BANGOR, Maine — The second-seeded Mount Desert Island High School boys basketball team scored 70 or more points in a game eight times this season.
But they showed their defensive prowess on Friday night as the Trojans limited seventh seed Belfast to a season-low 35 points on 26.4 percent shooting from the floor and earned a hard-fought 45-35 victory in their Class B North quarterfinal at the Cross Insurance Center.
Mount Desert Island meets No. 3 Central of Corinth in a battle of 16-3 teams on Feb. 22 at 2:05 p.m.
Belfast concluded a 10-10 season.
“We pride ourselves on our defense,” said MDI coach Justin Norwood. “We press full-court but we really make our money in our half-court defense and that’s what won the game tonight.”
Belfast standout senior guard Zane Bielenberg scored a game-high 16 points but he had to work hard for all of his points as the Trojans constantly surrounded him.
He said MDI was one of the best defensive teams they’ve played.
“They always had a hand up and they always had a help defender,” said Bielenberg.
“They forced Zane, Stanley (Sturgis) and Nolan (Woods) to take a lot of off-balance shots,” said Belfast coach Marty Messer.
Sturgis and his mates an excellent job against the MDI press but, as Messer said, “we couldn’t get the ball to fall.”
The Lions’ aggressive 2-3 zone caused problems for the Trojans as it forced a lot of turnovers.
The game was much closer than the final score but a 3-pointer by Russell Kropff and a traditional three-point play by Gus Reeves gave the Trojans some important breathing room in the fourth quarter.
Kropff’s 3 from the corner made it 36-30 with 3:41 left and Reeves found open real estate down the middle of the lane and laid it in while being fouled with 1:23 left to extend the lead to 41-35.
“Those were two huge plays,” said Norwood.
“I hadn’t made (an outside shot) the whole game. I needed that one to get going,” said Kropff.
Reeves said his basket was set up by their deliberate offense.
“We were stalling so they had to come out of their zone into a man-to-man and that left the middle open,” said Reeves.
Graham Good scored 13 points for MDI along with nine rebounds and two steals. Andrew Phelps posted eight points, four rebounds and two steals and Knopff finished with six points, eight rebounds and three assists.
Bielenberg had three rebounds and two assists to go with his 16 points for Belfast. Woods had nine points and two rebounds. Dakota Doolan had six points and four rebounds and Ian Snowdeal had eight rebounds.