BANGOR — Katie Hutchinson’s team was not about to let the final tournament game of opening weekend be its last.
Trailing by multiple baskets three separate times late in the game in Saturday’s Class D North quarterfinal game against Schenck, there were moments along the way in which the Deer Isle-Stonington girls’ basketball team could, at the very least, have been a bit unnerved. Yet while some teams might have panicked given the circumstances, Hutchinson and her Mariner teammates did nothing of the sort.
“We weren’t going let ourselves lose this game,” the senior captain said. “It was all about whether we wanted it bad enough, and we knew that we did.”
Although the late-game drama was tough on the Deer Isle-Stonington faithful, that desire was enough to lift the Mariners in the end. There’s still work to be done, but after prevailing in this back-and-forth affair, Deer Isle-Stonington can proceed battle-tested and confident as it continues its Northern Maine tournament run.
Deer Isle-Stonington edged Schenck in a 43-40 thriller Saturday night to close out the opening weekend of tourney action at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. The win came as the Mariners overcame strong defense and 3-point shooting from the Wolverines to earn a place in the Class D North semifinals for the third consecutive year.
After three scoreless minutes to begin the game, the two teams exchanged 3-pointers with Kaylee Morey hitting for second-ranked Deer Isle-Stonington (17-2) and Cassie Russell converting for Schenck. The Mariners scored the next four points on a layup from Brittany Gray and a pair of Hutchinson free throws, but the Wolverines scored five of the next seven to head to the second quarter trailing just 9-8.
In the second quarter, foul trouble began to mount for the Mariners with Gray picking up her third and No. 7 Schenck (8-11) taking five trips to the free-throw line. Yet with the Wolverines hitting just 5 of their 10 attempts from the stripe and converting just two baskets from the field, Deer Isle-Stonington never trailed by more than two and went to the half tied at 17.
After Rylee Eaton made the first basket of the second half, Schenck scored 10 of the next 14 points before Gray hit a 3-pointer for the Mariners to cut the Wolverines’ lead to 27-26. Yet Schenck then scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to take a six-point lead, the largest for either team all game.
“We were feeling a little rough there for a little bit, but we still had to stay calm,” Hutchinson said. “We just had to tell ourselves, ‘OK, let’s refresh, start over at zero and then come back.’”
Deer Isle-Stonington did so, fighting back with seven points from Eaton and a basket from Gray to pull ahead 35-34. Schenck fired back with a triple to regain the lead, but Hutchinson responded with a clutch basket and a pair of ice-in-her-veins free throws to put the Mariners up 39-37.
Two free throws from Morey stretched Deer Isle-Stonington’s advantage to four points before another Schenck 3-pointer cut it back to one. Yet the Wolverines failed to foul Eaton on the inbound pass until just 0.6 seconds remained, and after the Mariners’ scoring leader sank both free throws, there wasn’t enough time for Schenck to do anything but watch Deer Isle-Stonington celebrate on the Cross Center floor.
Eaton led Deer Isle-Stonington in points and rebounds with 15 and nine, respectively, and Morey had a game-high nine assists in addition to scoring five points of her own. Gray (nine points), Hutchinson (eight points), Macey Brown (four) and Brienna Limeburner (two) rounded out the scoring for the Mariners. Laura Cote had 15 points on five 3-pointers for Schenck, which made eight triples as a team.
Although Schenck entered the game with an 8-10 record, Deer Isle-Stonington knew the Wolverines posed a threat after their tight regular season battles. Schenck’s other losses came amidst a brutal schedule that saw the Wolverines drop series against Class C North powers Dexter and Stearns and Class D South-leading Greenville as well as games at Penobscot Valley and Piscataquis.
“Schenck is probably the best 7 seed you’ll ever come across,” Deer Isle-Stonington head coach Randy Shepard said during the week. “We know them well after [playing them twice] already, but that means they know us, too.”
Deer Isle-Stonington will be back in action Thursday, Feb. 20, as it takes on No. 3 Katahdin (14-5) at 2 p.m. Katahdin defeated sixth-ranked Washburn (9-10) 38-12 earlier Saturday evening after holding the Beavers to a single point in the first half.