ELLSWORTH — A win last week saw the Mount Desert Island High School girls’ basketball team end the regular season in grand fashion. Yet for the Trojans, this could be just the beginning.
MDI will have the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Class B North playoffs after a 45-23 road victory over Ellsworth last Wednesday. The win avenged one of the Trojans’ two losses this season and propelled the team past Hermon to the Big East Conference title.
“It’s an honor to be the No. 1 seed, but we’ve got to look ahead now and use this as a starting point rather than something we fall back on,” MDI head coach Brent Barker said. “Anyone can make a run at any time in this tournament, and being the No. 1 seed means everyone wants to be the team that beats us.”
After a tight first half, MDI found the breakthrough in the third quarter as it outscored Ellsworth 17-2. The Trojans then scored 12 points to the Eagles’ seven in the final quarter to seal a blowout victory.
Julia Watras led MDI with 14 points and 15 rebounds in the win, and Maddy Candage had a double-double of her own with 10 points and 11 rebounds. MDI’s other scorers were Rachelle Swanson with eight points, Alexis Clarito with six points, Leah Carroll with four and Olivia Gray with three.
Yet while MDI got a few strong performances offensively, it was the team’s defense that earned the win in the regular season finale. The Trojans, whose 23 points allowed were the team’s second-fewest this season, held Ellsworth guard Trinity Montigny without a basket in the win.
“The defensive end is where we really make our mark,” Barker said. “We didn’t play great in the first half, but our defense holding them off kept us in front. Then we made that run in the quarter and took a big lead.”
MDI is set to face No. 8 Oceanside (7-11) or No. 9 Maine Central Institute in the quarterfinals at 4:35 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16. The Trojans swept Oceanside in the regular season and beat MCI in a five-quarter exhibition game in the preseason.
With 10 days between MDI’s win over Ellsworth last week and its next encounter, the Trojans scheduled a scrimmage against Class A Hampden Academy this past Monday. With Hampden boasting a record of 14-4 in a higher classification, the game was a way for MDI to stay active against a team of the highest caliber.
The Trojans will enter the tournament having won seven consecutive games, a win streak that includes wins over five tournament teams: Old Town, Presque Isle, Hermon, Orono and Ellsworth. With three more wins, the Trojans can claim their first regional championship since they won the Eastern Maine crown in 2014.
“We have that experience, which is something you can’t teach,” Barker said. “Our goal every year is to get the tournament, and now it’s here.”