The first Ellsworth American All-Hancock County girls’ team combines players of various skill sets and abilities from all three local playoff teams. Members of this year’s team are (from left) Lily Gray (senior, Deer Isle-Stonington), Rylee Eaton (sophomore, Deer Isle-Stonington), Trinity Montigny (junior, Ellsworth), Hannah Chamberlain (senior, Mount Desert Island), Maddy Candage (senior, MDI) and Julia Watras (senior, MDI).

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT PREVIEW: Six chosen to All-Hancock County girls’ team

Whether it came to scoring, passing, rebounding or playing stifling defense, Hancock County girls’ basketball players could do it all in 2018-19.

Those efforts earned six players spots on the first Ellsworth American All-Hancock County girls’ team, an accomplished unit that brings together the top skill sets from the three local playoff teams. These athletes were some of the best the state had to offer this season, and the contributions they made to their respective teams will be worth watching on the Cross Insurance Center floor.

Lily Gray, senior, Deer Isle-Stonington

With teammates Rylee Eaton and Kaylee Morey emerging as consistent scorers in the Class D ranks, Gray, Deer Isle-Stonington’s point guard, emerged as more of a floor general as a senior. That made a big difference for the team’s offense, which improved from 44.4 points per game last year to 58.4 per game this season.

Deer Isle-Stonington’s Lily Gray tries to keep the ball away from Ellsworth’s Trinity Montigny as teammate Rylee Eaton looks to get open during the first half of a preseason high school girls’ basketball game Dec. 3 at Ellsworth High School. All three players earned spots on this year’s Ellsworth American All-Hancock County girls’ team. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELL

Performing somewhat of a new role was different for Gray, who had led the team in points her freshman, sophomore and junior seasons, but the senior still scored more than her fair share for Deer Isle-Stonington with double figures in seven of her first 12 games. She has been selected to play in the Maine McDonald’s Senior All-Star Game early next month at Husson University.

“I’ve really enjoyed stepping up into a spot where I’m a lot more of a passer,” Gray said. “Whatever my team needs me to do, I’m going to do it, and I think kind of changing roles like that has made me a better player.”

Rylee Eaton, sophomore, Deer Isle-Stonington

Although Gray has made big contributions to this year’s Deer Isle-Stonington girls’ team as a senior, the Mariners, who will graduate only two players this June, remain a relatively young squad. Yet underclassmen have played important roles in the team’s success this year, and Eaton’s rise was significant in the team posting another unbeaten regular season.

After starting as a freshman last year, Eaton took a big step forward in 2018-19 as she averaged 15.7 points per game through the Mariners’ first 13 contests. Her scoring efforts included 28 points Jan. 7 against Jonesport-Beals, 22 point-games Dec. 29 against Greenville and Jan. 10 against Sumner and 20-point outputs Jan. 3 against Bangor Christian and Jan. 26 against Bucksport.

Trinity Montigny, junior, Ellsworth

Montigny, who finished tied with Foxcroft’s Makenzie Beaudry as the Big East Conference’s top scorer this year, was the on-court catalyst for an Ellsworth team that had one of its best regular seasons in nearly a quarter-century with a record of 13-5. Her average of 16.6 points per game included two efforts of 30-plus points.

Montigny’s success wasn’t limited to scoring, though, as the junior also finished among the conference’s top-10 players in both steals and assists. She was named Big East Player of the Week after her 37-point game Dec. 22 against Belfast.

MDI’s Hannah Chamberlain shoots a 3-pointer during the first half of a high school girls’ basketball game against Foxcroft on Feb. 4 in Bar Harbor. Chamberlain’s 41 3-pointers this year were second in the Big East Conference. BARRY GUTRADT PHOTO

“She’s just a phenomenal player,” Ellsworth head coach Andy Pooler said. “Every year, she’s gotten more explosive and even tougher for other teams to guard. When other teams have to commit more than one person to guarding her, it really opens things up for our offense.”

Hannah Chamberlain, senior, Mount Desert Island

MDI’s 16-2 record and No. 1 seed in the Class B North playoffs would not have happened without Chamberlain, whose prowess from beyond the arc was a boon to the Mariners’ offense. The senior sharpshooter finished as one of the Big East’s top 3-point shooters with a total of 41.

Those shots always seemed to come in the most exigent situations for Chamberlain, whose 3-point barrages Jan. 5 against Oceanside, Jan. 23 against Old Town and Jan. 29 against Hermon keyed comeback wins for MDI. She averaged 10.0 points per game on the season.

Maddy Candage, senior, Mount Desert Island

Candage’s presence alongside teammate Julia Watras in the post gave MDI one of the state’s most dominant frontcourts this season. The senior’s 217 points in the regular season were just one short of her fellow forward’s 218, and her 8.3 rebounds per game were also a close second.

“The players in this senior class have been some of the major contributors to us for three years now, and Maddy is one of those players,” Barker said. “The matchup advantage she and Julia give us in the post against a lot of teams is really, really big. She’s a key leader for us, and she brings such great energy to our team on both ends of the floor.”

Julia Watras, senior, Mount Desert Island

A three-year starter for MDI, Watras had what was by far her best season for the Trojans 2018-19. MDI’s leader in points (12.1) and rebounds (9.1) per game and joint leader in assists per game (2.3), Watras was a major reason for the Trojans’ success.

Watras was named Big East Player of the Week for the first week of the season after recording 53 points and 31 rebounds in the Trojans’ first three games. Her improvement came as no surprise to her coach, who knew very early in the year that the senior forward had reached the next level.

“Julia has definitely taken a big leap for us this year,” Barker said after MDI beat John Bapst on Dec. 22 to improve to 5-0. “She’s playing a bit of a different role for us this year with the foul line extended and her using that quickness and length.”

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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