GARDINER — Long, quick, lethal. It was a mix the Nokomis girls basketball team found impossible to deal with.

Gardiner won its fifth straight game to open the season Friday night, doing so in convincing fashion with a 64-48 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A victory over the Warriors. Six-foot-3 freshman Lizzie Gruber led the Tigers with 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks, the exclamation point on an evening where five Gardiner players contributed five or more points.

It was the most complete effort of the young season for Gardiner (5-0), according to head coach Mike Gray.

“I said I was waiting for us to put a complete game together, and we did,” Gray said. “I can’t ask for a lot more than what we saw tonight.”

The Tigers were dealt a scare early in the second quarter when Gruber limped off the court with an apparent ankle injury. She didn’t return to the lineup until the second half, but Gardiner barely skipped a beat. Kassidy Collins ended up with nine points to pick up some of the slack in the post, while guards Maddie Farnham and Jaycie Stevens added eight and five points, respectively.

“We have to play without Lizzie sometimes. We’ve talked about that,” said Collins, a junior. “If she gets in foul trouble or if she’s being shut down in the middle, because she’s obviously a big focal point for other teams. We just had to rally and focus on boxing out and keep rebounding without her on the floor. We just need to figure out other ways to get the ball inside and score without her being the big option for us.”

“Lizzie missed some minutes, and that meant everybody had to adjust to their roles,” Gray said. “They did a great job.”

Nokomis (3-2) never really got started.

The Warriors took a 3-0 lead on freshman Camryn King’s 3-pointer less than a minute into the contest, then went the next 8:35 without a field goal. In all, Nokomis turned the ball over 16 times in the first half and trailed 15-3 after one quarter and 28-15 at the break.

“Deer in the headlights,” Nokomis coach Michelle Paradis said of the rough start. “We’re 14-year-olds going against 18-year-olds, and a lot of it was effort. We were deer in the headlights and had no effort. It will be different.”

Bailey Poore scored all 11 of her points after halftime for Gardiner, including six in a row for the Tigers to open up a 41-21 lead. Gardiner extended its halftime lead by scoring 13 of the first 19 points of the third quarter.

“Sometimes it’s nice to have more than one thing,” Collins said. “We have a nice rounded lineup, which really helpful for our game.”

Brianna Townsend scored a game-high 19 points for Nokomis, all in the second half. King finished with 15. The pair combined for seven 3-pointers.


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