BAR HARBOR — No matter the sport, teams all over the world are taught to play until the final seconds tick off the clock. In its regular season finale this year, the Mount Desert Island High School junior varsity boys’ basketball team showed why.
On Feb. 7, MDI and Ellsworth took to the floor at Ellsworth in a battle of two of the state’s top JV boys’ programs. In the fourth quarter, the Trojans found themselves down by double digits against an Ellsworth squad few teams this season have been able to beat.
Trailing by 22 points with 5 minutes, 30 seconds left in the fourth quarter, though, MDI began to shrink the deficit. Little by little, the Trojans began to chip away, and when the buzzer sounded, coach Kyle McKim’s team walked off the floor as winners in front of a packed house. The final score was 53-48.
“It was just a great comeback by a great group of kids,” McKim said. “That Ellsworth team was the team we played all year, and we were playing in front of a wild crowd because the varsity game was about to start next. It was an all-around great experience for the kids.”
Win probability calculators give a team trailing by 22 with five and a half minutes left against an evenly matched opponent a 1-in-500 chance at victory. Yet as long as the clock wasn’t showing zeros, McKim and his players knew they still had a chance to pull out a victory.
“MDI basketball has a culture where you don’t ever think you’re out of a game,” McKim said. “We might have been down 22 or however many points, but there was still time. We just had to make one score at a time and make one stop a time. We did that, and all of the sudden, we were right back in it.”
MDI didn’t have very much time to celebrate the win, though, as the Trojans were set to participate in the Scott Jellison Memorial Tournament two days later at Sumner Memorial High School and Mountain View School in Sullivan.
With the winner of that tournament needing to play three games in a single day to claim the title, McKim’s team had to move on quickly.
MDI began the tournament with wins over Washington Academy and Orono to claim a spot in the championship game. Facing Narraguagus for the tournament title, the Trojans crushed the Knights 59-29 to conclude the season with a 17-4 record.
“We had to turn it around quickly [after the Ellsworth game] and get back to work,” McKim said. “We had one practice the day in between, and we knew we’d have to bring our A-game again because there were a lot of good teams there. The kids played hard and won all three times.”
The season marked another successful one for the MDI JV boys’ program, which has produced some stellar records over the past few years. The Trojans went 17-3 last year after posting an 18-0 record in 2016-17.
“Year in and year out, we just always have really terrific groups of kids,” McKim said. “What struck me about this year’s team was the players wanted themselves to succeed even more than we wanted to see them succeed as coaches. That’s not something you necessarily get in a lot of places, and we’re lucky as a team and as a program to have kids with that mentality.”
Players on this year’s MDI JV boys’ team were Ethan Merchant, Brady Renault, Hunter Gray, Dylan Robertson, Grady Wellman-Webster, Nick Corson, Nate Philbrook, Jack DaCorte, Marshall Reiff, Maddox Laurendeau and Jacob Peabody. Team manager was Ashton Lozano.