BAR HARBOR — Justin Norwood’s team took the phrase “playing lights-out” a bit too literally Saturday.
Leading by 16 with 1 minute, 12 seconds left in the Mount Desert Island boys’ basketball team’s home game against Houlton, Norwood’s Trojans were on the verge of a much-needed win in the Class B North standings. Given the deficit and the time remaining, it seemed like a mere formality that MDI would claim a big win in front of its home fans.
Instead, seconds after a Houlton timeout, the lights in Bunny Parady Gymnasium flickered. Moments later, the scoreboard at both ends of the stadium went dark. Then, with the game paused and administrators gathering to address the situation, the gym went from dim to pitch-black as the lights went out completely.
“I can’t say I’ve seen anything like that before,” Norwood, MDI’s head coach said in a post-game interview in the still-dark gymnasium. “These days, pretty much anything can happen, I guess.”
With administrators told just before 5 p.m. that it would be at least 8:30 before power could be restored to the gym, the game was called. The result, which stood at 62-46, the score at the time of the power outage, was a fitting one for an MDI team that put forth one of its strongest performances of the season.
MDI got out to an early advantage with eight of the first 10 points and led 16-11 after the first eight minutes of play. Fueled by an 8-0 run, the Trojans then outscored Houlton 17-12 in the second quarter to take a 33-23 lead into the break.
Houlton, though, responded in the second half as it scored eight unanswered points over the first 2 minutes, 45 seconds to cut MDI’s lead to 33-31. After the second of two timeouts called by Norwood, the Trojans would get back into a groove over the next five minutes as they scored 15 of the next 18 points to take a 48-34 lead into the final quarter.
“I just wanted to get our guys to focus on some of the things we’d talked about at halftime,” Norwood said. “We saw some things we wanted to clean up, and we didn’t do that during that first stretch. That’s happened to us a lot this year, so it was great to see them go back out after that and pick things up.”
Houlton failed to get back within 12 points of MDI, which played a physical fourth quarter in search of its second win of the season. The blackout prevented the Trojans from dribbling out the clock to the applause of their home fans, though the MDI students singing and lighting up the gym with their phones gave the building some atmosphere during the confusion.
Alex Gray had a career-high 17 points for MDI in the win, and Spencer Laurendeau and A.J. Lozano also finished in double figures with 15 points and 11 points, respectively. Also scoring for the Trojans were John Bennett and Joey Minutolo with six points each, Charlie Parker with five points and Evan Ankrom with two.
The win was the second in three games for MDI after an 0-6 start to the season. Despite the subpar record, the team has been in with a shout in all but two or three contests, and with the second half of the season now behind them, the Trojans are hoping their past three games are a sign of a team that’s turned the corner.
“These kids work really freaking hard, and I’m proud of them because it would be really easy to have guys who quit on the team when you’re 1-7,” Norwood said. “I don’t know how the season is going to turn out with wins and losses, but even with a bad start, COVID, the weather and now the lights going out on them, they never quit.”
MDI (2-8) fell 55-48 to Old Town (8-3) on Tuesday at Old Town High School. The Trojans got 25 points from Laurendeau, eight points from Lozano, five from Parker, three each from Ankrom and Gray and two each from Bennett and Minutolo in the loss.
MDI is scheduled to host Winslow (7-2) at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 21. The Trojans will then host Hermon at that time Wednesday, Jan. 26.