GARDINER — With 6-foot-7 center Cameron Allaire in foul trouble throughout the game, Medomak Valley had to find another way to win in its Class A opener against Gardiner on Friday night.

It did.

The Panthers used penetrating drives from seniors Cale Gee and Kyle Donlin along with accurate free throw shooting to down the Tigers 60-52 in front of a full house at John A. Bragoli Memorial Gymnasium.

Allaire finished with 17 points, but after scoring the first four times he touched the ball, it looked as if he’d finish with 50. But the big guy picked up his second foul in the first quarter and Medomak coach Nick DePatsy’s gamble to bring him back in the game in the second quarter backfired as he picked up his third.

“He’s a senior and he had two fouls and the third one was (iffy) but he did it and I got him out of there,” DePatsy said. “Then in the second half, I told him we need you on the floor and you’ve got to play smarter.”

The Tigers led 16-15 at the end of the first quarter thanks to a long 3-pointer at the buzzer from Hunter Chasse (12 points). Gardiner took advantage of Allaire’s absence after he picked up his third foul early in the second quarter and went on an 11-2 run that began with a 3 from Chasse and featured five points from Isaiah Magee (12).

A three-point play by Medomak’s Johnathon Luce at the buzzer cut Gardiner’s halftime lead to 32-27.

Allaire scored nine points in the third quarter to give the Panthers a 41-34 lead. The Tigers struggled from the floor but were also hurt by 25 turnovers, quite a few of those unforced.

“Turnovers hurt us a lot,” Gardiner coach Jason Cassidy said. “We had some momentum and right before the half we let them climb back in.”

Allaire picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter and fouled out with 6:06 left to play.

“It was definitely a little worrisome for me,” Gee said. “Most of our offense goes through him. If they double down on him, he kicks it out. It was a little nerve racking but it was nice I just got to step up for the team and hit my foul shots and get to the rim.”

Gee finished with a game-high 18 points, with 11 of those in the fourth quarter on a pair of driving layups and seven free throws. Donlin finished with 11 points, most on driving layups.

“I think we can make it pretty far in the tournament,” Gee said. “We’ve all been playing together since sophomore year.”

The Tigers played without rugged 6-4 junior Ben Shaw, who is still recovering from a separated shoulder suffered in a preseason game. They could have used him to lean on Allaire but held their own on the backboards thanks to Cole Heaberlin (nine points, seven rebounds) and Connor McGuire.

“Defensively we’re not the same team without Ben Shaw in there,” Cassidy said.


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