ELLSWORTH — Darby Barry knew his breakout game would come. When it did, it only took him a matter of minutes to put everyone on notice.
Entering the weekend, Barry, the Ellsworth boys’ basketball team’s leading 3-point shooter and No. 2 scorer, had certainly established himself as one of the Eagles’ top players in 2019-20. Yet for all of Barry’s successes, he still felt as if he had yet to put forth the elite offensive performance he knew he had in him.
“I’ve been kind of waiting for something big to happen all season,” Barry said. “This was a big game, and I was hoping today would be the day for me.”
Early in the first quarter of Saturday’s game against Maine Central Institute, it was clear that Barry’s day had finally arrived. From his barrage of 3-pointers in the first four minutes to his pair of third-quarter back-breakers, there was simply no stopping Barry from turning a pivotal Class B North showdown into a rout.
Barry’s four 3-pointers in the first quarter and eight overall paced Ellsworth to a 55-36 win over visiting MCI. The senior sharpshooter finished with 28 points overall as the Eagles won decisively for the third game in a row and continued their climb up the standings.
Ellsworth (7-2) scored the game’s first eight points with Barry sinking his first 3-pointer to open the scoring and Jackson Curtis providing a layup and a triple of his own. After MCI’s Harrison Sites hit a bank shot to put the Huskies on the board, Barry netted back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers to put the home team ahead 17-2 with 3 minutes, 58 seconds left in the first quarter.
“When I feel good in warm-ups, I tend to do better in games, and that’s what happened,” Barry said. “After my third one went in, I knew I was hot today.”
Ellsworth scored just two more points in the first quarter, but the Eagles delivered on defense to enter the second with a 19-7 lead. After Barry’s fifth 3-pointer put Ellsworth ahead 23-10, the home team got three baskets from J’Von James and two free throws from Curtis before Barry connected from beyond the arc again to send the home team into halftime up 34-16.
“We contested every shot on defense, and [Jackson] did a great job of cleaning up the rebounds,” Ellsworth head coach Peter Austin said. “J’Von also got a couple big rebounds for us and got us going with those baskets.”
MCI (7-4) pulled within 13 points twice in the second half, but Barry responded with 3-pointers both times to stifle the visitors’ runs. The Huskies’ Gavin McArthur made three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, but the Eagles got four points apiece from Jackson and Hunter Curtis, two points apiece from Barry and Adam Inman and a free throw from Andrew Rideout to close out a lopsided win.
Barry had six rebounds to go along with his 28 points, and Jackson Curtis added 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Ellsworth also got key individual efforts from James, who had two rebounds in addition to his six second-quarter points, and Hunter Curtis, who added four points, five assists and four rebounds.
The win was the third in a row for Ellsworth, which beat Washington Academy 62-42 on Wednesday after beating Old Town 67-55 last Saturday. The Eagles’ win over Washington Academy avenged a 45-43 home loss to the Raiders to open the season.
“We were definitely hoping we would be able to peak at the right time,” Austin said. “I can’t say we’re peaking right now, but we’re certainly playing well.”
Ellsworth will take part in another monumental Class B North matchup when it hosts Hermon (10-1) at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15. The Eagles will be on the road against Orono at 12:30 p.m. next Saturday, Jan. 18, before hosting Mount Desert Island at 7 p.m. Jan. 21.
Wins in those games would help Ellsworth’s bid for a bye to the regional quarterfinals. With the top-four teams receiving said byes, the Eagles are already in decent shape to do so, and after delivering a career-best performance, Barry is even more optimistic about his team’s chances down the road.
“We’ve played some good teams during this stretch,” Barry said. “Everybody is feeling really confident about their game, and we’re putting results on the board.”
EHS girls ride 23-point 4th quarter to win over Huskies
Saturday afternoon’s boys’ game between Ellsworth and MCI marked the second game of a doubleheader that began with the Eagles beating the Huskies 55-40 in the girls’ showdown.
Ellsworth (6-3) got off to a hot start with 15 points in the first quarter, but the Eagles clung to a 19-18 lead at halftime after struggling on offense in the second. The visiting Huskies then scored the first eight points of the second half to put the home team in a seven-point hole.
Yet Ellsworth bounced back to pull within two points of MCI (2-9) entering the fourth quarter before freshman Casey Carter gave the Eagles the lead for good with a pair of 3-pointers to begin the final period. A 3-pointer from Trinity Montigny then stretched the lead to seven points before Ellsworth added baskets from Morgan Clifford, Jocelyn Jordan and Kylie Robidoux to finish off a season sweep of the Huskies.
Montigny scored 17 points for Ellsworth and added three rebounds, four assists and three steals. Samantha Carter (nine points, three rebounds and three steals), Casey Carter (eight points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Jocelyn Jordan (eight points and seven rebounds) also made noteworthy contributions for the Eagles, who made an impressive 11 3-pointers as a team.
Saturday’s game saw the returns of Montigny and junior Sierra Andrews, starters who were still recovering from illnesses that prevented them from competing in the Eagles’ 40-23 win over Washington Academy earlier in the week. With his team still not at full strength and up against an MCI squad desperate for a win, head coach Andy Pooler was more than pleased with the Eagles’ effort.
“This is one that kind of made me nervous coming in here because we’ve been sick and haven’t shot very well lately,” Pooler said. “When you’re up against a team with nothing to lose, they can knock you off. We needed to stay the course, and we were able to do that.”
Ellsworth’s next game will be at home against first-place Hermon (10-1) at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14. The Eagles will be on the road against Orono at 3:30 p.m. next Saturday before hosting MDI at 7 p.m. Jan. 22.