BAR HARBOR — For the first time in school history, the Mount Desert Island Trojan boys will go into the Eastern Maine basketball tournament with a perfect 18-0 record.
The Trojans put a resounding exclamation point on the regular season as they bested the county rival Ellsworth Eagles 61-54 before a capacity crowd of nearly 1,400 at Bernard Parady Gymnasium on Friday.
“I can hardly speak right now,” said Jayson Burke of the Trojans moments after the win. “We knew it was going to be a dogfight. Without a doubt, this was the best game of my life. What a great way to end the seaosn, at home and undefeated. Amazing! I won’t forget this for the rest of my life.”
Just moments into the first period, Ben Walls gave the Trojans a lead they never relinquished when he drove to the basket for two points to put MDI up 9-7.
With balanced scoring from seven players, MDI pushed the lead to as many as 11 points in the second quarter before the Eagles began battling back.
Nick Holt and Thomas Sawyer each netted a pair of free throws and Sawyer nailed a three-pointer from the corner to cut the Trojan lead to 27-25.
But that proved to be as close as Ellsworth would get the rest of the way.
A pull-up jumper by Caleb MacDonald and a free throw by Adam Gray, who was fouled at the buzzer, gave MDI a 32-27 halftime lead.
The two teams swapped baskets through a low-scoring third quarter that saw the Trojans in front 41-35 at period’s end.
MDI continued to extend its lead in the fourth period and with just over a minute to go, a basket by Garrett Lee put the Trojans up 59-47.
Both squads made several trips to the foul line in the final 60 seconds and Ellsworth cut the lead to six points when Josh Bean hit a pair of free throws and Holt converted a steal to two points with 29 seconds to go.
But with their jubilant fans on their feet chanting “undefeated” for the final seconds, the Trojans held on for their second win of the season over Ellsworth.
“In the last few seconds of the game, I just felt really grateful,” said MDI coach Justin Norwood. “I was really happy for the kids, happy for the fans, happy for the school. It’s a great feeling to be part of it all.”
Shaw finished with 18 points, Ben Walls chipped in with 12 and Jayson Burke had eight points and 13 rebounds for the Trojans, who will play an Eastern Maine Class B quarterfinal on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Bangor Auditorium.
Sawyer finished with 19 points and Holt had 18 for the Eagles, who ended their regular season with a record of 13-5.
Ellsworth finished fourth in the Class B standings and is scheduled to face the 13th-ranked Hermon Hawks in a preliminary playoff Wednesday night in Ellsworth.
The winner will play in a Class B quarterfinal on Saturday at 10:35 a.m.
Emerson Whitney of the Mount Desert Islander contributed to this story.