Mount Desert Island High School basketball player Julia Watras plans her next move Saturday in the team's game at home against Presque Isle. The Trojans' 54-27 win marked the lowest point total this season for the visiting Wildcats. PHOTO COURTESY OF BARRY GUTRADT

MDI defeats visiting Caribou, Presque Isle



BAR HARBOR — A weekend full of back-to-back games against Caribou and Presque Isle has always been a difficult task for the Mount Desert Island High School varsity basketball teams. This time around, the Trojans escaped their Aroostook County foes unscathed.

The MDI boys’ and girls’ teams each went 2-0 against Caribou and Presque Isle over the weekend. The wins were enough to put both teams in top-three spots, at least for the moment, in the Class B North standings with just over a week remaining in the regular season.

The girls’ team avenged its first loss of the season Friday afternoon with a 58-49 win over Caribou, but the biggest triumph for the Trojans came in the team’s Saturday win over Presque Isle. MDI’s 54-27 win marked the lowest point total this season for the visiting Wildcats.

“That’s a good team over there, and they compete for regional and state championships year in and year out for a reason,” MDI Head Coach Brent Barker said of Presque Isle, which had won six of its past seven games entering Saturday. “It’s a testament to these girls and their hard work that we were able to play so well defensively against them both times.”

MDI (11-4) led Presque Isle by a single point after one quarter of play but went on a 36-14 run over the second and third quarters to complete a season sweep of the Wildcats for the second time in the past four years.

MDI entered the weekend having lost three of its past four games, including a 44-40 loss in overtime against Class B North-leading Hermon on Wednesday. That didn’t faze the Trojans (11-4), who scored their highest point total of 2018 against Caribou and their second-highest against Presque Isle.

“When you play six games in nine days, it takes a toll on you physically and mentally,” Barker said. “Like I’ve said all year, though, our kids just go out and play and don’t make excuses. They earned two important wins this weekend.”

Emily Banks led the Trojans in scoring against Presque Isle with 16 points, and Maddy Candage joined her in double figures with 14. On defense, MDI held the Big East Conference’s leading scorer, Emily Wheaton, to just 13 points.

After beating Caribou 72-48 on Friday, the MDI boys returned to the court Saturday to face Griffin Guerrette, whose average of nearly 30 points per game is far and away the best in the conference.

Guerrette scored 26 points for Presque Isle in the game, but it wasn’t nearly enough. MDI led the entire game against the Wildcats and moved to second place in the Class B North standings with a 63-46 win.

The Trojans took a 13-6 lead early before Presque Isle clawed its way back to pull within three early in the second quarter. Two Owen Mild layups spurred a 12-0 MDI run that gave the home team a 27-12 lead. The Wildcats were able to cut the deficit to nine points with a strong finish to the half.

Both teams started slowly to begin the second half before MDI (11-2) went on an 8-0 run to extend its lead to 43-27. Presque Isle hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the third quarter, but the Trojans scored three quick baskets early in the fourth and held on late to earn their third consecutive victory.

“We have what [ESPN college basketball analyst] Dick Vitale refers to as ‘spurtability,’” MDI Head Coach Justin Norwood said. “We have a tendency to go on these spurts, give up some runs to the other team and then find a way to build the lead back again.”

The win avenged MDI’s 53-49 road loss against Presque Isle on Dec. 28. This time, the Trojans held on to a commanding halftime lead rather than allowing their opponents to complete the comeback.

“We took better shots than we did when we met them up there, and we also closed out the game the way we needed to,” Norwood said. “In both games, really, I thought we executed well and showed resilience, and that’s what you need to do to win these games.”

The MDI boys were scheduled to host Hermon (14-0) on Wednesday in a game that was rescheduled following Tuesday’s snowstorm. Hermon gave MDI one of its two losses on the season when the teams met Jan. 20.

Because of time constraints that resulted from the rescheduling, the girls’ game against Orono scheduled for Wednesday will be played on Thursday, Feb. 1, at 5:30 p.m. That game will be the first of a doubleheader with the boys’ team, which faces the Red Riots at 7 p.m.

The MDI girls are back in action against Foxcroft Academy on Friday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m. before concluding their season at home against Ellsworth on Wednesday, Feb. 7. MDI plays 7 p.m. games on the road against Foxcroft on Saturday, Feb. 3, and at home against Old Town on Tuesday, Feb. 6.

 

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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