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Assertive Phelps sparks MDI boys basketball team with strong overall play

Carter F. McCall | BDN
Carter F. McCall | BDN
Mount Desert Island's Jonathan Phelps(right) tries to intercept a pass at midcourt sent by Medomak Valley's Kazu Tibbetts (left) during the Eastern Maine Class B title game at the Bangor Auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013.
By Ernie Clark, BDN Staff

Jon Phelps has been both assertive and patient while leading the Mount Desert Island boys basketball team to a 6-2 start in Eastern Maine Class B heading into Wednesday night’s game at Old Town.

That combination was in evidence Saturday during MDI’s 58-52 victory at rival Ellsworth.

The senior guard scored a game-high 21 points against the Eagles but required just 12 field-goal attempts, as he also made 8 of 11 free-throw tries.

Phelps now is averaging 17.3 points per game, good for fourth among Big East Conference scorers, while adding a league-leading 3.6 steals per contest to go with 2.4 assists and 5.9 rebounds per game.

As the most experienced player on a team that has reached each of the last two Eastern B championship games, Phelps’ leadership contributions both statistical and motivational in nature have been crucial to his team’s early success.

“He’s been playing most of the season like that,” said MDI coach Justin Norwood.

A sign of things to come for Phelps came last winter, when he earned Eastern B all-tournament honors while helping third-seeded MDI advance to the regional final. That postseason run was highlighted by a 21-point performance against Medomak Valley of Waldoboro in the championship game.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone turn it on so quickly from a sophomore or junior year to his senior year,” said Norwood. “In talking to his parents, Jon kind of defers and I think last year sometimes with Ben (Walls) and Adam (Gray) and those guys playing he did that, he would think, ‘This is their show and I’m going to get them the ball in good spots.’

“But the tournament helped, and then he had a great baseball season and a good summer and a good football season so his confidence is sky high. And he’s got all kinds of ability.”

MDI and 6-3 Old Town will be meeting for the second time this season, with the Trojans earning a season-opening 51-45 victory at Bar Harbor on Dec. 7. Phelps scored 25 points in that game, while senior center Andrew Davis had eight points and 15 rebounds and senior guard Abe Philbrook contributed six points, five steals, five rebounds and five assists.

MDI and Old Town enter the rematch tied for fourth place in the Eastern B Heal point ratings, each with a 19.0741 tournament index.

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