 victory, jumping them to fourth place in the Class A North tournament standings.

“It was a very big game,” said Erica Martin, one of two seniors on the Hampden roster. “It’s going to help us move up in the standings so it was very nice to get this W tonight.”

Gardiner (12-3) maintained a two-point edge over the Broncos in Class A North with tough games remaining this week against Messalonskee and Skowhegan. The Tigers were playing their fourth game in five days Tuesday and the schedule took its toll.

“It had to (affect us),” Gardiner coach Mike Gray said. “There were stretches where I thought we were just flat and got out-worked. Maybe that happens anyway, maybe it doesn’t. In the second quarter especially we didn’t have any legs.”

The Tigers struggled against Hampden’s 1-3-1 zone, anchored by 6-foot-2 freshman Bailey Donovan (10 points, 11 rebounds). The bulk of their offense came from junior Lauren Chadwick (17 points), who came way with a half dozen steals and converted five of those into layups. Junior Mary Toman (13 points, 11 rebounds) battled well inside despite giving away four or five inches to Donovan, but otherwise the Tigers were stone cold from the field. Shooting just 28 percent (16 for 56).

“The 1-3-1 seems to work really well for us,” Martin said. “We’re all good at talking so we have each other’s back.”

Gardiner trailed 10-9 at the end of the first quarter and 21-15 at the half as Chadwick kept it close with three steals for layups and a 3-pointer. But no one else could get it going.

“Every night we know what Chadwick and Toman are going to do,” Gray said. “It’s a matter of getting other kids to step up and tonight we didn’t as much as we normally do.”

The Tigers looked like a different team to open the second half. They applied full-court pressure and opened with six straight points — four off steals by Leslie Stevens and Chadwick — to tie the game at 21. They outscored the Broncos 14-8 in the quarter, which ended at 29-all.

“We did weather it,” Hampden coach Tim Scott said of the quarter. “We got through those eight minutes. I thought in the fourth quarter we played real hard, we took care of the basketball and we made our foul shots.”

Hampden’s Brooklynn Scott opened the fourth period with a 3-pointer from the right side and Gardiner never regained the lead. Martin cashed a pair of layups to jump the lead to 36-31 and the Broncos made eight of 10 free throws down the stretch. Toman made all seven of Gardiner’s free throws for the game, including six in the fourth quarter, but the combination of Hampden’s size and the Tigers’ cold shooting was too much to overcome.

“They’re all big strong kids,” Gray said. “That’s not how we’re built. That’s not what our team does.”


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