BAR HARBOR — Justin Norwood is used to coaching the Mount Desert Island High School boys’ basketball team during the coldest time of year. One weekend, though, is always a bit different.
Every summer, MDI invites teams from across the state to Bar Harbor for a round-robin tournament that gives some of the state’s top basketball programs needed offseason tune-ups and gives fans an early taste of the season to come. Yet during this tournament in mid-late July, coaches, players and fans arrive in shorts and T-shirts rather than coats and winter boots.
“I was joking with [Greely head coach Travis Seaver] that this tournament always seems to be during the hottest weekend of the year,” Norwood said. “It certainly was this time.”
Yet even though temperatures inside and out were warmer than usual, the weekend was a strong one on the court for the Trojans. Despite playing against four teams in larger class sizes, a young MDI team went 2-2 with two wins Friday and two losses Saturday.
MDI opened play Friday afternoon and earned a big win when it defeated Class A North runner-up Skowhegan. The Trojans then improved to 2-0 later in the day with a victory over a Hampden Academy team that’s been among Class A’s best in recent years.
MDI lost Saturday morning against Greely, but the defeat didn’t come before the Trojans forced overtime against the three-time defending state champion Rangers. The tournament concluded Saturday afternoon as the Trojans fell to Class AA Cheverus.
The results continued a summer of improvement for MDI, which will have to navigate a difficult Class B North field with a young squad in 2019-20. The Trojans must replace the production of their four leading scorers next year following the graduations of Derek Collin, Drew Shea, Eli Parady and Brett Duley in June.
“It’s been a really nice summer for us,” Norwood said. “We’ve really improved quite a bit. We struggled a little bit [at an earlier summer tournament] in Fryeburg, but I think our team has learned from it and bounced back pretty well.”
That progress, Norwood said, means more this time of year than the wins. MDI’s results throughout the weekend will do a lot to inspire confidence, but how the team arrived at those results is what matters most.
“It’s about continuing to get better,” Norwood said. “The better you are now, the better you’re going to be when it comes time for the season to get started. Right now, that’s our primary goal.”