GARDINER — Call it the triple crown of costly.
Leavitt lost out on chances to solidify a spot in the KVAC championship and punch its ticket out of the Western Class B preliminary round Saturday afternoon with a 57-51 loss to Gardiner at Bragoli Gym.
Of greater immediate and long-term concern, however, is the health of senior Kristen Anderson.
The University of New Hampshire-bound guard re-injured her left ankle, landing awkwardly on the floor as she fouled out with 22.4 seconds remaining. Anderson sat out much of January with a severe sprain and ligament and tendon damage in the same joint.
Anderson's mother and coach, Tammy, said immediately after the game that Kristen's high school career is "probably done."
"We got built up enough strength so she could probably play. Kristen didn't want to let her team down," Tammy Anderson said. "Kristen is a competitive kid. Probably UNH and everybody else would have rather seen her sit out, but she wants to play with her high school kids and finish. So we take chances and it turns around and bites you at the end."
Even on a cold-shooting day, Anderson departed with 26 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocked shots.
She scored nine consecutive points for the Hornets in the fourth quarter, turning a 41-39 deficit into a 48-47 lead with under two minutes to play.
Kylee Granholm's drive to the hoop retrieved the lead for good and triggered an 8-0 run that sealed the win for Gardiner (12-4).
The Tigers avenged a 71-44 loss in Turner almost two months ago.
"We went out there and we felt like at the beginning of the season that they weren't 27 points better than us, but that night they were perfect," Gardiner coach Mike Gray said. "I feel that we've been playing better lately, and this showed it. The girls have been playing with confidence.
Junior Ally Day led Gardiner with 17 points and a staggering 25 rebounds. Granholm had eight of her 13 points in the fourth quarter.
Taylor Banister added 12 points and did a stellar job shadowing Anderson, particularly in the first half, holding her to two field goals and nine points.
"It's all about defense. Normally we want to hold teams to 40," Gray said. "I said if they score 50, we will win. Our offense is good enough. I can't say enough about the defensive effort. We stepped up when we needed to, and kids hit free throws."
Banister and Granholm combined to swish six straight from the line in the final 38 seconds.
Leavitt (13-3) shot 18-for-66 (27 percent) from the field.
"They're a good team. They've been up and down all season. I'm sure they love to beat Leavitt and we knew we were coming into that environment," Tammy Anderson said. "I thought we had some great looks at the basket. They just didn't fall, and that's part of the game. I don't think we would have done much differently if we played them again tomorrow, if we had Kristen."
Mariah Treadwell chipped in nine points for Leavitt, which led 13-10 after the first quarter before falling into a 25-22 deficit at the half.
The game was tied three times in the third period. That stretch was highlighted by a nine-point Anderson flurry in a span of just under three minutes.
Two late baskets by Treadwell made it a 39-32 Hornets advantage with eight minutes to go. But Day erupted for seven points in the first three minutes of the fourth period, all on offensive putbacks, to put Gardiner in front.
"That was an incredible number of rebounds for a girl her size," Gray said of Day.
Leavitt also lost Meagan Dow to fouls in the fourth quarter.
The Hornets needed a win to stay in front of Nokomis in the KVAC race and improve their hopes of staying in the top four in Western B.
"We know how to play in the tourney. Leavitt's been there a few times," Tammy Anderson said. "We'll see what we're up against with Kristen, get an x-ray on it and then we'll play with what we have. That's what everyone else has to do. Things happen and you've just got to roll with adversity."