BAR HARBOR, Maine — As Chandler Guerrette walked back into Parady Gymnasium on Friday night, Presque Isle girls basketball coach Jeff Hudson spoke to his senior point guard.
“How’s your back?” he asked.
The 5-foot-5-inch Guerrette looked at him quizzically.
“Because you carried us tonight,” Hudson said.
Guerrette scored a game-high 24 points as the Wildcats remained undefeated with a 52-40 victory over Mount Desert Island in a key Eastern Maine Class B matchup.
“That was one of the tougher regular season games we’ve played in a couple of years,” said Guerrette, a four-year starter for defending state champion Presque Isle.
“I think we’ve proved we can play with the top teams,” she said.
Presque Isle (14-0) had defeated the Trojans (11-2) by only seven points at home earlier this season, so the rematch was eagerly anticipated by both teams.
“We had three days to prepare,” said MDI coach Brent Barker, who thought if his team could keep the turnovers under 20, then they’d have a chance to win.
“That didn’t go so well today,” admitted Barker.
The Trojans struggled with turnovers, posting more than 30 for the game.
“If we could have cut that in half, we would have had 15 more opportunities to score,” said Barker.
Presque Isle also turned the ball over a lot, especially early in the game, so the score remained relatively close through most of the first half.
“Offensively, neither team could get anything going,” said Hudson.
“I thought we took them out of their offense,” said Barker.
In addition to the turnovers, MDI missed a number of open layups.
While Barker wished he could have those shots back, he understood how it could happen.
“In a big emotional game, you shoot a little quicker and short arm some,” he said.
Guerrette started to get her touch in the third quarter as she hit a couple of 3-pointers en route to an eight-point quarter. That sparked Presque Isle to push its six-point halftime lead to 11 points after three quarters.
MDI had been within four points with 2:20 to go in the third on a hoop by freshman forward Kelsey Shaw, but PI posted a seven-point run to close the quarter, capped by a 3-pointer and a field goal by Guerrette.
Senior guard Megan Ireland opened the third quarter with a 3 that widened the Wildcats’ lead to 14 points, but MDI wasn’t going away.
MDI closed the gap to 45-40 with 1:49 remaining in the game after back-to-back baskets by Shaw.
“We would make a couple of baskets, then they would make a 3,” said Guerrette. “We couldn’t put them away.”
But the Trojans had to foul to get the ball back, and the Wildcats hit seven of eight free throws to close out the scoring.
“We didn’t make our foul shots early,” said Guerrette, “but we made them when they counted.”
Sophomore guard/forward Hannah Graham added a dozen points for Presque Isle, and Ireland posted six.
Junior forward Hannah Shaw and her sister, freshman forward Kelsey Shaw, each scored 10 points for MDI. Senior guard Emily Lewis hit a pair of 3-pointers for six points for the Trojans.
After MDI started fouling to get the ball back, turnovers plagued the Trojans again. MDI made four turnovers in the final 1:30 and only got one shot off during that stretch.
Hudson was relieved to get the win.
“They’re good, they have a lot of good athletes,” he said.
Barker, meanwhile, hopes to get another chance at the Wildcats.
“We’ve been able to play with them in two games,” Barker said. “Hopefully, we’ll get a chance to play them one more time.”
He wants a little more prep time first.
“We’ll take what hurt us and work it out,” said Barker.