MDI’s Emily Carter drives to the basket as Ellsworth’s Lily Bean defends during a high school girls’ basketball game Feb. 8 in Bar Harbor. The MDI girls (14-4) will enter next week’s state tournament on a six-game winning streak. PHOTO COURTESY OF BARRY GUTRADT

MDI girls close out regular season with win over Ellsworth

MDI’s Olivia Gray drives on Ellsworth’s Addison Atherton during a high school girls’ basketball game Feb. 8 in Bar Harbor. The Trojans will host a Round of 16 game next week and would advance to the regional quarterfinals with a win.

BAR HARBOR — Looking to enter the postseason on a high note, the Mount Desert Island girls’ basketball team turned to its defense.

Although MDI entered Tuesday’s regular season finale against visiting Ellsworth fresh off five straight victories, that would have been no consolation prize if the Trojans were to fail to win a rivalry game on Senior Night. Facing an Eagles squad just 24 hours removed from an explosive showing, MDI came through to enter the tournament on a high note.

MDI concluded its regular season slate Tuesday with a 43-30 victory over Ellsworth in Bar Harbor. The Trojans outscored the Eagles 20-5 in the second quarter and limited the visitors to just four points in the third to complete a season sweep of their rivals.

“We knew this was an Ellsworth team coming in here that had just scored 60 points last night,” MDI head coach Brent Barker said of the Eagles, who had beaten Caribou 61-46 on Monday afternoon. “To hold them to 30 like we did says a lot. We wanted to make things tough on them, and we executed.”

In a game where both teams started off slow, MDI (14-4) trailed 9-4 late in the first quarter after Ellsworth got a pair of buckets from Grace Jaffrey and a 3-pointer off the glass by Morgan Clifford. Yet the Trojans would score the next nine points before the Eagles stopped the bleeding with a basket from Addison Atherton early in the second quarter.

That quarter, though, would still belong to MDI. The Trojans outscored Ellsworth (10-7) 20-5 in the second quarter as stout defense and an offensive effort highlighted by eight points from freshman Lexi Tozier sent the Trojans into the locker room leading 26-14.

MDI continued its stifling defense in the third quarter as it outscored Ellsworth 13-4 to stretch the lead to 21 points. The Eagles found a bit of a rhythm in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late as the Trojans completed a season sweep of their rivals.

Olivia Gray led a balanced scoring effort for MDI with 10 points. The Trojans also got eight points each from Tozier and Elizabeth Jones and six from Elena Alderman, five from Emily Carter, four from Mollie Gray and two from Leah Carroll in the win.

MDI also limited Ellsworth’s top-three scorers, Jaffray, Clifford and Abby Radel, to a combined 14 points. The Trojans prevented the Eagles’ Jaffray and Jocelyn Jordan from getting penetration inside and made sure Clifford and Radel failed to get good looks on the perimeter.

“We wanted to make sure those were contested shots. If they made their shots, fine, but I wanted them to be contested,” Barker said. “We’ve talked the last couple days about making sure we know where their scorers are. We also rebounded well, and when you do that, you give yourself a great chance to win.”

Mount Desert Island’s Mollie Gray puts up a shot during a high school girls’ basketball game against Ellsworth on Feb. 8 in Bar Harbor. MDI closed out the regular season with a 43-30 win in Tuesday’s matchup with the Eagles.

The game was Senior Night for MDI’s Alderman, Carroll, Carter, Olivia Gray, Jones and Grace Witham. Those seniors have been seeing consistent minutes for three seasons now, and they had an electric crowd fueled by a massive student section behind them.

“I told them that this was not far from a normal MDI-Ellsworth game this late in the season other than us wearing these masks,” Barker said. “Our band sounded great, and our student section was awesome. We have such great fan support from this community. It’s a great way for these six seniors to go out.”

MDI had previously beaten Bucksport 45-16 last Wednesday before notching its highest scoring output since 2017 Saturday in an 81-36 victory over Washington Academy. Mollie Gray scored a team-high 12 points in the win over the Bucks and was joint top scorer with Tozier with 14 in the victory over the Raiders.

MDI will begin tournament play early next week with a Round of 16 game, a new addition to the postseason this year with the Maine Principals’ Association opting for an open tournament. Yet wrinkles are always to be expected in February, and in a season with as many curveballs as the 2021-22 season, such a variable is unlikely to be the last.

“We know we’re hosting a do-or-die game, and even though it’ll be a 13, 14 or 15 seed, with the way these playoffs are, anything is possible,” Barker said. “With COVID, a lot of it starts with being healthy. We tell our kids to make sure they keep their pods super small so that we can have everybody there for us.”

MDI boys fall to Hermon, WA

The MDI boys’ team fell to 3-14 on the season last week with losses against Hermon and Washington Academy.

Last Wednesday, MDI got 13 points from Spencer Laurendeau and 12 from A.J. Lozano in a 51-40 defeat at Hermon High School. The Trojans then got 12 points from Joey Minutolo on Saturday in a 49-41 home defeat against Washington Academy.

MDI was scheduled to host No. 1 Ellsworth (17-0) on Wednesday in the regular season finale. The game was Senior Night for the Trojans’ Lozano, Minutolo, John Bennett, Harley Henderson, Jack Hodgdon, Ben Lipski and Charlie Parker.

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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