BANGOR, Maine — There is something to be said for veteran experience in big-game situations.
Mount Desert Island exuded confidence and showed plenty of poise on the hardwood Wednesday evening as the No. 2 Trojans outlasted No. 3 Presque Isle 72-60 in a boys Class B North semifinal at the Cross Insurance Center.
With the win, the defending state champion Trojans (17-3) and coach Justin Norwood punched their ticket to the regional championship for the second straight year. MDI of Bar Harbor faces either No. 1 Hermon (19-0) or No. 4 Winslow (16-3) for the regional crown on Saturday at 3:45 p.m.
In Wednesday’s semifinal, the Trojans received a balanced scoring attack as five players scored in double figures. Derek Collin led MDI with 21 points, as the 6-foot, 4-inch junior did the bulk of his damage slashing to the hoop.
Andrew Phelps added 13 points for the Trojans, while James McConomy added 11 and Colby Lee and Andrew Shea each scored 10.
Presque Isle senior standout Griffin Guerrette led all players with 30 points, including four 3-pointers. Jonah Hudson added 11 and Cole Paterson and Trace Cyr both had eight.
“Presque Isle has turned into a really nice rivalry matchup for us in recent years,” coach Norwood said. “Since (coach) Terry (Cummings) took over we have met in the semifinals three times (in the past seven years) and our overall record over Presque Isle is right around .500.”
Cummings was hoping for the proverbial third time being the difference against MDI in the semifinals.
“My first two years [in Bangor], we lost to them both times in the semis, so I was hoping this third time would really be the charm, but it didn’t work out that way,” he said.
The two teams played to a 15-15 stalemate at the end of the first quarter, but MDI slowly built its lead in the second period as Collin scored eight of his 21 points in the frame.
Cummings said even though the Wildcats were the highest scoring team in the Big East, getting into a high-scoring affair with the Trojans was not advantageous.
“We felt that if we could keep this game in the 50s, we had a chance to win this game,” Cummings said.
Guerrette did his best to mount a comeback for the Wildcats as he 10 of his 30 points in the final quarter.
“We were trying to provide (defensive) help against Guerrette because he is just a fantastic player,” Norwood said. “I was shocked that he was not a Mr. Basketball (semi)finalist because he is just fantastic.”
As a team, the Trojans converted 21 of 29 free throws (72 percent), while Presque Isle sank 7 of 11 of its fouls shots (64 percent).