BAR HARBOR — When the Mount Desert Island High School girls’ JV basketball team faced the Hermon Hawks close to the end of the season, they were set to avenge an earlier loss.
But in the matchup, in which MDI was leading by 14 points at halftime, fortunes quickly reversed in the second half when the Trojans turned over the ball several times, faltered on defense and missed shots. The final verdict: The Trojans lost by four points.
Even though the team didn’t emerge victorious, that game clearly stands out to JV Coach Greg Linscott. It pushed his squad to further improve along the steep learning curve they were on.
“As far as taking care of the ball is concerned, not making those mistakes, knowing when to shoot and playing better defense, we came out of it better, learning-wise,” said Linscott. “We came out as a better team. We learned from the mistakes, and we were better for it.”
In the following games, he said, the team cranked up the pressure and didn’t make the same mistakes when they took down the Hawks in the final round-robin tournament game by a comfortable margin. The final score was 63-34.
“They worked hard, and they had a good time,” said Linscott. “Sometimes pain helps you grow. You don’t like it, but it helps.”
The team ended its winning season with a 14-5 record. What Linscott said he will remember about the players is the improvement that each one made throughout the season.
“It was a very rewarding season because the kids improved a lot,” he said. “Of all the teams I have had, this was my most improved team.”
From the first day of practice in mid-November to the last game they played in early February, he observed them getting better. “This was one of my better teams in that sense.”
According to Linscott, the reason behind their desire to improve, not just as individual players but as a team, emerged from their competitiveness. “These guys were committed. I was impressed with how competitive they really were. I’m a very competitive person, and they understand that more than anybody else will.”
The underlying theory behind the JV program, said Linscott, is to advance the players to a level where they would be suited to play on varsity.
Speed, he emphasized, is the “name of the game” when players go forward from JV to the varsity team. “It’s a big jump, and I’m always trying to get the kids to run, to be faster. Some JV teams don’t like the way we play, but I want to go as fast as we can. That’s the next level, and I want them to get a feel of it.”
A few of the players on the JV team got a taste of that intensity when they were brought up to play with the varsity squad following the season ending injury of a senior player.
Aiming to prepare them for the intensity and speed is why Linscott incorporates drills in practice that require players to be swift. “We are always trying to be quicker, to shoot a little bit better under pressure and trying to get better so we can get ready for the next level.”
How each player deals with that pressure differs. Some players, he said, thrive when he dials up the intensity, while others don’t. “The goal of the coach is to get the maximum out of everyone.”
His squad matured and improved over the season. As a coach, he said that’s what one aims to see.
“You can’t go out there and play, you can only coach and work with them. Watching their growth and seeing them turn into young adults, it’s all very rewarding,” he said.
Team members included juniors Emma Burdette and Shelby Parsons, sophomores Amber Wiggins, Katie Clark, Alahna Mild, Athena Laurendeau and Emily Banks, and freshmen Alexis Clarito, Julia Watras, Julia Link, Maddy Good, Lily Cook, Hannah Chamberlain and Abby Moon.