BAR HARBOR — All but one member of the 15-man Mount Desert Island High School varsity basketball team are returning players, which may give the Trojans an edge on this season’s competition.
“There is a strong team bond, and I think that will serve us during the season,” said 10th-year Head Coach Justin Norwood.
He thinks the relationship between the players will prove to be an asset this season.
“I’ve been just really pleased with our whole senior class – all of them,” said the coach. “It’s been a really good preseason so far. There is a different atmosphere, and that has to do with the seniors and how they are approaching things.”
Seniors Gus Reeves, Drew Rich, Graham Good, Aaron Snurkowski, Russell Kropff, Jimmy Carroll, Riley Swanson, Devin Parlatore and Mac Shea have stepped up so far this season.
“I am really pleased that the whole senior class has taken it upon themselves to act as leaders,” Norwood said.
Aside from the experience the upperclassmen bring onto the court, underclassmen Andrew Phelps, Colby Lee, James McConomy, Drew Shea and Derek Collin also add to the promising roster.
Assisting Norwood are Kyle McKim, Tony McKim and Matt Umphrey.
Norwood said the team already has displayed its strengths during preseason scrimmages. The Trojans won all but one preseason game by 20-plus-point margins, beating out Gardiner, Hampden, Hermon, Fryeburg, Poland and Dirigo. The team’s single loss was to Portland High School, one of the strongest programs in the state.
“We’ve played really well and played well against [Portland],” Norwood said. “Losing by just three points was a good outcome.”
The Trojans’ strength comes from good shooting and quickness on the offense, and a powerful defense.
“We have a really good ability to get to the paint on the offensive end, and defensively, our guys have a toughness that serves us well,” said Norwood.
The coach also said that the Trojans have some room to improve.
“What hurt us last year was that defensively at the half-court, we weren’t as good as we have been in the past,” Norwood said.
Rebounding and decision-making are two aspects of the game the boys will work on during practice. “It’s about ‘how do I approach different situations during the game,’ which was not a strong suit of ours last year,” said the coach.
Norwood’s practices are not just about passing and shooting the ball. Prior to each session, he provides reading material for each player’s notebook.
“We do inspirational things [before practice],” Norwood said. “Today, we had an article about toughness. We do scouting reports in there that we keep, and we write down plays. We’re going to be writing down a lot more plays. Some kids are visual learners, and some need to write it down also.”
MDI did well early in the playoffs at the end of last season but fell to Orono High School in the quarterfinals.
While the team hopes that the state championship game will be the final matchup of the season, the Trojans are taking it play-by-play, practice-by-practice and game-by-game.
“I find most goals to be destinations, like saying ‘I want to go to the state championship,’’ said Norwood. “But the goal is really what you do every day to get there. We want to be winning our last game of the year, which we hope is the championship. But we talk about winning every moment that we can.”
The head coach encourages the team to focus on the task at hand rather than thinking ahead to what may happen at the end of the season.
“In our first practice, we talked about how you can’t win the state championship or the next game right now,” said Norwood. “You have to win the practice now. You have to win the first drill, and in games you have to win possession of the ball.
“As corny and as cliché as it sounds, if you do all of that, destinations can become reality.”