December 29, 2013

Eastern Maine Notebook: Wildcats winning streak at 52 games

By Dale Duff
Special to the Telegram

BAR HARBOR — To borrow that old adage, something had to give Saturday when Presque Isle and Mt. Desert Island – two unbeaten schoolgirl basketball teams – met in Bar Harbor.

Would the Wildcats extend their winning streak to 52 games? Or could the Trojans beat Presque Isle for the first time in four years?

The answer? Presque Isle 58, Mt. Desert 56.

The longest active winning streak in Eastern Maine continues. And it’s quite amazing considering the Wildcats lost seven of their top 11 players to graduation.

“You go on the road, play Ellsworth Friday night, stay overnight, play a tough MDI team in the morning, get down 7-0 to start the game, boom, boom, boom. I guess resilient is a good word for our kids,” said Ralph Michaud, the longtime assistant coach.

Most of the Presque Isle players are part of his soccer team in the fall.

The Presque Isle girls haven’t lost since Nokomis knocked them off in the semifinals of the Eastern Class B tournament in February 2011. Since then it’s been back-to-back 22-0 seasons, ending in state titles. And now an 8-0 start this year.

If you look at just regular-season games, the Wildcats haven’t lost since early January 2011 when John Bapst beat them, 57-53.

Everyone knew Saturday’s game would be a true test of the streak. MDI and Presque Isle were picked as the teams to beat among Big East Conference teams in Class B.

The Trojans led by two points after one quarter, and Presque Isle grabbed a four-point halftime lead. The score was 45-45 through three quarters.

And when Hannah Graham hit three free throws in the final 16 seconds, the Wildcats had their victory. Graham led Presque Isle with 25 points. Hannah Shaw scored 22 for Mt. Desert.

“Coach Hudson told the girls he’s never been more proud to coach the Presque Isle Wildcats than today. Some of the girls had tears in their eyes. This was an important win,” said Michaud.

A 208-mile trek from Aroostook County to Hancock County nets two wins and a continuation of that bull’s-eye on the back as opponents try to stop the streak. 

A YEAR AGO the Bangor girls won their first Eastern Class A title in 30 years, but defending it hasn’t been easy.

In fact, Coach Katie Herbine doesn’t even consider it a defense because the Rams (2-3) have a new-look team.

Graduation and injuries have left her with one returning starter: Mary Butler. After a 43-39 loss to Messalonskee on Friday, Herbine said, “We’re so young, you can see in spurts we can be very good. We have to be able to fight through it when things don’t go our way.”

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