MDI’s Mollie Gray surveys the floor as Houlton’s Amelia Callnan defends during the first half of a high school girls’ basketball game Jan. 20 in Bar Harbor. MDI (9-4) will play on the road against Presque Isle (9-4) at 4 p.m. today, host Caribou at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow and play on the road against Bucksport at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2. ISLANDER PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELL

MDI girls beat Houlton, Winslow, Hermon, fall to Old Town

MDI’s Emily Carter defends against Houlton’s Olivia Henderson during the first half of a high school girls’ basketball game Jan. 20 in Bar Harbor. MDI claimed home wins over Houlton and Winslow, fell to a home loss against Old Town on Monday and snapped Hermon’s eight-game winning streak with a home victory on Tuesday.

BAR HARBOR — It’s crunch time for the Mount Desert Island girls’ basketball team – on a number of fronts. 

Games this time of year always mean more as Maine high school basketball teams look for every win they can get to position themselves for optimal seedings come tournament time. Between scheduled games and rescheduled ones stemming from weather- and COVID-related cancellations earlier in the season, there are even more of those contests this year than usual. 

“We have tough tests for us almost every day,” MDI head coach Brent Barker said after Saturday’s game against Winslow, the second of six scheduled games for his team in nine days. “You play one game, and then you have to put it behind you, turn around and play another.” 

Barker’s MDI team did well for itself in the first four games of that challenging stretch. The Trojans earned wins of 43-42 and 55-31 last Thursday and Saturday against Houlton and Winslow, respectively, fell 48-40 to Old Town on Monday and bounced back with a 44-35 victory over a strong Hermon team on Tuesday. 

Against Houlton, MDI led 41-37 with 1:55 remaining before Houlton went on a 5-0 run to take a one-point lead just inside the final minute. The Trojans escaped with the narrowest of wins after Leah Carroll scored what would be the winning basket with 38 seconds left. 

Elizabeth Jones led the way in scoring with 14 points for MDI and added four rebounds. The Trojans also got notable contributions from Emily Carter (eight points and three rebounds), Olivia Gray (seven points, seven rebounds and five assists), Carroll (six points, four assists and two steals) and Mollie Gray (four points and 11 rebounds). 

“[Pulling out a close win like that] is something that’s only going to help us in the long run,” Barker said. “If you’re going to be a tournament-caliber team and a team that wins some games at the Cross Insurance Center, you’ve got to know how to handle those games and win them down the stretch.” 

MDI then made it two wins in a row with a 55-31 victory in Saturday’s game against Winslow. The Trojans got 13 points apiece from Jones and Mollie Gray as well as seven points from Olivia Gray, five each from Carter and Grace Witham, three each from Carroll and Sophia Brophy and two each from Elena Alderman, Soren Hopkins-Goff and Lexi Tozier. 

MDI then suffered a 48-40 loss Monday night against Old Town. The Trojans, who cut the deficit to a point early in the fourth quarter before the top-ranked Coyotes (11-1) closed out the game, got 19 points (including five 3-pointers) from Olivia Gray, 10 points from Leah Carroll, seven from Jones and two each from Alderman and Mollie Gray. 

On Tuesday, though, MDI would bounce back with arguably its best win of the season as it defeated visiting Hermon (10-2) 44-35. The Trojans led from wire to snap the Hawks’ eight-game winning streak and jump from sixth place to fourth in the Class B North standings. 

Mount Desert Island’s Mollie Gray looks to box out against Houlton’s Breanne Barton during the first half of a high school girls’ basketball game Jan. 20 in Bar Harbor. The Trojans began a stretch of four home games in six days with a nail-biting 43-42 win in last Thursday’s showdown with the Shiretowners.

Mollie Gray scored a game-high 14 points for MDI (9-4) in the win. The Trojans also got eight points from Jones, seven points from Alderman, six from Olivia Gray, four from Carter, three from Carroll and two from Grace Witham. 

MDI is scheduled to play on the road against Presque Isle (9-4) at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 27, before hosting Caribou at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28.  The Trojans will then play on the road against Bucksport at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2. 

After that, the Trojans will have two home games, a meeting next Friday, Feb. 4, with Washington Academy and a Feb. 8 regular season finale battle with Ellsworth, standing between them and tourney time. The team, Barker said, still has plenty of room for improvement before the tournament begins. 

“I’m happy with where we are, but I know we can be better,” Barker said. “We still have a ways to go to get to the point where we’re among those contenders.” 

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected]

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