BAR HARBOR — For Justin Norwood, coaching boys’ basketball at Mount Desert Island High School for more than a decade hasn’t made the big games any easier.
Sure, the MDI head coach of 11 seasons has won his fair share of contests against Maine’s top teams since he first took over, but few of those contests have come without him being one of the most nervous people in the building. During the buildup to the Trojans’ Senior Night game against Ellsworth on Thursday, Norwood would have been the first to admit just that.
“I was pretty nervous all day,” Norwood said. “I get pretty worked up about certain games, and they [Ellsworth] were a good team coming in here.”
Entering the game at 11-6, the Eagles certainly presented one of the toughest tests for an MDI team that remains among Class B North’s elite. Yet although the Trojans’ head coach might have been nervous through the opening tip-off, it didn’t take long for his team to put him at ease.
MDI went on a 20-0 run in the first quarter Thursday en route to a resounding 65-35 win. The result saw the Trojans’ and Eagles’ regular seasons end on very different notes ahead of the upcoming Class B North tournament at the Cross Insurance Center.
The home team came firing right out of the gate to take a 6-0 lead inside the game’s first two minutes. With seven points from James McConomy and six from Derek Collin, MDI soon saw its lead grow to 8-0, 15-0 and 20-0 before Ellsworth finally stopped the bleeding with a basket from Dylan Taplin with 38 seconds left in the quarter.
“We just got on one of those spurts that I’ve talked about all year and kept it going,” Norwood said. “Every player on the team was feeding off one another, and it’s suddenly this big advantage.”
MDI stretched its lead to 37-11 at halftime and led by more than 30 for most of the second half. Ellsworth’s offense finally woke up in the fourth quarter, but the 15-point effort went in vain as the Trojans breezed to a Senior Night victory.
McConomy led MDI (15-3) in scoring with 17 points, and Collin was second with 16. The Trojans also got nine points from Owen Mild, who rejoined the team along with fellow senior Andrew Phelps for one last home game after both players missed multiple games for health reasons.
“I’ll remember playing at MDI because it was like a family,” Mild said. “We’ve had so many great times together on and off the court.”
The Ellsworth boys have now lost four in a row against MDI. The Eagles’ last win in the rivalry came when they beat the Trojans 62-59 on Feb. 4, 2016.
MDI, which received a bye as a result of clinching the No. 2 seed, is scheduled to face the winner of No. 7 Washington Academy (13-5) vs. No. 10 Maine Central Institute (9-9). That will be an early morning game, tipping off at 9:05 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 17.
“It’s an odd start time, but it is what it is,” Norwood said. “We’ve done it before, and we’ve also been up early for practices on Saturdays in the past. We’ll be there and be ready to go.”