ELLSWORTH — The road to the Gold Ball officially has begun for high school girls’ basketball teams throughout the state of Maine, and three Hancock County squads with high hopes for the 2018-19 season made good first impressions over the weekend.
Ellsworth, Mount Desert Island and Deer Isle-Stonington earned victories in their first games of the year last week. Those results marked the beginnings of what could be promising campaigns for those squads, each of which made playoff appearances last season.
Deer Isle-Stonington won the season’s first Hancock County showdown Friday with a 55-42 victory over George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill. The win was the Mariners’ third in a row over the Eagles, whom they defeated 46-41 and 55-51 in 2017-18.
On Monday, the Mariners improved to 2-0 on the season with a 41-39 victory over Searsport (1-1). That result gave Deer Isle-Stonington 18 straight wins in the regular season dating back to the beginning of last year.
Elsewhere Friday night, Mount Desert Island opened the year with a 57-50 win over Old Town (0-1) in Bar Harbor. Maddy Candage and Julia Watras scored 15 points apiece for the Trojans, and Hannah Chamberlain added four 3-pointers for the home team in a 13-point effort.
“There were definitely some of those first-game jitters we had to start the game, but that’s something you expect and just have to move past,” MDI head coach Brent Barker said. “I was very happy with how well we responded when they got the lead there and stuck with us early in the game.”
Ellsworth took on Orono in the first game of a doubleheader between both schools’ girls’ and boys’ squads Saturday. The Eagles came away with a 46-41 victory over the Red Riots (0-1) with the help of 19 points from Trinity Montigny and eight apiece from Sierra Andrews and Sara Shea.
“I think you’re always nervous going into that first game, and I certainly was going into this one,” Ellsworth head coach Andy Pooler said. “It’s just so important to get off on the right foot, but we were able to do that and get a win that we hope can keep bringing us some good points in the Heals throughout the year.”
Although Orono outpaced Ellsworth (1-0) for much of the fourth quarter, the Red Riots were ultimately unable to cut the Eagles’ lead to one possession. The victory over an Orono squad with nine of 12 players back from last year’s roster was a big one for Pooler, whose team will face Old Town (0-1) on the road at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12.
“With this conference, you’re playing somebody good every night,” Pooler said. “You can’t take a night off because you can’t let those chances to get wins and build up that momentum get away from you.”
Deer Isle-Stonington will be back in action at 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, when it plays on the road against Sumner (0-2). The Mariners will play their first home game of the season at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, against Machias, which they defeated by a combined 72 points over two games last season.
MDI will play Foxcroft (0-1) on the road at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Trojans are slated to play two more road games in the coming days with contests against Oceanside at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, and Washington Academy at that time Monday, Dec. 17.
Correction: The original version of this story said Deer Isle-Stonington was scheduled to play Sumner at home Thursday, Dec. 13. The Mariners will play in Sullivan that day.