BANGOR — In what has been a loaded Class B North field all season long, the road to a regional championship has seemed to be almost anybody’s game. That, paired with the state tournament’s tendency to produce the unexpected, means some of the state’s best teams can see their seasons ends in the blink of an eye.
The Mount Desert Island High School girls’ No. 3 Trojans team fell in a season-ending defeat Friday with a 55-34 loss to sixth-seeded Winslow in the opening game of the state tournament. The result marked an unfortunate end to the season for an MDI team that had five straight wins entering the playoffs.
“We lost to a good basketball team that outplayed us, plain and simple,” MDI Head Coach Brent Barker said. “They were able to make those big shots early and put us on our heels.”
Winslow stifled MDI’s offense to start the game and capitalized on three early fouls by the Trojans to take a 5-0 lead at the 5:22 mark. Emily Banks scored the first points of the game for MDI on a pair of free throws before Maddy Candage finished off the glass to pull the Trojans within a point, 5-4.
The Black Raiders were quick to turn the game back in their favor. Winslow (14-5) went on to score 12 of the next 14 points to stretch the lead to 17-6 and continued to dominate the Trojans on both ends of the floor to take a 35-12 lead into halftime.
The offensive performance from MDI improved in the second half, but the Black Raiders’ 3-point prowess, quickness and defensive pressure allowed them to maintain their lead.
The Trojans continued to fight on both ends of the floor until the final buzzer brought their 2017-18 season to a close. “Even when it got tough, I loved the energy we had and the fight we brought,” Barker said. “They never gave up and stayed in it the whole way.”
Maddy Candage’s nine points and seven rebounds led MDI in both categories. Julia Watras and Alexis Clarito scored five points apiece for the Trojans.
Although MDI (14-5) struggled to make shots early in the game, it was the giveaways that proved to be the deciding factor. The Trojans had 13 turnovers in the first half alone, and Winslow’s ability to capitalize on those mistakes resulted in the Trojans’ second-largest margin of defeat this season.
“When they went up 10-15 points, I think we started to chase the game a little bit,” Barker said. “They were defending well and forced us into making some mistakes on offense, especially late in the first quarter and all through the second quarter.”
Despite the loss, MDI is in the position to make another run next season. The Trojans return four of five starters from this year’s team in 2018-19 and will be expected to remain at the top of a loaded field in Class B North.
On Friday night, that didn’t seem like much consolation to an MDI team whose season ended in the regional quarterfinals for the fourth year in a row. Yet for a young squad that continued the program’s run of success in recent years, there will be plenty of reason for optimism when the Trojans lace up their sneakers once again next winter.
“It hurts to lose like this, definitely, but it was still an excellent season for us from start to finish,” Barker said. “At the beginning of the year, we said we wanted an opportunity to get to the Cross Insurance Center and see what we could do, and that’s what we did. I’m very proud of these kids and what they accomplished.”