Boys fall to Hermon in Northern Maine final

BANGOR — The Mount Desert Island High School boys’ basketball team’s drive for a second consecutive Northern Maine basketball championship came up short this afternoon with a 51-38 loss to Hermon in the Class B North championship game. Yet even though the team couldn’t defend its title, coach Justin Norwood’s emotions defined the Trojans’ season more than a scoreboard ever could.

“It’s really hard to talk about them without getting emotional,” Norwood said. “It’s hard for words to do it justice in what they mean to me.”

The Trojans, which trailed by 22 points entering the fourth quarter, fought until the end to pull within single digits against the state’s No. 1 team before falling to defeat.

Although second-ranked MDI kept Hermon off the scoreboard the first two possessions, the Hawks’ defensive prowess kept the game scoreless through the opening two minutes. Baskets by Keenan Marseille and Jacob Godfrey then gave Hermon a 4-0 lead before the Trojans finally scored their first points of the game on a Drew Shea layup.

With the game tied 6-6 early in the second quarter, Hermon scored three straight baskets to take an eight-point lead. MDI responded with back-to-back 3-pointers from Derek Collin and James McConomy to cut the deficit to 14-12, but the Hawks scored 10 of the next 12 points to take a 24-14 lead into halftime.

“They’re just a good team,” Norwood said of Hermon (21-0). “They’re big and hard to attack around the rim, and their defense makes it hard to get penetration. It’s just a well-coached, good basketball team all around.”

Hermon stayed on the offensive in the second half with a Garrett Trask 3-pointer and a free throw from Godfrey to take a 28-14 lead. An MDI layup on the following possession cut the deficit to 12 points, but Hermon went on a 12-2 run to extend its lead to 22 points at the end of the third quarter.

The Trojans, though, kept Hermon off the scoreboard for the first few minutes of the fourth quarter to trim the deficit to 40-23. MDI would cut the Hawks’ lead to as few as nine points in the final two minutes with clutch 3-pointers from McConomy and Andrew Phelps.

“The fight they showed there at the end is what I’ve come to expect of them all season,” Norwood said. “Even being down as much as we were, they never stopped believing and powering through it.”

Phelps led MDI with 10 points, all of which came in the fourth quarter. McConomy added nine with a strong effort of his own late in the game, and Shea provided eight for an MDI team that concluded its season with a 17-4 record. The Trojans’ other scorers were Collin with five points, Owen Mild with four and Colby Lee with two.

Despite the loss, the 2017-18 season was certainly a success for the Trojans. After losing nine seniors from last year’s Gold Ball-winning team, the Trojans won eight of nine games to begin the season and entered the state tournament on a four-game winning streak before scoring a combined 151 points against Washington Academy and Presque Isle.

The Trojans will lose six seniors — McConomy, Phelps, Mild, Lee, Alden Fournier and Dane Vanzura — to graduation in June. The program will reload as it always does, but for Norwood and another member of his family, this particular group of players will be one they always remember.

“It’s tough for my daughter because she didn’t get to see them all week, and this meant a lot to her,” Norwood said. “They’re the type of people my kids look up to and the community looks up to. It’s hard to stress enough how much that means.”

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected]

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