MOUNT DESERT — Busy streets, packed gymnasiums and a huge influx of visitors to all corners of Mount Desert Island over the weekend could only mean one thing: Great Harbor Shootout weekend was here.
This year’s tournament brought teams from throughout the state to Mount Desert Elementary School, the MDI YMCA, MDI High School, Pemetic Elementary School, Trenton Elementary School and Ellsworth Elementary-Middle School. With players, parents and coaches from more than 83 schools and communities present, the Harbor House-organized tournament made the island Maine’s basketball capital for the weekend.
“I would say it was about 3,000 or 4,000 people,” said Diana Novella, events and community relationships director for Harbor House. “It’s always a big weekend economically for both MDI and Ellsworth.”
This year’s tournament was a successful one locally with the MDI girls’ team beating Lawrence in the high school championship game and the high school boys’ team finishing runner-up to Hermon.
On the boys’ side, MDI Varsity opened with a win against Winslow in the Mount Desert Elementary gym before edging Mount View 40-37 and GSA 57-51. Although MDI lost 47-46 to Dexter in its next contest, the team battled all the way back to the championship game, where it fell 63-61 against the Hawks.
The MDI girls gave the island a win in the high school competition with a 54-44 win over Lawrence in Sunday’s championship game at Pemetic Elementary School. Among the Trojans’ other wins en route to the title were a 47-34 win over GSA, a 41-18 win over Caribou, a 45-41 win over Deer Isle-Stonington and a 53-49 win over Calais.
Elena Alderman, Leah Carroll, Emily Carter, Cassie Craig, Olivia Gray, Elizabeth Jones, Lexi Rich and Rachelle Swanson formed the title-winning MDI girls’ team in the high school division. Alderman had a team-high 15 points in the championship game for the Trojans, who were coached by Mike and Peter Swanson.
In the junior high boys’ division, Skowhegan edged Ellsworth’s Down East Family YMCA 60-56 to take the title. Bangor won the junior high girls’ title with a 51-24 triumph over Southern Aroostook.
Boys’ high school team members were Nick Corson, Jack DaCorte, Porter Isaacs, Maddox Laurendeau, Cadin Lunt, Ethan Merchant, Charlie Parker, Nate Philbrook, Steven Pierce and Brady Renault. Pierce led the Trojans with 17 points in the championship game.
Games such as Bangor’s contest against Southern Aroostook pitted a Class AA school with a listed enrollment of 1,129 students against a Class D school with 100. Those types of encounters are important in the Great Harbor Shootout, which allows teams from all over the state to play opponents of different class sizes.
“We try to create matchups that don’t normally happen,” Novella said.
Some of the games, such as the MDI boys’ showdown with GSA, were played in front of standing-room only crowds. With outgoing seniors not eligible to play, fans are always eager for early looks at how next year’s varsity players will stack up against the competition.
“A big part of the plan is just to get teams together after the high school season with a new look and keep that basketball enthusiasm going,” Novella said. “It’s always great when everyone comes together and gives us a chance to see that.”