Mount Desert Island’s Ethan Merchant (left) and Maddox Laurendeau defend against Ellsworth’s Hunter Curtis during the first half of a boys’ basketball playoff game March 2 at Ellsworth High School. ISLANDER PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELL

MDI boys fall to Ellsworth in Big East Class B quarterfinals

ELLSWORTH — A valiant effort against the top-ranked team wasn’t enough for the Mount Desert Island boys’ basketball team Tuesday. 

MDI fell to a 56-43 defeat in Tuesday’s Big East Class B quarterfinal game against Ellsworth at Ellsworth High School. The Trojans led by eight points late in the third quarter but couldn’t hold off the talented, fast-paced Eagles in the fourth to fall to a season-ending defeat. 

After taking a 9-7 lead into the second quarter after a low-scoring first, MDI pulled 15-9 as Grady Wellman-Webster scored eight straight points. Ellsworth (10-3) responded with a 10-0 run to retake the lead, but the Trojans scored 11 of the next 14 points to go up 26-22 before late baskets by the home team knotted the game at 26 entering the half. 

Ellsworth’s Chance Mercier scored the opening basket of the second half to give Ellsworth the lead, but MDI responded with back-to-back buckets from Porter Isaacs and an Ethan Merchant layup to pull ahead 32-28. The eighth-ranked Trojans led 40-32 in the final minute of the third quarter before two Hunter Curtis free throws cut the visitors’ lead to six entering the final frame. 

With MDI (4-9) leading 42-37 with six minutes left to play, Ellsworth went on a run that sealed the visitors’ fate. Keyed by dominant stretches from Curtis and Chance Mercier, the Eagles finished the game on a 19-1 spurt to bring the Trojans’ season to an end. 

MDI’s Maddox Laurendeau defends against Ellsworth’s Hunter Curtis during the second half of a boys’ basketball playoff game March 2 at Ellsworth High School. The Trojans finished the 2021 season with a record of 4-9. PHOTO COURTESY OF ELLA HUBBARD

“We didn’t rebound well, and we struggled to take care of the ball,” MDI head coach Justin Norwood said. “Those are the two things you can’t do, especially in the playoffs, and against a good team like Ellsworth, that makes it difficult. 

Wellman-Webster led the Trojans with 13 points, and Isaacs joined him in double figures with 12. MDI also got nine points from Brady Renault, four from Merchant, three from Charlie Parker and two from Spencer Laurendeau. 

The defeat was the third straight for MDI, which lost 46-43 at home against Hermon last Tuesday before falling to a 63-40 road defeat against Ellsworth in Friday’s regular season finale. Isaacs led the Trojans with 16 points against Hermon and 10 points in the first of back-to-back defeats for the Eagles. 

For the Trojans, though, this season was far from guaranteed. The ending was not what they’d hoped, but in an academic year that’s seen the novel coronavirus pandemic uproot high school athletics, the team was grateful for the opportunity to play in any capacity whatsoever. 

“A lot of credit goes out to all the people who made this happen,” Norwood said. “It was great to be able to get something for these guys, and that’s a testament to our administration. Bunky really fought hard for us; I don’t think people realize how hard he worked to make this happen. We’re really thankful for that.  

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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