ELLSWORTH — After a six-day wait that included a weather postponement, the Mount Desert Island boys’ basketball team was ready to play – except the ceiling at Ellsworth High School decided not to cooperate.
It was 6:45 p.m., and MDI’s road game against the Eagles was scheduled to start in 15 minutes. Instead, the custodial staff at Ellsworth High School was busy putting a giant tarp over the southeast corner of Katsiaficas Gymnasium because of a leak in the ceiling. The junior varsity game hadn’t even started yet.
All Coach Justin Norwood’s Trojans wanted to do was take the floor. After a rough stretch in which the former Class B North leaders had lost three out of four regular season games, MDI wanted nothing more than to show it could crawl out its slump in time for the playoffs.
It took 90 minutes of JV ball. And another 20 for Ellsworth’s Senior Night ceremony. But MDI finally got its chance, and the Trojans made the most of it.
MDI open up a big lead in the first quarter and rolled to a decisive win to beat Ellsworth 74-37 in the regular season’s final game. The win gave the Trojans a season sweep of the Eagles.
“The past two weeks or so, they’ve certainly challenged our team,” Norwood said. “We needed to get our step back for the playoffs, and with a crowd like this in a big rivalry game, this was the time to do it.”
Riley Swanson had the hot hand for MDI (15-3) early in the first quarter. The senior made three 3-pointers. Russell Kropff, Derek Collin, Aaron Snurkowski and Graham Good also scored for the Trojans, who led 17-9. MDI’s Andrew Phelps and Gus Reeves scored six each for MDI in the second to help them to a 33-15 advantage at the break.
The second half was much of the same, though Ellsworth’s injuries caught up with them. The Eagles already were missing Trent Mahon because of an ankle injury suffered last Wednesday, and star senior Bryce Harmon, who suffered one Tuesday, had to sit out the second half with ice on his left leg.
On the court, the third and fourth quarters belonged to MDI’s Mac Shea. Shea scored 11 points in the second half to put the game away. Seven of them came during a fourth-quarter run that saw the Trojans score 22 points, driving the crowd on the MDI side of the gymnasium wild.
Even though the Trojans had to wait to reverse the bad fortune of the previous two weeks, the team’s performance Friday was undoubtedly worth the wait.
“It was a complete game from us all around, and we kept it up even as it was late in the fourth quarter” Norwood said. “We had been ready to get back out on that court because we knew we were better than we’ve been playing. The players out there, every single one of them, delivered tonight.”
The win gives MDI the No. 2 seed in the Class B North tournament. The Trojans will play Belfast Area High School in the quarterfinal round at 6: 30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17, at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
“Both of those teams are teams who can beat us if we’re not on our game,” Norwood said. “They’re probably a bit better than their records show, and it’s the playoffs now. Everyone you face is going to give it everything they got.”