TURNER — Step one in everybody’s game plan to stop the Leavitt Area High School boys’ basketball team is easier said than done. It involves slowing down an explosive junior from a prominent local sports family.

The problem is, the Hornets now have two players fitting that description.

Keep Jordan Hersom to a dull roar, and Tim Dow is bound to beat you. Dow played the spoiler for the third straight game Friday night, fashioning a fourth quarter to remember in the Hornets’ 46-42 win over Gardiner.

Dow scored 10 of his 11 points in the final 4:41, beginning with two 3-pointers that led to a go-ahead inside bucket with 19 seconds remaining.

“It was a set play. We actually got it in to the person we didn’t want,” Dow said of the game-winner. “Then it was instinct. Lucas (Witham) found me, and I just laid it in.”

Leavitt (3-0) wanted to run a screen-and-roll for Hersom, filtered through Witham. Gardiner (2-1) had the play defended perfectly, forcing a high inbounds pass from Dow.

Hersom caught the ball and dumped it back to Witham, who ad-libbed when he saw Dow breaking free in the paint.

“Timmy is the in-bounder, and Tyler Allen sets a back screen for him on that play,” Leavitt coach Mike Hathaway said. “We said worst-case scenario we catch Timmy on the back cut, and we caught him.”

Gardiner had a chance to call a timeout and set up the potential game-tying shot. The Tigers worked the ball inside to Aaron Toman, whose hook from the right baseline rattled off the rim and into the hands of (who else?) Dow.

Dow, the grandson of retired Lewiston High School coach and athletic director Fern Masse, was fouled and hit both ends of a one-and-one to keep the Hornets unbeaten in the KVAC.

“He’s actually led our team in scoring this year. He had 12 and 15 in the first two games,” Hathaway said of Dow. “He’s shot well from the perimeter. He picked a good time to get it going.”

Each of Dow’s 3-pointers in the fourth quarter answered one at the other end by Gardiner’s Jake Palmer.

The Palmer baskets ended what was ultimately a destructive Gardiner cold snap. After leading 27-22 at halftime and 32-25 with 3:13 remaining in the third quarter, the Tigers were shut out for more than six minutes.

Leavitt held Gardiner to 2-for-11 from the field in the third period and 6-of-23 in the second half.

“We got in a situation where I think we were thinking so much about the defensive end and Hersom,” Gardiner coach Jason Cassidy said. “We were changing up our bigs quite a bit and got out of rhythm and went stagnant on offense for that long series. Then they made their run and started feeling it.”

Matt Janosco hit a 10-foot jumper for his only points of the night to start a surge of 11 unanswered points for Leavitt.

Tyler Allen swished a short jumper in the paint and an open 3-pointer by way of Witham to tie it. Witham’s put-back gave Leavitt a 34-32 lead to end the third quarter, its first advantage since late in the opening period.

“I really felt we executed defensively and rebounding, limiting them to one shot, and that opened up the offense,” Dow said.

Dow’s 3-pointers each established a four-point edge. Gardiner pulled even at 42 on hoops by Matt Hall and Mike Trahan.

“We came out last year and beat them by a couple. Then they beat us in overtime,” Cassidy said. “It looked like it was going to go that way again tonight. I think they’re one of the top teams in the league, so it’s reassuring to us.”

Hersom had 10 points and 15 rebounds and Allen added nine points and nine boards for Leavitt. Witham dished out six assists. Palmer paced Gardiner with 12 points.

Long notable for its football exploits, Leavitt its off to its best start in years on the hardwood.

“It feels good,” said Hathaway, who coaches both programs for the Hornets. “Gardiner is a quality team. Those guys are going to be one of the top three or four in the KVAC, no question.”

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