Good teams find a way to win even when things are not going their way. Case in point, the Deer Isle-Stonington Mariners.
The No. 2 Deer Isle-Stonington overcame a sluggish start with a solid second half defensively to secure a 48-34 semifinal victory over No. 3 Katahdin Thursday afternoon at the Cross Insurance Center.
The Mariners (18-2) advance to the Class D North Championship where they face the winner of No. 1 Southern Aroostook-No. 4 Shead on 9 a.m. Saturday. It marks the second straight year that DI-S has advanced to the regional championship. Last season, the Mariners fell to Southern Aroostook 62-49 in the north title game.
“That was not our best effort offensively, but we had different kids step up for us today when they needed to, which was huge,” Deer Isle-Stonington coach Randy Shepard said. “I always tell my kids that we win or lose together. There are only five kids on the floor, but we all have a role. It’s games like this where it is more true than ever.”
One of those players who stepped up was Mariner junior Rylee Eaton who had a monstrous game on the boards, hauling in 10 rebounds, one steal and scoring four points. Her line was all the more impressive considering she had to resort to wearing an old pair of glasses.
Just 15 seconds into the game, Eaton, a 5-foot, 8-inch forward, took an elbow to the bridge of her nose while rebounding, and looked down to see her glasses in two pieces sitting on the court.
“It really hurt,” Eaton said. “They snapped right down the middle. It was weird. Fortunately my mom makes me carry these [backup] glasses, but I have never had to use them. These ones are very old.”
Junior Kaylee Morey led the Mariners with 13 points and two rebounds, while senior Brittany Gray added 10 points and two rebounds.
The Cougars and Mariners played through an even first quarter, with Katahdin leading 8-9 at the buzzer. In the second quarter, the Mariners rattled off an 11-0 run to end the half on top 24-16. Katahdin never recovered.
Katahdin mixed up its defenses extensively in the first quarter, giving the Mariners a different look on almost every trip down the court.
“That was our goal coming into the game, to mix things up on defense to try and confuse them,” Katahdin coach Shaun McAvoy said. “We were hoping that would force them [Deer Isle-Stonington] to change their offense. It worked pretty well in the first half, but foul trouble hurt us in the second half so we couldn’t do as many things as we would have liked defensively.”
Turnovers were a problem for both clubs. Deer Isle-Stonington committed 18 turnovers, while Katahdin had 15.
Danielle Libby led Katahdin with 16 points, seven rebounds, a block and a steal. The Cougars end their season with a 14-6 overall record.
Deer Isle-Stonington converted 13 of 18 free throws 72 percent, while the Cougars made 8 of 16 (50 percent) of their foul shots.
“Not being able to make our free throws really hurt,” coach McAvoy said. “But overall, I think the girls played hard. We have nothing to hang our heads about.”