GARDINER — It was, as advertised, a slugfest between two of the top teams in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference.

And in the end, 6-foot-4 Gardiner senior Lizzy Gruber was simply too much for Lawrence.

Gruber finished with 19 points, 19 rebounds and six blocks as the Tigers held off the Bulldogs 41-37 on Wednesday night. Bulldog senior guard Hope Bouchard finished with a 19-point night of her own, but a seven-point deficit with under seven minutes remaining proved too much for the visitors to chase down.

“Hope and I have a great relationship. I think all of the top athletes in Maine do,” Gruber said. “At the end of the day, you come in and you prove yourself against each other. We come in, we both know we’re going to be there. We know what both of us are capable of. 

“We both have to score for our teams, we both have jobs to do. It’s really about who has the top priority for the game — if you can keep your teammates in the loop, as well, then you’ll come out on top.”

The teams were tied 20-20 at halftime, but Lawrence (1-1) went ice cold from the floor in the third quarter as Gardiner (2-0) started to find a rhythm.


With scoring contributions from four players, the Tigers grabbed a 29-22 lead. While the home team was finding its second-half footing, the Bulldogs made only one of 14 field goal attempts in the period.

“I think we got a little jittery,” Bouchard said. “We had some bad turnovers, some bad passes, some bad shots. This was a big game for us, so we were going to have the jitters. It’s just a matter of being able to get back into a game after a break and control that.”

As Bouchard found her touch with nine of her 19 in the fourth, Gruber asserted herself.

Lawrence’s Liz Crommett, middle, shoots while double teamed by Gardiner’s Savannah Brown, left, and Lizzy Gruber during a girls basketball game Wednesday in Gardiner. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Gruber scored eight in the final quarter, including a putback and a pair of foul shots with 18.9 seconds remaining and Lawrence having closed the gap to two at 39-37.

“It felt at times like it was Hope and Lizzy just swinging and throwing punches back and forth,” Gardiner coach Mike Gray said. “We’re going to get in games like that. I was happy that we kept our composure when they made their run. That’s where experience paid off. That’s where having all these juniors and seniors really pays off.”

In a gritty opening 16 minutes, the teams combined to shoot just 29.6 percent (16 of 54) from the field and ended up dead even at the break.


Lawrence owned the rebounding edge in the opening half 20-15, including a 7-6 advantage on the offensive glass, though it could not capitalize.

It was as much the inability to find a rhythm so early in the season as it was the defensive pressure being applied on both sides of the ball.

Gardiner’s Lizzy Gruber, left, shoots as Lawrence sophomore forward Taryn Nichols defends during a basketball game Wednesday December 14, 2022 in the James A. Bragoli Memorial Gym at Gardiner Area High School. (Staff photo by Joe Phelan/Staff Photographer) Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“It’s a little bit of both, but it’s mostly a product of these two teams that are going to pride themselves on playing defense,” Gray said.

Lawrence coach Greg Chesley agreed

“I think we’re pretty evenly matched. I think it’s more a product of the way these two teams play basketball,” Chesley said. “It was streaky, but it was also pretty physical both ways. Our guards and their guards are pretty tough kids. They don’t allow any easy open looks, and when you miss a few you get a little tense and the next one’s harder to fall.”

For Gardiner, Taylor Takatsu added six points, including four key fourth-quarter free throws. Emilee Brown and Megan Gallagher each chipped in with five points.

Lawrence’s Brianna Poulin scored six in the loss, with Nadia Morrison adding four. Morrison also pulled down nine rebounds to try and offset Gruber’s paint presence.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.