BLUE HILL — As the regular season draws to a close, the Mount Desert Island boys’ basketball is picking up steam at the right time.
MDI picked up a pair of victories over local foes last week with triumphs over Bucksport and George Stevens Academy. The wins saw MDI improve to 4-6 on the year ahead of the final regular season contests and upcoming postseason pod tournament.
Last Wednesday, MDI won its third game of the season when it claimed a hard-fought home victory against Bucksport. The game was back-and-forth much of the way before the Trojans opened up a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter and earned a 57-46 win.
Porter Isaacs led the way for MDI with 16 points, and Brady Renault joined him in double figures with 11. The Trojans also got nine points from Maddox Laurendeau, eight points from Grady Wellman-Webster, four from Walker St. Germain, three from Spencer Laurendeau and two apiece from Alex Gray, Charlie Parker and Ethan Merchant.
MDI returned to action the following night as it traveled to Blue Hill to take on GSA. The Trojans took the lead early and never looked back the rest of the way to claim a 54-29 win in a matchup that pitted head coach Justin Norwood against Riley Swanson, a star player under Norwood at MDI and a current GSA assistant coach.
“It was really cool to be able to catch up with him and talk to before the game,” Norwood said. “He’s a special kid and one of those kids I taught all the way from the time he was in third grade. If he wants to be, he can be a really good coach.”
Isaacs had 15 points to lead MDI, which also got 14 points from Merchant and 12 from Maddox Laurendeau. Renault (four points), Kadin Reed (three points) and Wellman-Webster, Spencer Laurendeau and Henry Lester (two apiece) rounded out the scoring for the Trojans.
Merchant’s effort came as the senior scored five quick points to power MDI to a 10-point lead in the opening minutes. He continued his scoring late in the half with a 3-point play and a long triple as the Trojans took a 33-16 advantage into halftime.
“I’ve been waiting for Ethan to do that, and I think Ethan’s been waiting for Ethan to do that,” Norwood said. “He puts a lot of pressure on himself, and that’s the kind of play I’ve been expecting out of him. It would have been easy for him to give up on it, especially this year, but he’s a tough kid. I’m really happy for him.”
The win over GSA followed a victory over Bucksport in which, despite the win, Norwood felt his team could have performed better. Although the Trojans were far from perfect against the Eagles, their head coach was pleased with the team’s ability to deliver wins on consecutive nights.
“I actually felt like it was good to play back-to-back games because we showed the rust a little bit [against Bucksport],” Norwood said. “I didn’t think we played as well as we could have, but tonight, even though it wasn’t full-throttle, it was an improvement from last night.”
MDI was scheduled to host Hermon on Tuesday in its final regular season home game. The Trojans will close out the regular season when they play on the road against Ellsworth at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26.
After that, MDI will take part in a 12-team Big East/Penobscot Valley Conference tournament. The Trojans will be part of an eight-team Class B bracket that includes Ellsworth, Foxcroft, Hermon, John Bapst, Old Town, Orono and Washington Academy.
“It’s going to be nice to be able to play with a little more pressure,” Norwood said. “Any high school basketball game is really important to these kids, but with that being said, it’s going to be nice to play tournament-style to give the older kids another chance and the younger kids a taste of what it feels like.”