Ellsworth’s Trinity Montigny looks to drive to the basket against George Stevens Academy’s Julianna Allen during the first half of a high school girls’ basketball game Jan. 9 in Blue Hill. Ellsworth won the game 38-33. PHOTO BY MIKE MANDELL

Ellsworth girls bounce back, hand GSA 1st loss

BLUE HILL — With every passing possession, Andy Pooler couldn’t stop himself from looking up at the clock.

Pooler’s Ellsworth girls’ basketball team had built a double-digit lead over George Stevens Academy, but that advantage had dwindled. With 13 seconds left, GSA had the ball down just five — not a likely scenario for the home team to mount a comeback, but far from an impossible one.

GSA inbounded the ball, and Pooler held his head in his hands. Two passes later, though, Ellsworth’s Katelynn Bagley had the ball in hers. By the time GSA got it back with three seconds to go, Pooler was doing a Tiger Woods-esque fist pump as Ellsworth’s Sammy Mason and Trinity Montigny celebrated.

“We did it,” Mason said to Montigny. “What a win.”

The Ellsworth girls won for the second time in three games by defeating GSA 38-33 on the road Monday night. The result sent GSA to its first defeat of the year and gave Ellsworth revenge for a 51-37 loss to the Class C North leaders earlier this season.

“This whole season, we’ve been looking for that one win we can really hang our hats on, and this was it,” Pooler said. “We had to run them out of time, and we got it done.”

Right from the opening tipoff, Ellsworth’s focus was on stopping GSA’s 6-foot forward, Morgan Dauk. Dauk had scored 29 points in the previous matchup between the two teams on Dec. 27, and the Eagles were determined not to let that happen again. With Ellsworth double- and triple-teaming her on every possession, Dauk scored just two points in the first quarter.

“She’s just so good, and you have to plan everything around how you’re going to stop her,” Mason said. “When we played them a little while ago, we weren’t able to do that. This time, we had to make it our No. 1 goal.”

Ellsworth led 14-8 after the first quarter, but GSA’s tight defense kept the game within five points throughout most the second. With the visitors possessing the ball and a 20-17 lead with 1.8 seconds left in the half, Pooler called timeout and drew up a play that would get the ball to Mason, one of his best shooters.

As Bagley looked to inbound the ball under the basket, Montigny set a screen for Mason just beyond the 3-point line. Mason caught a clean pass, spotted up to shoot and drained a 3-pointer to put her team up six heading into halftime. The senior smiled, and Ellsworth went to the locker room with momentum.

“At halftime, our team was very loose, and Sammy’s 3 was 99 percent of that,” Pooler said. “We needed that extra bit of a boost going into the half because we knew a good team like George Stevens was going to come out and adjust.”

Ellsworth (3-6) rode its momentum into the second half and didn’t allow GSA to score for the first 5:42. Ellsworth entered the final eight minutes with a 30-19 lead. Montigny had five of Ellsworth’s seven points in the third quarter.

GSA (9-1) rallied in the fourth and finally started to make shots from beyond the arc, but it was too late. The home team managed just one shot once it cut the Ellsworth lead to five late in the game. By the time it was in the air, the Ellsworth players were celebrating a win at midcourt.

“We knew they were going to start making shots at some point, but we made it difficult for them and didn’t allow any big ones until the very end,” Montigny said. “It’s been hard with some of our struggles lately, but a win like this makes us confident because it tells us we can compete with some good teams.”

Mason led Ellsworth with 15 points, and Montigny added 11. Hannah Sargent was the team’s No. 3 scorer with nine, and Bagley had the remaining three. Ellsworth committed just seven fouls as a team.

Despite dealing with various double- and triple-teams throughout the game, Dauk still led GSA with 16 points. Elsewhere for GSA, Emma Crosby scored eight, Mazie Smallidge and Dawn Hutchinson had four and Julianna Allen had two.

Ellsworth’s next game will be on the road against the Orono Red Riots (2-6) at 7 p.m. today, Jan. 12. GSA will head on the road to face the Piscataquis Pirates (7-2) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14.

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected]