Erik Merchant of the Mount Desert Island High School basketball team goes for a hook shot Friday in a home game against rival Ellsworth. PHOTO COURTESY OF BARRY GUTRADT

Defense leads boys past Ellsworth

BAR HARBOR — In what coach Justin Norwood called the team’s best defensive effort to date this season, the Mount Desert Island High School varsity boys’ basketball team defeated Ellsworth Friday 58-38.

“We wanted this,” senior Eli Parady said. “In [last week’s] game against Oceanside, we were winning the entire first half, but we let it get away. We wanted to show up and remind ourselves and our fans we’re better than that.”

“Against a team like Ellsworth that can score a lot of points, you want to set the tone and not let them dictate the game,” Norwood said. “I felt we did a pretty good job of that all game long.”

Both teams got off to hot starts with Drew Shea scoring three early baskets for MDI and Ellsworth’s Devin Grindle and Austin Harris hitting 3-pointers. Yet MDI held a 14-8 lead after the first quarter of play and extended that to 30-14 at halftime with seven second-quarter points from Derek Collin.

After the break, though, freshman Hunter Curtis scored eight points to spark a monster third quarter for Ellsworth, which scored 20 as a team to cut the Trojans’ lead to as few as five points. Down eight entering the fourth quarter, the game was still in reach for an Ellsworth team that was hoping to capitalize on its offensive momentum.

Instead, MDI produced a defensive master class in the final eight minutes, during which the Eagles scored just four points. Offensively, Parady scored eight points in the fourth quarter for the Trojans as the home team regained its double-digit lead to cruise to its fifth straight win over the Eagles.

“After the third quarter, Coach kind of sat us down and got our heads back in the game,” Parady said. “He just said, ‘Guys, you’ve got to show how bad you want this, finish strong on defense and put it away.’ That really motivated us and fired us up, and we came out on fire.”

Collin led MDI with a game-high 15 points, and Parady was the team’s No. 2 scorer with 12. The Trojans’ other scorers were Brett Duley with nine points, Shea with eight, Steven Pierce with seven, Kyle Nicholson with three and Porter Isaacs with two.

Hunter Curtis scored a team-high 10 points for Ellsworth, which got nine from Jackson Curtis, seven from Austin Harris, six from Devin Grindle and three apiece from Darby Barry and Connor Crawford. Holding Jackson Curtis, the Big East Conference’s No. 2 scorer, to single digits was a major factor in MDI’s win.

“Jackson is an All-Conference player, and he has a good skill set that’s not easy to stop,” Norwood said. “We felt we would have a really good chance if we could just contain him to a certain degree and play good defense on their other scorers, and that’s exactly what happened.”

MDI, which improved to 8-2 on Tuesday with a 63-51 win over Orono (6-5) will join Ellsworth in The County for its own contests against Caribou and Presque Isle. First, the Trojans will do battle with unbeaten Hermon at 7 p.m. Friday and an Old Town team that gave the Trojans a scare in last month’s season opener Monday, Jan. 21.

“There are no nights off in this conference, and that’s especially true this time of year,” Norwood said. “Whether you’re first or 16th, you can beat anyone and lose to anyone. Everybody’s fighting for those points in the standings, and you have to be prepared every game.”

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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