PORTLAND — It was a spirited effort, but the return of high school basketball’s Gold Ball return to Mount Desert Island must wait.
The MDI High School girls’ team the season as Class B runner-up Saturday with a 43-30 loss to Gray-New Gloucester at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland. The game marked the end for a senior class that will still end the year as Northern Maine champions after a strong 2018-19 campaign.
“We had some good looks today that just didn’t go in the basket,” MDI head coach Brent Barker said. “It wasn’t a lack of effort or a lack of commitment; we just didn’t make enough shots, and that’s sometimes what happens in basketball.”
After two early Gray-New Gloucester baskets to start the game, MDI took a 6-4 lead after a Julia Watras layup, Hannah Chamberlain 3-pointer and Alexis Clarito free throw. Yet the Patriots (20-2) rebounded from MDI’s six-point spurt with a 12-2 run that gave them a 16-8 lead through one period of play.
MDI got back in it to start the second quarter as 3-pointers from Olivia Gray and Watras cut Gray-New Gloucester’s lead to 18-14 with just under four minutes to play. Although Clarito had to set the final 2 minutes, 30 seconds after picking up her third foul, MDI (19-3) kept the Patriots at arm’s length the rest of the half and trailed just 23-18 at the break.
Gray-New Gloucester scored two of first three baskets of the second half before Clarito picked up her fourth foul of the game just before the halfway point in the third quarter. With Watras earning her fourth with 22 seconds to play in the period on a questionable charge call, MDI trailed 30-22 entering the final quarter.
The Patriots got their first double-digit lead of the day when they scored a layup on the first play of the final period. MDI cut the deficit to 32-28 on a pair of Maddy Candage free throws and baskets from Rachelle Swanson and Clarito. Yet Gray-New Gloucester’s staunch defense proved too much in the end as the Patriots ended the game on a 13-2 run to seal the win.
Watras led MDI with nine points in the loss. The Trojans’ other scorers were Chamberlain with seven points, Candage with six points, Clarito with three, Gray with three and Swanson with two.
Gray-New Gloucester’s win kept the Patriots unbeaten this year against Class B opponents. Head coach Mike Andreasen, who coached Gray-New Gloucester to its second Gold Ball win in three years, said the Trojans were worthy state championship game foes.
“If there’s a better team than them in [Northern] Maine, I wouldn’t want to see them,” Andreasen said of the Trojans. “They’re not the biggest team, but they’re really, really tough because they always put five kids on the floor who can score. They looked every bit the part.”
The game was the last for MDI seniors Candage, Chamberlain, Clarito, Watras, Lindsey McEachern and Zoe Parker. Those seniors spent three seasons as the primary contributors for the Trojans, and their coach won’t let their accomplishments at MDI be forgotten.
“They have a special place in my heart,” Barker said. “I just can’t say enough to what they’ve done and what they’ve meant for this program. It’s tough to go out like this, but you can’t ask for a better group of kids.”