ELLSWORTH, Maine — Even as readied themselves for Wednesday’s Senior Night game against Hermon, Nick Holt and the rest of the Ellsworth Eagles couldn’t help but think ahead to Friday’s looming showdown with rival Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor.
“Maybe a little bit,” said Holt after helping coach Peter Austin’s club improve its record to 13-4 with a 59-45 victory over the Hawks at Katsiaficas Gymnasium. “We’ve been watching some tapes and talking about it a little bit. It’s just a big game for us. It’s awesome to see that game on our schedule.”
Ellsworth hopes the win over Hermon, coupled with a victory over an MDI team that entered Wednesday’s schedule as the only remaining undefeated boys basketball team in Eastern Maine, will advance the Eagles from fourth to third in the final Eastern B Heal point standings come this weekend.
The Eagles took care of the first half of that equation by avenging an earlier 47-43 overtime loss at Hermon thanks to solid defense and a 50 percent shooting performance from the field.
“To start things off it was Senior Night, which is big because everyone’s coming to watch our last home game,” said Holt. “And we want the No. 3 spot for the playoffs so we can’t take it easy against anybody.”
Thomas Sawyer led the Eagles with 22 points while Holt scored 19 as Ellsworth pulled away in the third quarter from a 6-11 Hermon team that looks destined for the 13th and final playoff berth in the division.
“We had a loss against Hermon, so we knew they were a tough team despite the records,” said Sawyer. “It was Senior Night, so we knew we had to come out big and play well and we played pretty good defense.
“We got a little sloppy at the end but we were pretty consistent, we shot all right and we shared the ball pretty well. Overall we played a pretty good game.”
Ellsworth shook off 10 first-half turnovers to build a 32-22 lead at intermission, then outscored Hermon 18-2 over the final 6:23 of the third quarter to extend its advantage to 50-29.
Hermon had closed to within 32-27 on a jumper by Braddock Deabay and a 3-pointer by Jacob Rioux.
Then Sawyer, one of four seniors on the Ellsworth roster along with Holt, Kyle Haslam and David Barnard, got Ellsworth going with three straight assists to set up a layup by Barnard and a 3-pointer and a fast-break layup by Holt to prompt a Hermon timeout with 4:40 left in the period and the Eagles holding a 41-27 lead.
Sawyer came out of the break with seven straight Ellsworth points, scoring on a reverse layup, driving the lane for a three-point play and then converting an offensive rebound to offset a runner by Deabay.
Ellsworth’s Steven Mahon capped off the quarter with a layup off a feed from Josh Bean — one of Bean’s six assists on the night.
“I think we were cutting to the hoop a lot more,” said Sawyer. “We were working on our post moves, getting the ball inside and pounding the glass. We knew where everyone was going and kind of got into our groove and started scoring more and more.”
Haslam added eight points and a team-high eight rebounds for the Eagles, while Bean had seven rebounds and Holt and Sawyer each grabbed six boards.
The Eagles made 21 of their 42 field-goal tries for the game, compared to 32 percent (17 of 53) for Hermon.
“When players were setting their screens and everybody was doing their jobs we were getting nice, open looks,” said Austin. “We’ve got some good shooters.”
Deabay led Hermon with 12 points, while Rioux scored 11 points and Fritz Marseille had nine points and seven rebounds.