For a while, the Gold Ball was in the office of Messalonskee girls basketball coach Keith Derosby, before the folks in the high school’s main office whisked it away to put it on display.

“Some of the girls stopped by a few times just to touch it,” Derosby said Monday afternoon.

The 58-33 win over Brunswick at the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday gave the Messalonskee girls basketball team its first state title since 1987 and a perfect 22-0 season. The celebration hasn’t really stopped since it began on the Civic Center court, Derosby said.

“I’m trying to get back to normal and get some work done, but people want to talk about the game,” Derosby said.

Returning home from the championship game, the Eagles were met at the interstate for the traditional firetruck/police escort parade.

“It’s just crazy to see how the community came together,” senior guard Sophie Holmes said. “To see Derosby achieve his highest point as a coach, and to be a part of that, was great.”

Messalonskee dominated the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class A division from the start of the season to the end. The Eagles had just one game in the regular season decided by less than 10 points, a season-opening 39-33 win over two-time defending regional champion Lawrence. That also was the only game during the season the Eagles were held under 50 points. The game, played in Lawrence’s cramped and loud Folsom Gym, set the tone for the season, Derosby said.

“Once we got through that win, we had an understanding of what kind of fight we had. We knew Lawrence wasn’t going to go down easily. That showed me we had some grit,” Derosby said.

“That’s a scary gym to play in. The fans are right on top of you,” Holmes added. “That game showed us how much we had to work to achieve our goal. It’s one thing to say you want to do something. It’s another to work hard and do it.”

The Eagles’ closest game in the tournament was an 11-point victory over Gardiner in the regional quarterfinals. In the state game, Messalonskee led Brunswick by 10 after one quarter, by 16 at the half, and cruised to the win. A season-long goal was to win every quarter, Derosby said. With 88 quarters played in a 22-game season, the Eagles came close.

“I think we lost less than 10 quarters all season long,” Derosby said.

Messalonskee graduates three seniors: Lydia Dexter, McKenna Brodeur and Holmes, a Miss Maine Basketball finalist.

“It means so much to be honored,” Holmes said.

With three starters returning, as well as many players who saw key minutes this season, the Eagles expect to contend again next season.

“We had a great younger group. Obviously, you don’t replace the type of kids we graduate. My three seniors are phenomenal people, not just basketball players,” Derosby said. “We’ll build around what we have.”

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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