GARDINER — Skowhegan’s patience and Gardiner’s sense of urgency made for an entertaining contrast in styles Saturday at John Bragoli Memorial Gymnasium.

In the end, patience won out, but just barely. Gardiner senior Brian Dunn watched as his driving layup rimmed out at the buzzer to preserve a 49-48 overtime win for the Indians.

With a game or two left in the regular season, both teams appear headed for the Class A North tournament. Skowhegan is in eighth place at 7-9 while Gardiner is a spot ahead of the Indians at 7-10.

“We’ve been down a little bit,” Skowhegan coach Tom Nadeau. “We haven’t played the way we’ve been playing the last two or three weeks. We’ve talked about being focused on what’s in front of us and we did that tonight.”

Earlier in the season, Gardiner came away with a 41-40 victory at Skowhegan. Saturday night’s game unfolded the same way with nine ties and 13 lead changes. The Tigers were down 45-42 following a pair of free throws from Brendan Curran (13 points) with 5.7 seconds left in regulation. The Tigers pushed the ball up the floor and gave it to senior Eli Fish, who drained a 3-pointer from the top of the circle to tie the game at 45 as the buzzer sounded.

“That was a heck of a shot, Nadeau said. “He had a defender right on him. Our kids acted like we had lost the game. We had to tell them to refocus and that we still had four minutes left.”

Garrett McSweeney converted a rebound to put the Indians up 47-45 in overtime then Gardiner’s Jordan Lamb (18 points, 10 rebounds) made one of two from the free throw line. Two free throws from Curran put Skowhegan up 49-45 before Dunn (nine points, eight rebounds) cut the lead to a point with a putback.

Skowhegan’s Isaac Witham (15 points) missed a pair of foul shots with 7.3 seconds left to set up the final scenario. Dunn drove the length of the floor, split two defenders and banked the ball off the glass just before the horn sounded.

“That shot goes in 99 out of 100 times.” Dunn said. “I had to take it with time running out. I thought I used that backboard well, but apparently just a couple of (bad bounces).”

The Indians, who gave away size to the Tigers, went to a zone defense in the second half in order to limit Lamb’s touches in the paint.

“They killed us inside the first time,” Nadeau said. “We needed to switch it up, protect the paint and put us in position to win.”

Gardiner lost rugged 6-foot-2 junior Ben Shaw when he twisted his ankle in the first half. He scored five quick points in the first quarter and his absence hurt.

“He had 14 against them last time,” Gardiner coach Jason Cassidy said. “He was a big part of our game plan. When we lost Ben they tightened up on Jordan.”

The Indians trailed 20-18 at the half and stuck with their game plan, out-scoring the 6-5 in the third period, holding the ball on offense for 45 seconds at a time.

“We have a lot of patience,” McSweeney said. “We want to get the best shot we possibly can and make their defense work.”

Lamb scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter and Fish, who made four 3s, hit one from the right side to give the Tigers a 35-31 lead, their biggest of the game. Witham answered with four straight points and McSweeney a layup to put Skowhegan back on top.

“We’ve been talking about mental toughness and what it takes to win at the end,” Nadeau said. “and patience needs to happen. It was right on our scouting report, patience.”


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