Ellsworth boys’ basketball team tops MDI for 6th straight win

first_imgELLSWORTH — Looking up at the Katsiaficas Gymnasium scoreboard, Austin Harris knew his team was about to win a big one.Twenty-three seconds still remained in the Ellsworth boys’ basketball team’s clash with Mount Desert Island, but with his team possessing the ball and an 11-point lead, the senior guard let out a smile. He then turned to high-five teammate Jackson Curtis, who waved his arms to pump up the home crowd.“We’re feeling really good right now,” Harris said after Ellsworth’s 59-48 win over the Trojans. “Everyone is contributing, and we’re all on the same page. … It’s a lot of fun.”With six games plus tournament play still to go, Ellsworth is by no means about to rest on the laurels of what it’s accomplished thus far. Yet the Eagles are starting to establish themselves as the team they knew they could be, and as the tests get tougher down the stretch, Harris and his teammates continue to pass them.This is placeholder textThis is placeholder textEllsworth took the first of the two regular season battles against MDI with a workmanlike win Tuesday night at Ellsworth High School. The victory was the sixth in a row for the Eagles, who are in second place in Class B North two-thirds of the way through the regular season.Ellsworth’s Austin Harris drives on MDI’s Nate Philbrook during the first half of a high school boys’ basketball game Jan. 21 at Ellsworth High School. Ellsworth (10-2) is in second place with two-thirds of the regular season complete. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELLAfter both teams got off to slow starts on offense over the first three minutes, MDI got into a rhythm as it used a 9-4 run to take an 11-7 lead. The two teams then exchanged baskets twice before the Trojans (6-7) hit a layup as time expired in the first quarter to make the score 17-12.J’Von James began the second quarter with a corner 3-pointer to get Ellsworth (10-2) back within a basket, but MDI scored six of the next nine points to push its lead back to five. Yet the Eagles would soon pull ahead with a three-point play and layup from Curtis and a jumper from Harris and ultimately went to the locker room with a 33-29 advantage.Although MDI scored the first four points of the second half to tie the game at 33, Connor Crawford responded with his third 3-pointer of the game to put Ellsworth back on top. That began a 7-0 run for the Eagles, who took a 44-37 lead into the fourth quarter.“A lot of times, I’m a little hesitant when I shoot, but with the big crowd out here tonight, I really wanted to come through,” Crawford said. “I felt good early, and it worked out.”A series of hustle plays — a stolen inbound pass by Hunter Curtis and diving saves by Crawford and Jackson Curtis — and clinical offensive possessions pushed Ellsworth’s lead to 12 late in the fourth quarter. MDI used back-to-back baskets from Brady Renault to pull back within seven, but it wasn’t enough as the Eagles earned a home win over the Trojans for the first time since Feb. 7, 2015.Harris and Jackson Curtis had 12 points apiece for Ellsworth, which got 11 points from Hunter Curtis, nine apiece from Crawford and Darby Barry, four from James and two from Adam Inman in a balanced scoring effort. Porter Isaacs had a game-high 15 points for MDI, and Jack DaCorte added 12.The win was largely a product of an improved defensive effort from Ellsworth after the Eagles gave up 17 points in the first quarter. Crawford noted that MDI beat the Eagles on backdoor cuts several times in the opening period, but Peter Austin’s team stifled the Trojans over the final three with timely adjustments and improved rebounding.Ellsworth’s J’Von James passes as MDI’s Charlie Parker defends during the second half of a high school boys’ basketball game Jan. 21 at Ellsworth High School. Ellsworth will be back in action against No. 1 Caribou at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24. ELLSWORTH AMERICAN PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELL“Our rebounding was big for us tonight,” Austin said. “There were a few possessions in the third or fourth where they got too many offensive rebounds, but other than that, I was really happy with how we rebounded.”The 11-point win marked the fifth time Ellsworth has won by double digits amidst its six-game winning streak. The team’s only single-digit win during that stretch came last Wednesday as the Eagles pulled out a 50-49 thriller over Hermon to hand the Hawks only their third loss in the past 55 games.“There a lot of things [going right for us] right now, but the biggest thing is that we’re playing together as a team,” Harris said. “We still have a lot of room to get better and a lot of things to improve on, but when we play as a team, we can be great.”Although MDI failed to pull out the win, the Trojans didn’t let the Eagles turn the game into a rout. Entering this showdown seven places below Ellsworth in the standings was an unusual spot for an MDI squad that’s been one of the region’s top contenders in recent years, but Justin Norwood’s team wasn’t about to go down without a fight.“One thing we talk about in our program is to never quit,” Norwood said. “Even when we were down 11 or 12, our kids kept their heads in the game and refused to give in.”Ellsworth is set to host No. 1 Caribou at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, before hosting Presque Isle at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25. MDI will host Presque Isle at 8 p.m. Friday before hosting Caribou at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.Friday’s contest against Caribou will provide Ellsworth with one of its biggest tests of the season. The defending state champion Vikings beat the Eagles 74-42 when the teams met Jan. 1 in Aroostook County, and if Ellsworth is to have any chance at the No. 1 seed, they’ll likely need to beat a Caribou team that will is 12-1 ahead of tomorrow’s game against Houlton.“We’re hoping to kick it up even more,” Harris said. “We know we can play even better defense, and we’ve got to hit our shots more. I think we’re ready to do that.” Latest Posts Bio Ellsworth runners compete in virtual Boston Marathon – September 16, 2020 Mike MandellMike 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]center_img Latest posts by Mike Mandell (see all) MPA approves golf, XC, field hockey, soccer; football, volleyball moved to spring – September 10, 2020 Hospice volunteers help families navigate grief and find hope – September 12, 2020last_img

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