HERMON, Maine —The Mount Desert Island boys basketball team has used its depth to emerge among the leaders in Class B North this season.
The benefits of that productivity beyond the starting lineup typically show themselves in fullcourt defensive pressure, fast-break offense and fresh legs that for the most part have been taking the measure of the Trojans’ opponents late in games.
That formula was decisive Wednesday night as the Trojans improved their record to 12-3 by wearing down Hermon 62-40.
“The last two years I’ve felt like we’ve been really athletic,” said MDI coach Justin Norwood, whose club began the night ranked third in the division. “We’ve got a lot of kids who can play so it’s a change in philosophy as far as what we’ve done in the past but the kids like it, I’ve really enjoyed it and the kids have really bought into it.”
Hermon, 7-8 and currently in Class B North’s 12th and final playoff position, rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit to twice draw within a single point, the last time at 31-30 on a fast-break layup by Jordan Bishop midway through the third quarter.
The Hawks then had a possession to take the lead, but MDI not only rose up defensively to stop that bid but held Hermon without a field goal for the next 7 minutes, 10 seconds while moving out to a 46-32 lead.
“I think our defense just played better,” said Norwood. “I felt like we kind of took their legs a little bit. It’s tough when I can rotate 10 guys in and you’re looking at a different guy guarding you every couple of minutes.
“And the kids have done a really good job of buying in to the press, which is not necessarily about getting steals, it’s about trying to speed the other team up, causing some unforced turnovers and maybe getting them to take some shots they don’t normally take.”
Drew Rich, a junior forward, came off the bench to spark MDI’s decisive 15-2 run, first with a drive through the lane and then with a 3-pointer from the left of the key.
Sophomore guard Andrew Phelps also hit a 3-pointer during the run, which was capped off by a 19-foot jumper by reserve guard Colby Lee.
Junior forward Riley Swanson paced a balanced MDI offense on the night with 13 points, while junior guard Aaron Snurkowski scored 12 points and Rich added 10.
MDI also dominated the glass against the smaller Hawks, finishing with a 35-18 rebounding advantage. All 12 Trojans who played grabbed at least one board, led by Graham Good’s eight rebounds and six from Russell Kropff.
Senior guard Tyler Beaton led Hermon with 11 points, while Bishop, Keenan Marseille and Colby Wittmer each added six.
MDI shot 58 percent (23-of-40) from the field, including 11-of-19 during the first half to offset 13 early turnovers as the Trojans took a 29-22 lead into the locker room.
Snurkowski made back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the second quarter and scored eight points overall in the period to help MDI maintain an early comfort zone.
“It’s really hard to play fast and play disciplined,” said Norwood. “We had a lot of self-inflicted wounds in the first half but we only had five turnovers in the second half. We really cleaned it up.”