ELLSWORTH — When the Ellsworth Eagle and Mount Desert Island Trojan boys meet in their annual basketball rivalry, one usually can throw the won-lost records out the window.
That was the case on Saturday when the Trojans, who came into the game with a 6-6 record, dealt the host Eagles only their second loss of the season, winning 60-57.
And the Trojans did it the hard way, rallying from an 18-point deficit at the start of the second half.
For two periods, the Eagles — led by the torrid scoring of senior Ryan Petros — gave every indication that they would rout the Trojans.
Petros scored six points in the first period as Ellsworth jumped out to a 13-7 lead and the Trojans saw starter Jayson Burke go to the bench with two quick fouls in slightly more than two minutes.
Petros had what was likely his best quarter ever in the second period. The sharpshooting lefthander poured in 18 points, including four consecutive baskets, as Ellsworth took a commanding 36-20 lead to the locker room at halftime.
But in the second half, Petros cooled off as fast as he heated up and the Trojans, led by guard Caleb MacDonald, began to chip away at the Eagle lead.
After an opening basket by the Eagles, the Trojans went on a 9-3 run that cut the lead to 41-29.
The two teams exchanged points for the rest of the period, but MacDonald opened the fourth period with a drive to the basket to cut the Ellsworth lead to single digits for the first time since the game’s early moments.
After connecting on just five shots from the floor in the third quarter, the Eagles continued to struggle offensively in the final period.
Two baskets by Ben Walls trimmed the Ellsworth lead to 51-45 before Ross Saunders broke the scoring drought for the Eagles with a strong inside move to the basket.
But MDI’s Nate Chisholm hit a soft jumper in the lane with 5:10 to go, and Walls banked another shot off the glass after a Trojan steal.
Ellsworth’s Saunders went to the bench with his fifth foul, sending Connor Records to the line with 4:19 to go.
Records hit one of two shots and the Eagle lead was down to 53-50.
Andrew Austin temporarily stopped the bleeding with a layup for the Eagles.
But with a large contingent of fans in the packed EHS gymnasium urging them on, the Trojans continued their comeback.
MacDonald hit a baseline jumper, and moments later rifled a pass to Burke underneath the basket for two more points, slicing the Ellsworth lead to 55-54 with 2:32 remaining.
With just under two minutes to go, Chisholm, MDI’s 6-6 center, went high in the air for a rebound tip-in that put the Trojans in front for the first time.
At the 1:05 mark, it was Chisholm who scored what proved to be the winning points for MDI with a runner in the lane.
Eight seconds later, Ellsworth’s Petros hit a pull-up jumper but that was the end of the scoring for the Eagles.
A foul put MDI’s Records on the line with 29 seconds to go and he connected on both shots.
Trying desperately for the tie, the Eagles got off six shots — most from outside the three-point circle — on their final possession.
But against the tenacious MDI defense, none of them were uncontested and not one found the net as time ran out.
MacDonald and Chisholm finished with 15 points each and Walls added 13 in the balanced MDI offensive effort.
Petros finished with 31 points and Austin added 12 for the Eagles, who are now 10-2 on the season.
Ellsworth remains solidly in second place in the Eastern Maine Class B standings, but the win revived Trojan hopes for post-season play, boosting them to eighth place, just one point behind number seven Old Town, in the Class B ranks.