NEWPORT, Maine — There admittedly has been a streaky side to the Nokomis boys basketball team’s on-court product so far this season.
“At times it’s frustrating,” said Warriors’ junior forward Andrew Cartwright. “We can shoot the lights out one day and we can be terrible the next, really.”
But one primary source of stability throughout the first half of the regular season has been senior guard Spencer Hartsgrove, who scored a game-high 28 points Tuesday night as Nokomis held off Gardiner 63-56 in a Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B matchup.
Hartsgrove scored 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting as the Warriors built a 33-22 halftime lead, then made 5 of 6 free-throw attempts during the final 90 seconds of the game to help Nokomis secure the victory.
“Spencer’s a kid who’s played for four years and he’s made some big shots for us,” said Nokomis coach Carl Parker. “Now he’s had to take that step up where he is the guy. He hasn’t really grabbed the role all the time, but there are times in games when he really does, and when he’s aggressive to the basket he’s a tough guy to guard because you have to guard him on the perimeter and that allows him to get to the rim when he’s willing to put the ball on the floor. He can do a lot of things.”
Nokomis ends the first half of its schedule with a 5-4 record and in the thick of the Eastern Maine Class B playoff race.
“We played better for longer minutes than we have been but at times we were ragged, to be honest,” said Parker. “That’s the nature of us right now. We still haven’t got a true identity, but the identity I think we have is that we have to have Spencer and Andrew score more than 30 and then we have a chance.”
Gardiner fell to 3-5 after suffering its fourth consecutive loss, but all of the Tigers’ games have been decided by 10 points or less.
“This is a good win for us to be able to pull away from them in the standings,” said Cartwright. “Hopefully they’ll get some more wins and we’ll get some (Heal) points from them.”
Nokomis took the lead for good at 13-11 on the first of Hartsgrove’s three 3-pointers of the night late in the first quarter.
That was part of a 10-0 Nokomis run that gave the Warriors an 18-11 lead at the end of the period.
Nokomis maintained its 11-point halftime lead as Hartsgrove scored nine points during the second quarter to go with six points by Cartwright after returning from a lengthy respite on the Warriors bench.
“I made a bad play and coach got on me about it,” said Cartwright. “I just had to get over it and work hard the rest of the game.”
But Gardiner refused to go away, using a 14-2 run to pull within 39-38 on a 3-pointer by Tyler Jamison with 2:56 left in the third quarter.
Nokomis then outscored Gardiner 8-2, with Cartwright contributing two free throws and a 3-pointer off an assist from sophomore Noah Kershner with 11 seconds remaining in the quarter as the Warriors took a 47-40 lead into the final period.
Gardiner hung within 54-48 when McFarland bounced off a defender to score from the lane with 4:39 left in the game, but baskets by Devan Haas, Hartsgrove and Cartwright fueled a seven-point run that restored Nokomis to a 61-48 cushion with 1:10 remaining.
Cartwright finished with 13 points and eight rebounds for the Warriors, while senior center Chandler Foss had six blocked shots and six rebounds.
Jamison led Gardiner with 15 points and eight rebounds, while McFarland came off the bench to add 14 points and eight rebounds.