The Gardner Boys had been in Class A for years before moving to B several years ago. They had never even been in an Eastern maine Final let alone win an Eastern Maine Final
Well they did it the old fashion way they really earned it with hard work, desire and determination as they had to defeat bigger teams physically to win their first ever Championship in Basketball.
First, they had to deal with the 6th seeded and well-coached Nokomis Warriors who actually gave the Tigers their tough rest game taking them to overtime in the quarter-final round.
Then they had to beat arch rival Medomak Valley, a team that had defeated them twice in the regular season, and then they had to beat the undefeated MDI Trojans the top seed in the tournament with a 20-0 record going into the finals.
Well they did all three as they beat MDI 69-58. The Tigers took a 20-14 lst period lead, a 13 point 37-24 lead at half-time. kept the same lead at the end of the 3rd period 49-36.
They had a double figure lead much of the entire game until MDI rallied several times in the 4th quarter to cut the lead to 7 several times.
However, MDI had to foul and the Tigers made them pay at the foul line.
In the lst half the Tigers ran their Flex offense to almost perfection as they got several easy layups and open elbow jumpers from their continiuty offesnse. Meanwhile MDI was struggling a little offensively in their 1-3-1 high low set.
Jake Palmer who had 33 points against MV in the semi-finals led the way with 23 points and who should be the MVP of the Boys BTourney and Tolman added an important 17. MDI had 4 players in double figures. Gray had 17, Burke 15 and McDonald and Shaw each had 12.
The undersized Tigers played like “Big Tigers” as the battled the bigger MDI team on the boards throughout the game.
I would like to editorialize a little bit about how hard it is and the presure that a number one seeded team faces in a Tournament. First, the pressure on them is immense. Everyone expects them to win and if they don’t some people will ask “What Happened”? If they win some people will say “so what, you should have won, you had the best team”
The underdog team has nothing to lose and everything to gain. While not only does the undefeated and number one team lose a championship game they also lose an undefeated season.
Having been on all sides of this situaution as a coach of having been an undefeated team that won the whole thing, an undefeated team that lost in the finals and an low seeded team who beat an undefeated team in the finals, let me say this.
“THE AGONY OF DEFEAT” is far more painful, then the happiness of victory. We all have to remember that these are 15-16-17 and 18 year old players and unless you yourself have been in this undefeated and number 1 scenario you have no idea of the emotional feelings that go with losing.
However, this might be a communicable disease this year as the undefeated and number 1 seeded Western Maine B Falmouth lost to Yarmouth 54-50. So there are no undefeated teams left in the state.
The Gardner Tigers played like “BIG TIGERS” today as they had to battle the bigger MDI players on the boards, something they did in all three tourney games as they are not a big team physically, But, boy are they tough both mentally and physically. Even though they are Tigers, they played with the Hearts of LIONS all thru the tourney.
Congratutions to both teams: The Tigers for a job well done and to MDI as they took this very tough disappointing loss like gentlemen with excellent sportsmanship. They would be my choice for the Eastern B Boys Sportsmanship Award.
Good luck next week to Gardner as they face Yarmouth in the Class B Boys Finals. The Tigers have been purrrrrrrfect so far in post season play.