BLUE HILL, Maine — Mount Desert Island senior guard Rebecca Thormann drew arguably the toughest assignment for Wednesday’s game against George Stevens Academy.
Stop Maddie Park.
The Trojans limited GSA’s senior star to only four points, played excellent defense in the second half and hit key foul shots down the stretch to earn a hard-fought 42-41 victory at the GSA gym.
The 1-1 Trojans found themselves trailing 21-18 at halftime, but scored the game’s next 15 points during the third quarter and first 1:50 of the fourth while holding the Eagles to 0-for-17 shooting from the field over that span to take a 33-21 lead.
But the Eagles weren’t going quietly, as they embarked on a 9-0 run, capped by Alida Peake’s one-handed floater in the lane which trimmed the lead to 33-32 with 3:05 to play, setting up an exciting finish.
MDI coach Brent Barker quickly brought his troops over and settled them down, as GSA’s defensive pressure combined with hurried shots contributed to the spurt.
“He basically told us that we needed to calm down and he reminded us we could play with this team as long as we could keep our composure and just slow the ball down,” explained sophomore center Megan Phelps, who was a force underneath.
After the Trojans calmed down a bit, they took advantage of the Eagles’ foul trouble to nail eight of 10 from the line in the final 1:29.
Sara Carroll contributed largely to that stat, scoring all 10 of her points in the second half, including a 6-for-9 effort from the line, while Anna Joy hit the second of two attempts with 11 seconds to play to give MDI a 42-39 edge.
“Sara did a really great job and Anna hitting that last one really did the job,” said Phelps.
The Trojans pressured the perimeter well on the Eagles’ final possession, as they were forced to go inside and Theoharidis hit a layup just before time expired.
Thormann did an outstanding job on Park throughout the game, playing strong man-to-man defense and limiting her penetration into the paint.
“We knew coming in we had to pick up the defensive intensity, defensive pressure and stop Maddie Park from getting easy looks and we did that,” said Barker.
However, Park’s teammates picked her up late in the second half, as Lydia Clapp, Peake and Theoharidis hit some valuable 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to will the Eagles back into it.
Coach Donald Allen’s 2-1 Eagles, couldn’t overcome a 17-for-66 (.258) output from the floor while they only got to the foul line 10 times.
“The girls just didn’t execute, that’s the worst they played offensively in two years,” Allen said.
Park played with a back injury most of the night after she fell to the floor early in the game, and Allen said her tailbone is likely bruised.
The Trojans, who return seven players from a team that won only six games last winter, think this win could go a long way in a tourney return to the Bangor Auditorium in February.
“We put a ton of time in this summer. These kids have worked their tails off and they deserve this one, they earned this one,” Barker said.
Carroll’s 10 points led a balanced MDI offense while Jessica Swanson, Joy and Thormann contributed seven apiece.
India Frazier led all scorers with 13 points for the Eagles while Theoharidis netted 11 and Park had nine rebounds.