Edward Little drops Gardiner

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GARDINER – Gardiner coach Pat McNally knows how teams will guard his star player, and his son, Sean. So he didn’t expect anything different when his team met Edward Little Tuesday night.

“They’d have one guy in front of him and one guy behind him and (Troy) Barnies on the side of him,” the Gardiner coach said. “Any team that plays us is going to put two or three guys on Sean and make somebody else beat them. And we haven’t been able to do that.”

And they probably won’t be able to do it much with all-conference caliber point guard Kyle Stilphen out of the lineup battling mononucleosis, an absence Edward Little took full advantage of to cruise to a 55-39 win.

Troy Barnies tallied 29 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots to pick up a season sweep over McNally, his future University of Maine teammate. The Eddies won on their home floor, 52-46, last month.

EL (7-0) fronted the 6-foot-8 McNally (21 points, seven rebounds) with 6-foot-4 Travis Barnies or backup Cam Leary, dropped someone down from the weak-side wing to play behind him, and kept 6-foot-7 Troy Barnies within a hop, skip or jump to triple-team the Gardiner star. With no one (i.e. Stilphen) to dribble, penetrate or stretch the defense by knocking down a few jumpers, the Tigers (2-5) had a hard time getting the ball into their big man.

“Our plan was to put Troy on him in the second half, but I think Cam and Travis did a good job on him defensively,” Adams said. “I think part of that, just like up at EL, was our guards did a really good job of dropping down and giving help. “

“If your guy’s on the wing, you’ve got to help with McNally,” said one of those guards, Kyle Philbrook, who played a solid all-around game (nine points, four assists, two steals). “You’ve got to get over on the backside. You’ve got to be touching his back. When he catches that ball, you’ve just got to stand straight up and hope he turns around into you.”

The Eddies also exploited Stilphen’s absence by playing a fullcourt trap. The strategy didn’t produce an overabundance of Gardiner turnovers (17), but it did help keep the Tigers from finding any offensive rhythm (30 percent shooting).

“We know that Stilphen’s their best guard, by far, so we had to get pressure on them and make them turn it over,” Philbrook said.

“Our pressure got to them a little bit, I think, especially in the first half,” Adams said.

EL’s pressure forced Gardiner to burn two time outs in the first quarter, while the Eddies had success getting Barnies going inside and outside for a 12-5 lead. The Eddies led by as many as 13 in the first half before the Tigers finally started finding McNally more consistently and closed to within nine at the half.

McNally found more room to work outside in the second half, and drilled a 3 midway through the third quarter to make it a six-point game. But the Eddies got a drive and a baseline jumper from Barnies, a jumper from Mukhtar Sharif and a putback from Leary as part of an 11-2 run to close the quarter with a comfortable 41-26 lead.

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