ELLSWORTH — The Mount Desert Island High School boys’ basketball team fell to a 59-48 defeat against Ellsworth in Tuesday night’s encounter at Ellsworth High School.
After both teams got off to a slow start on offense over the first three minutes, MDI got into a rhythm as it used a 9-4 run to take an 11-7 lead. The two teams then exchanged baskets twice before the Trojans (6-7) hit a layup as time as expired in the first quarter to make the score 17-12.
J’Von James began the second quarter with a corner 3 to get Ellsworth (10-2) back within a basket, but MDI scored six of the next nine points to push its lead back to five. Yet the Eagles would soon pull ahead with a three-point play and layup from Jackson Curtis and a jumper from Harris and ultimately went to the locker room with a 33-29 advantage.
Although MDI scored the first four points of the second half to tie the game at 33, Connor Crawford responded with his third 3-pointer of the game to put Ellsworth back on top. That began a 7-0 run for the Eagles, who took a 44-37 lead into the fourth quarter.
A series of hustle plays — a stolen inbound pass by Hunter Curtis and diving saves by Crawford and Jackson Curtis — and clinical offensive possessions pushed Ellsworth’s lead to 12 late in the fourth quarter. MDI used back-to-back baskets from Brady Renault to pull back within seven, but it wasn’t enough as the Eagles earned a home win over the Trojans for the first time since Feb. 7, 2015.
Harris and Jackson Curtis had 12 points apiece for Ellsworth, which got 11 from Hunter Curtis, nine apiece from Crawford and Darby Barry, four from James and two from Adam Inman in a balanced scoring effort. Porter Isaacs had a game-high 15 points for MDI and Jack DaCorte added 12.
Although MDI couldn’t pull out the win, the Trojans didn’t the Eagles turn the game into a rout. Entering this showdown seven spots below Ellsworth in the standings was an unusual position for an MDI squad that’s been one of the region’s top contenders in recent years, but Justin Norwood’s team wasn’t about to go down without a fight.
“One thing we talk about in our program is to never quit,” MDI head coach Justin Norwood said. “Even when we were down 11 or 12, our kids kept their heads in the game and refused to give in.”
MDI will host Presque Isle at 8 p.m. tomorrow, Jan. 24. The Trojans will then host top-ranked Caribou at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25.
As the ninth-ranked team in Class B North, MDI is still in line for a spot in next month’s Northern Maine tournament. Yet Norwood still wants to see the Trojans cut down on turnovers and match their opponents on the boards in the coming games.
“We’ve got to a better job offensively of taking care of the ball,” Norwood said. “Everything in between that is getting better for us, but when you’re giving the ball over and not rebounding the basketball, you’re giving them more opportunities to score. If we can’t get better at that, we’re going to be in for some fights.”