BANGOR — Mt. Desert Island coach Brent Barker and senior forward Hannah Shaw both said that part of their motivation for the Eastern B girls basketball tournament came from newspaper articles talking about a possible regional final between Nokomis and Presque Isle.
When the semifinals were over, Nokomis coach Michelle Paradis and her players couldn’t help but think that, at the very least, Nokomis should be playing on Saturday.
Instead, it will be third-seeded MDI, which made key free throws and rattled the unbeaten Warriors for long enough in the third quarter to take a 46-44 victory on Wednesday night at the Cross Insurance Center.
Shaw finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds for MDI, and her sister Kelsey added 13 points. Nokomis was 16 of 54 from the field, and struggled from the free throw line, making just 7 of 16.
“We missed layups that we should have made. We missed foul shots that we should have made,” Nokomis coach Michelle Paradis said. “They’re basically free buckets.”
The second-seeded Warriors (18-1) were 1 for 4 from the line in the first half, but still led 22-20 at the break. In the third quarter, Kylie Richards, Taylor Shaw, and Mikayla Charters all got in foul trouble for Nokomis. The Warriors were a little thrown off by MDI’s pressure, and the Trojans led 32-28 after three quarters.
“We were hoping we could wear them down,” Barker said. “I thought that our post players — the two Shaw girls — could get up and down the floor a little faster than their post players. So we really wanted to capitalize on that, and try to see if we could get them a little more ragged. I thought our guards did a great job of putting pressure on the ball.”
Senior guard Kelsie Richards (17 points) kept the Warriors close with some big plays. Richards had a steal and layup for a three-point play in the third quarter, then added a four-point play in the fourth quarter to chop MDI’s lead to 34-33.
The Trojans still led, 42-39, and had the ball late in the game. MDI’s Sarah Phelps dribbled up the right sideline, and Kylie Richards got in front of her. There was a collision near midcourt, and the call could have gone either way. When the whistle blew with 1:07 left, Richards was called for her fifth foul, and Phelps made both foul shots for a five-point lead.
“For once, we actually had our foot on the sideline,” Paradis said. “We’ve had calls all season where we got a block because we haven’t got our foot on the sideline. She had her foot on the sideline. You can’t play scared. She had four fouls. She took a good shot — they just called it a block.”
MDI led 46-39 with 23 seconds left. Taylor Shaw scored for Nokomis, and then the Trojans traveled, setting up a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Kelsie Richards to make the final margin two points.
One key for the Trojans was that they limited Nokomis center Anna MacKenzie to eight field goal attempts. MacKenzie still had a strong game with nine points and 12 rebounds, but MDI’s defense kept her from taking over the game.
“Kelsey and I, we’re the same size as her, so we know we have the (height) as well to double down on her and really focus on not letting her get the offensive rebounds and getting those loose points,” Hannah Shaw said.
MDI also did a remarkable job of diagnosing and eliminating its weaknesses as the game went along. Nokomis outrebounded the Trojans 12-6 in the first quarter, but the Warriors were only plus-4 in that area the rest of the way. MDI was 0 for 6 on 3-pointers in the first half, then took only one in the second half.
Nokomis played solid defense on Hannah Shaw, holding her to 6 of 17 shooting. Other than the free throws and a couple rushed 3-pointers, there wasn’t any area where the Warriors really struggled.
“They did everything I asked them to,” Paradis said of her players. “The intensity on the defensive end with (Hannah) Shaw was great. It just didn’t go our way.”