DEER ISLE — Within touching distance of a milestone, Myles Brown was forced to wait what seemed like a lifetime.
After scoring 28 points in Deer Isle-Stonington’s Jan. 19 season opener against Bucksport, Brown, Hancock County’s leading scorer last year, was just eight points away from reaching 1,000 for his career. With several games on the schedule for the coming week, including two at home, it appeared as if the senior would have multiple opportunities to reach the mark in a matter of days.
As has often been the case in the sporting world over the past year, though, COVID-19 had other plans. First, the school was forced to postpone a Jan. 23 home contest against Shead. Then, a weeklong transition to remote learning forced the postponements of games against Sumner and Searsport.
“It was very frustrating,” Brown said. “We had that first one canceled, and then we went fully online for like nine days or something like that. It was really hard to have to keep waiting to get back to basketball.”
On Monday night, Brown’s wait finally came to an end. Leading the way for a Deer Isle-Stonington team that was hungry to make a statement in its first game in 20 days, the senior highlighted a lopsided win by reaching one of high school basketball’s grandest achievements.
Brown scored his 1,000th point Monday in the Deer Isle-Stonington boys’ basketball team’s contest against Searsport at Deer Isle-Stonington High School. The moment came as Brown converted a layup with 6 minutes, 6 seconds remaining in the first half of the Mariners’ 75-41 victory over the visiting Vikings.
Brown scored the opening basket less than 30 seconds in after stealing the ball and recording an easy layup. He then pulled within four points after hitting a floater midway through the opening quarter before going coast to coast for a layup less than a minute into the second to move within two and put the Mariners (2-0) up 21-11.
Two possessions later, Deer Isle-Stonington’s Thomas Thompson secured a rebound beneath the basket after a missed Searsport 3-point attempt. Thompson then delivered a chest pass to Brown, who drove the lane, outmaneuvered an oncoming defender and laid the ball off the glass for his 1,000th career point.
The game was briefly stopped following the basket as Brown was honored courtside along with his family members. Although spectators have not been allowed at games this winter, Deer Isle-Stonington made an exception to allow Brown’s parents, Tasha and Garrett, and sisters, Macey, Maya and Michala, to be in the gymnasium for the moment.
“There’s a lot of rules this year, so I’m really glad they were able to make that happen,” Brown said. “That was very nice of them, and it made the moment a little more special for me, for sure.”
Brown finished with 19 points for Deer Isle-Stonington, which took a 38-19 lead into the break and led by 20 or more from there on out after an early second-half basket. Thomas Thompson drained five 3-pointers to finish with 15 points for the Mariners, who got 12 apiece from Coleman Brown and Dillan Steele, eight from Sam Knowlton, seven from Zach Billings and two from Jacob Gell.
Deer Isle-Stonington has returned all but one player from last year’s squad, which finished 13-7 after upsetting defending regional champion Schenck in the regional quarterfinals. Unable to compete for a state championship, the Mariners have turned their attention to proving themselves against a challenging schedule that includes upcoming games against George Stevens Academy and reigning Class D North champion Machias.
“We know we can’t go for a Gold Ball because it’s not going to be there, but we can make a statement and try to win every game,” head coach Don Allen said. “We can show people that, yeah, we were legit, and we deserved that recognition.”
Deer Isle-Stonington’s first game after the remote-learning break was originally supposed to come on the road Thursday against Bucksport. Yet on Wednesday, one day before that contest was set to take place, Bucksport’s athletic director, Aaron Ward, told Deer Isle-Stonington AD Betsy Woodward that Brown deserved to get his shot on the Mariners’ home floor.
“He called me up and said, ‘Hey, Betsy, could you guys play on the 9th?’” Woodward said. “He really wanted him to be able to do it at home, and we were able to do that. It was very nice of him.”
Rust, Brown and Allen said, was a bit of concern entering the contest after a three-week stretch without a game that included a week and a half with no basketball whatsoever. Although the Mariners started somewhat slowly, the team pulled ahead midway through the opening period and overpowered Searsport offensively the rest of the way in a contest that was hardly in doubt.
“This was the first competitive action we’ve had in a while, so for us to come out and play like we did, I was surprised,” Allen said. “For what we were dealing with, we were better than I thought [we would be]. I was really happy with how we did in the second half.”
The Mariners, whose rescheduled road contest against Bucksport was delayed once more, this time to Feb. 26, will begin a daunting three-game slate when it hosts GSA at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12. Deer Isle-Stonington will then host Machias at noon Saturday, Feb. 13, before playing on the road against GSA at 5:15 p.m. next Tuesday, Feb. 16.
Those games might not have the same fanfare of Monday night’s contest, after which fans blared their car horns in the Deer Isle-Stonington High School parking lot in honor of Brown’s achievement. Yet if the Mariners can secure wins against some of their toughest opponents, all of Downeast will be on notice.
“This is a great night, and this can be a great season,” Brown said. “Our group has been together playing basketball ever since we were little kids, and our goal is to win every game. We’re going to keep going and make the most out of the year.”