Western C boys’ prelim: Seagulls smother Saints, 58-41

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OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Through the first two-and-a-half quarters of their Western C prelim, St. Dom’s and Old Orchard Beach seemed destined for a fantastic finish.

Then OOB  guard Joey Gildard almost singlehandedly took the drama out of the contest.

Gildard was a terror on both ends of the floor, scoring 16 of his game-high and career-high 22 points in the second half and swiping eight steals to help sixth-seeded Old Orchard Beach pull away from No. 11 St. Dom’s, 58-41.

Old Orchard Beach (11-7) will face No. 3 Boothbay in the quarterfinals Monday at the Augusta Civic Center. St. Dom’s finishes its season at 8-11.

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Joe Bryant had 12 points to pace the Saints, followed by Tom Applegate with 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Gildard sparked a 20-2 run spanning starting late in the third quarter that lifted the Seagulls from one point down in a see-saw contest to complete command. Defending the perimeter and passing lanes with outstanding quickness, the sophomore literally had a hand in many of the Saints’ 27 turnovers.

“I was just putting my hand out and stopping (the passes),” he said. “On defense, I could see they were getting a little rattled.”

Gildard scored 12 of the Seagulls’ 14 points in the third quarter, including the bucket that put them in the lead for good at 30-29.

Plagued by turnovers much of the night, the Saints started piling them up against OOB’s full-court press. Cole Hamilton picked off a pass on the perimeter and coasted in for a layup. Gildard made another steal, then drilled the Seagulls’ first 3-pointer in 10 attempts with three seconds left in the third to give them their largest lead of the night to that point, 35-29.

“He’s got extreme quickness,” OOB coach John Regan said of the 5-foot-9 Gildard. “He can shoot it. I thought he did a great job of breaking down the defense and making them play him.”

Back-to-back jumpers by Gildard to start the fourth inflated the lead to 10. Ian McCracken’s short baseline jumper for the Saints temporarily made it a single-digit deficit again, but Quincy Grace (16 points) scored inside and Mike Rague converted a steal into a layup to start an 11-0 OOB run that put the game away.

“Everything that could go wrong in that stretch just went wrong,” St. Dom’s coach Ryan Deschenes said. “They put some great pressure on. We found the holes at times, and other times we didn’t. In this setting, you really need to use your heads. Unfortunately, we had a stretch where we didn’t and they took advantage of it.”

“We feed off of our pressure and turnovers,”  Regan said. “We were able to get some layups and the kids just get into it when that happens.”

It was a game of short momentum bursts up to that point. St. Dom’s jumped out to a 12-6 lead, only to see OOB go on a 9-0 run to take a five-point advantage.

The Saints closed the first half with an 11-2 run, capped by a Zak Johnson 3-pointer that gave them a 25-21 halftime lead.

Gildard scored the first seven points of the second half to shift the lead again. St. Dom’s missed its first five shots and didn’t score through the first 4:35 of the half yet was still able to reclaim the lead when Andrew Gosselin made a foul-line jumper and Bryant sank a baseline turnaround.

That gave the Saints their last lead of the game. Nine turnovers in the quarter ultimately shifted the momentum OOB’s way for good.

“Every single game, we left it on the floor,” Deschenes said. “I thought we did that tonight. Did we play a great game? No. OOB outplayed us tonight. But we left everything on the floor. These guys really showed their character all season long and they should be proud of that.”

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