SKOWHEGAN — When the Skowhegan girls basketball team needed a big shot against Gardiner on Friday night, Annie Cooke took it. When the Indians needed a big rebound, Cooke grabbed it.

The junior had a career-best game, with 35 points and 20 boards, leading Skowhegan to a 60-54 win.

“We knew we needed to get the ball to her in the low post,” Skowhegan coach Mike LeBlanc said. “She took us on her shoulders and just carried us.”

Cooke scored 22 of her points in the second half as Skowhegan held off a Gardiner rally. Down nine points late in the third quarter, the Tigers fought back and took a brief 43-42 lead on a Logan Granholm 3-pointer with just under six minutes to play. A Lindsey Warren layup gave the Indians the lead back for good, and Cooke scored 10 points down the stretch, before fouling out with 1:11 left, to help clinch the win.

“I felt like we weren’t playing very good, and we needed to pick it up and get as many points as possible in a short time,” Cooke said.

“She’s a tough matchup, especially where we had some foul trouble,” Gardiner coach Mike Gray added. “When they needed her down the stretch, she stepped up. She’s quicker than my bigs and bigger than my guards. To me, that was the difference down the stretch.”

The Tigers scored the first seven points of the game, before Skowhegan went on a 9-0 run to take the lead. Skowhegan led 23-19 at the half and 36-27 after six straight Cooke points in the third.

Gardiner cut the deficit to two, 40-38, with Jaycie Stevens buzzer-beating three to end the quarter. It was Stevens’ second buzzer-beater of the game, after making one to close the half. Stevens led Gardiner with 10 points.

Skowhegan’s defensive pressure helped force 20 Gardiner turnovers, and the Indians were able to overcome 24 turnovers of their own.

Cooke’s effort aside, Gray said he was proud of the way his team competed for 32 minutes.

“Our focus was there from the beginning. We played hard. We weren’t phased by the score. We just said “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go,” Gray said.

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