Junior-laden MDI Trojans hoping to make long tourney run in Class B North

After losing in the Class B North quarterfinals in each of the last three seasons, the Mount Desert Island girls basketball team is looking to make a longer playoff run this year.

The Trojans have put together an impressive regular season.

Coming off Thursday’s win over Orono, Brent Barker’s Trojans are 12-4 and occupy the third seed in the Class B North Heal Points standings behind 15-1 Hermon and 13-3 John Bapst of Bangor.

They have two impressive wins over No. 5 Presque Isle, 51-33 at Presque Isle and 54-27 in Bar Harbor.

Barker said he has been happy with his team, which returned just two starters off last year’s 12-8 squad.

“Our goal is to get better every day,” said Barker. “We’re working as hard as we can right now.

“We want to be playing our best basketball in February. That’s when we want to peak,” said Barker, who guided the Trojans to the Class B North championship in 2014. “The best thing about this group is they play for each other. They play together and they root for each other. They are a team.”

The Trojans are both deep and balanced.

“We get contributions from a lot of different people on a given night. We’ve been good that way,” said Barker, whose team has only two seniors.

The leading scorer on a given night could be any one of the players who see significant playing time.

“So we don’t see a lot of junk defenses (designed to stop one player),” said Barker.

The two returning starters are junior guard-forward Maddy Candage and junior forward-center Madeleine Good.

Junior guards Julia Watras and Alexis Clarito and senior forward Emily Banks are the other starters. Barker pointed out that junior Hannah Chamberlain and sophomore Rachelle Swanson have been key contributors off the bench.

The Trojans are athletic and long. Clarito, at 5-foot-6, is the only one of the top seven players who doesn’t stand at least 5-10.

Barker said a number of players can be the leading rebounder on a given night and Clarito, Watras and Swanson are all capable of being the point guard in the point-guard-by-committee approach.

Team defense is considered “one of our staples” by Barker, whose team has allowed just 39.6 points per game and has held nine opponents under 40 points.

“Our half-court man-to-man has been our strongest defense. But we’re willing to change it up depending upon who we’re playing,” said Barker. “We’ve been able to rebound out of it (half-court man-to-man) okay. We’ve got to make sure we box out.”