BANGOR, Maine— All season long, the Mount Desert Island boys basketball team has prided itself on a high-scoring, uptempo offense.
So when the No. 2 Trojans tallied only two points in the second quarter of Wednesday’s Class B North semifinal, coach Justin Norwood challenged his team to do better in the second half. MDI responded brilliantly, pouring in 29 points in the final 16 minutes to beat No. Central of Corinth 48-38 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
MDI (17-3) advances to the regional championship for the first time since 2012 and plays the winner of No. 1 Hermon (17-2) versus No. 4 Orono (16-3) at 3:35 p.m. Saturday.
Central ends its season with a 16-4 record.
“To be able to play in the championship is something kids dream of when watching basketball,” coach Norwood said.
MDI was paced by Riley Swanson (17 points, 5 rebounds), Graham Good (12 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals) and Andrew Phelps (10 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists).
“This is so awesome,” said Swanson, a senior forward for the Trojans. “Our group has never made it this far. In my four years, we’ve either lost in the quarterfinals or semifinals, so this is pretty special.”
Ethan Mailman led Central with 13 points, including three 3-pointers, and also grabbed four rebounds and made a steal. Dylan Gray added eight points, three rebounds and two assists, and Caleb Shaw posted seven points, two rebounds and a steal.
Neither team got to the free-throw line very often. MDI made four of eight foul shots (50 percent), while Central hit on four of six free throws (67 percent).
It was Central’s 3-point shooting prowess that kept the Red Devils in the game. The team attempted 27 shots from behind the 3-point arc, sinking eight of those (30 percent). In contrast, MDI was much more efficient with its deep shots as the Trojans made six of nine 3-pointers (67 percent).
MDI started the game on a hot streak as the Trojans rushed out to an 8-0 lead on a Good layup and a pair of 3-pointers from Swanson. MDI closed out the first quarter on top 17-7 and the game had all the makings of a rout.
But in the second quarter, Central’s defense stiffened, holding MDI to just two points. The Red Devils cut the deficit to 19-15 by halftime thanks to 3-pointers by Mailman and Micah Ward, along with a Gray putback.
“This was one of those games where one team was going to dictate pace,” coach Norwood said. “We set the tone in the first and third quarters, but Central did a very good job defensively on us. Our pace is to be uptempo, scoring in the 60s, so for Central to keep it a low-scoring game is a testament to their defensive skill. I think we played pretty well defensively, too.”