OLD TOWN — The Mount Desert Island High School varsity girls’ basketball team defeated the Old Town coyotes 61-47 in their season opener Friday.
Coach Brent Barker knew his team would be facing a different version of a longtime adversary in this game. From the opening tip, his intuition was proven right.
In past years, MDI’s victories over Old Town have been decisive. The Trojans had beaten the Coyotes 11 straight times entering Friday, a span that included 41-, 35-, 31-, 40- and 47-point victories.
This time, though, Old Town was coming into the game with all but one player returning from 2016-17. The result was a game that was closer than the teams’ previous encounters but in which the visitors showed the resilience expected of a contender.
The MDI girls used an early second-half run to build a comfortable lead over Old Town and never looked back. The victory marked the ninth consecutive season-opening win for the Trojans, who now enter the thick of a busy December schedule.
“We knew were going to have to scrap in order to win and that Old Town was going to pressure us,” Barker said. “They came out and made us work hard for it, but once we got hot in that second half, we kept going.”
MDI started the game with an 8-1 run before Old Town scored 11 of the next 14 points to pull ahead. Yet the Trojans (1-0) took the lead on the last shot of the first quarter when Hannah Chamberlain hit a 3-pointer from near the half-court line to the sound of both fan bases exclaiming “ooh” and “ahh.”
Old Town (0-1) hung with the Trojans for much of the second quarter but couldn’t take the lead. MDI capitalized with under a minute left when Chamberlain made yet another 3-pointer that gave the visitors a 29-23 lead heading into halftime.
In the second half, MDI began to take control of the game more firmly. Led by Julia Watras and Maddy Good, the Trojans went on an 8-0 run in the opening minutes after the break and prevented Old Town from scoring, to build a comfortable lead.
“We had our good moments, and we had our bad moments,” senior Emily Banks said. “We really worked well together to pull it off.”
The Coyotes threatened at times in the fourth quarter, in which they pulled to within 10 points on two occasions. Yet the home team’s comeback hopes were derailed when Chamberlain did it again: a 3-pointer in the final two minutes to give MDI a 58-42 lead.
“Every three she hit came at a big moment for us when we needed it,” Barker said. “As a team, we needed some of the players who didn’t get as many minutes for us last year to step up and be productive right from the get-go, and I think those players did that.”
Despite being pleased with the win overall, Barker expressed concern over the team’s free-throw shooting. MDI worked on free-throw shooting in the week leading up to the game, but the Trojans missed half of the 26 shots they attempted from the line.
“I’m not too happy about that,” Barker said. “You can’t leave points out there like that.”
MDI was scheduled to face Foxcroft Academy (0-1) at home Wednesday. The team is set to host Oceanside on Saturday, Dec. 16, at 3:30 p.m., before finishing a three-game home stand against Washington Academy on Monday, Dec. 18, at 7 p.m.
“Looking at our schedule, we play eight of our 18 games this month,” Barker said. “It’s going to come quickly for us, and we’ll have to be ready for that just like we were tonight.”