GARDINER — Bailey Poore was already having a productive night. But the sophomore forward saved her best plays for late — as did the rest of the Gardiner girls basketball team.

Poore had a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds, and the Tigers held off a rallying Leavitt team in a 44-39 victory Tuesday night.

“I think this win was really great for this team,” Poore said. “(Leavitt) was really good and aggressive. … I think we did really well as a whole. We all worked together.”

Gardiner’s lead peaked at 32-18 with just over five minutes left in the third, but the Tigers began to lose the battle on the boards, allowing the Hornets (0-2) to chip away and cut the deficit to 32-27 going into the fourth.

“We had that stretch where we didn’t box out, and that’s when it went from an 11-point game to a five-point game all of a sudden,” coach Mike Gray said. “It was mostly on second-half points.”

Leavitt got to within three at 35-32 on a 3-pointer by Alison Noniewicz (16 points) with 6:42 to play, but Gardiner didn’t let the game slip away any further. After an Aimee Adams free throw, Leavitt began to press, but Poore broke it with a perfect pass down the court to a wide-open Anna Toman (seven points) for a layup and a 38-32 lead. Poore then rebounded a missed Leavitt free throw, and followed with a putback on the other end to put the Tigers ahead 40-33 with 3:48 to go.

“Bailey just keeps getting better,” Gray said. “She plays so hard and she does so much on both ends.”

Gardiner’s Michaela Gardner, right, dribbles around Leavitt’s Emelia Bowie on Tuesday in Gardiner. Staff photo by Andy Molloy

Poore had a pair of free throws to push the lead to 42-36 with 1:32 left. Leavitt scored on a Noniewicz basket to cut the gap to four, but another Toman basket — again on the press break — made it 44-38 with 34 seconds left and iced the win.

“It was a little bit of everybody,” Gray said. “I thought when they stepped up the pressure, we did a nice job breaking it. … The last four minutes, I thought we did a much better job on the boards. That group just stayed composed down the stretch.”

Gray wasn’t downplaying the value of either the win or the strong start to the season.

“Talking to these kids, the thing you hate to do is get to the end of the season and say ‘Jeez, we had that game. We could have had that one,'” said Gray, whose team also got 10 rebounds from Adams and eight from Jaycie Stevens. “This would have been one of those games. … Confidence-wise, it’s huge.”

Leavitt let a fast start go to waste, as the Hornets took a 12-4 lead in the first quarter before the Tigers scored 25 of the next 31 points. Leavitt got 15 rebounds and eight points from Taylor White, while Noniewicz added five rebounds, Kayleigh Gilbert had nine points and five rebounds and Emma Chaisson had seven boards.

Gardiner Area High School’s’s Maggie Bell, center, gets sandwiched between Leavit’s Emma Chiasson, right, and Alison Nonewicz on Tuesday in Gardiner. Staff photo by Andy Molloy

“We came out really good in the first quarter, we played tough, we got some traps,” coach David Gerrish said. “I think we got a little soft in the second and third quarters, we couldn’t really get any traps going. … Our kids are young, they’re freshmen and sophomores mostly. We just need time for them to grow into what they’re trying to do.”

Noniewicz said the middle quarters could be a lesson for the team going forward.

“I think if we play like we did at the end, we’ll have better chances,” she said. “We got ahead and we started thinking ‘Oh, this is like an easy win.’ We kind of took the pressure off a little bit.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter:@dbonifantMTM

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