Riley Swanson, left, and his grandfather Fred Swanson celebrate the Mount Desert Island High School’s Class B state basketball championship Friday in Augusta. Fred Swanson was a player on Bar Harbor High School’s 1955 state championship team. PHOTO COURTESY OF BARRY GUTRADT

Championship blood runs in MDI families

AUGUSTA — Mount Desert Island High School senior Jimmy Carroll and his grandfather Jim Carroll now have more in common than just their names.

As of Friday, March 3, Jimmy Carroll became the second member of his family to help bring home a Maine state basketball championship for his high school. The Trojans defeated Wells High School 59-39 at the Augusta Civic Center.

And the Carrolls are not the only family with a similar legacy. Also on Friday, as senior Riley Swanson helped propel the Trojans to victory, his grandfather Fred Swanson of Trenton, who played for Bar Harbor High School when it won a state title in 1955, watched proudly from the stands.

High schools in individual MDI towns closed in 1968 when the current combined school open.

Back on March 2, 1957, Jim Carroll won a gold ball for Pemetic High School nearly 60 years to the day prior to his grandson’s team victory.

The ’57 Pemetic Indians defeated the Old Orchard Beach High School Gulls 64-50 in the “medium” class at Colby College in Waterville. In those days, teams were broken down into small, medium and large classes.

“I remember [the state championship] very well,” said Jim Carroll. “We were playing in most important game in the world. Colby was playing West Point in hockey, and we played Old Orchard.”

That season, the Indians lost one game to Lubec High School. When they faced Bar Harbor High in the playoffs, Pemetic defeated them by just two points.

Jim Carroll said seeing his grandson shoot a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the game was exhilarating.

“I was very happy for him,” he said. “It was fun to watch him play, and it was a lot of fun to watch him win.”

Fred Swanson played on the 1955 Bar Harbor Sea Siders, who lost only two games in the regular season that year. They were the first team on the island to bring home a gold ball after defeating Paris High School (now Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School) 52-46 in the “medium” state championship.

Despite fierce competition between the three island high schools – Pemetic, Bar Harbor and Mount Desert, which won state championships in the 1960s, – the entire island celebrated the Sea Siders’ victory and island’s first championship that year.

Gerald Rich, president of the Pemetic student council at the time, wrote in the March 10, 1957, Bar Harbor Times: “The students of Pemetic would like to congratulate you on your recent award of State of Maine Basketball Champions. We were cheering for you all the way! We are hurt, of course, but very proud to have been beaten by the State Champs!”

Fred Swanson said after Friday night’s game that he was pleased with his grandson’s great season. “I am really happy for [Riley] and for the team,” he said.

Although 60-plus years have passed since Jim Carroll and Fred Swanson earned their gold balls, the thrill of victory feels exactly the same.

“I think the state championship is something very, very special,” Jim Carroll said. “I think basketball is just a big of deal today as it was in the ‘50s.”



Taylor Bigler Mace

Taylor Bigler Mace

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Taylor covers sports and maritimes for the Islander. As a native of Texas, she is an unapologetic Dallas Cowboys fan. [email protected]
Taylor Bigler Mace

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