BAR HARBOR — Justin Norwood’s summer motto for the Mount Desert Island High School boys’ basketball team is simple: Get better.
Sure, tournament wins are great, and losses are never a desirable outcome in the world of sports. Yet that’s not what’s on Norwood’s mind this time of year as he prepares for his 12th season as the team’s head coach.
“We want to see those young players improving and some of the older guys turning into leaders,” Norwood said. “I think we try to establish that saying, ‘Get better,’ as our biggest mission during the summer. It’s that idea of getting back into it and continuing to build.”
Those goals were on display in Bar Harbor this past weekend in an eight-team round-robin tournament, a competition in which the Trojans’ 2-2 record didn’t tell the full story. MDI played solely against teams from bigger schools with three opponents coming from Class A and one hailing from Class AA.
“It was a very good weekend for us,” Norwood said. “It was great that we were able get teams from all over the state to come down here and play. It’s a positive experience for everybody to get these games in during the summer and see what’s working and where we need to improve.”
MDI opened the tournament against Skowhegan, the largest school in Class A North and the No. 3 seed in last year’s regional playoffs. The Trojans lost the opener, but they bounced back in the second game Friday evening with a win over Hampden Academy.
The Trojans then opened Saturday with a victory against Greely, a team that will be riding a 44-game winning streak into the 2018-19 season after winning back-to-back Gold Balls. That result gave MDI wins over the two teams that competed in last year’s Class A title game.
MDI fell 61-50 against Class AA Cheverus in the final game Saturday afternoon, but it took a great effort from the visiting Stags to keep the Trojans at bay. Cheverus made 12 of 21 attempted 3-pointers in the game and didn’t pull away from the Trojans until the last five minutes.
“They just couldn’t miss,” Norwood said. “We played with a high intensity and got it going there for a while, but they seemed to always answer with those 3-pointers.”
MDI’s had strong efforts from Chayce Sargent and Eli Parady throughout the tournament, but the two standout players, Norwood said, were Derek Collin and Drew Shea. The duo will be the top two returning contributors next season for an MDI squad that will have high hopes once again.
“They definitely led the way for us,” Norwood said. “I think we’re also starting to see some of the guys we’ll need to step up next year doing so, and that’s a good sign this time of year.”