Deer Isle—The varsity high school basketball season officially opened to local fans on Friday, December 9, when the Deer Isle-Stonington Mariners hosted the George Stevens Academy Eagles.
The two local teams traditionally start the season by facing each other, but Friday’s games were a little sweeter because both the girls and boys played at one venue. Bleachers on both sides of the court were filled, and the Mariner School Band filled in when the action on the court broke.
With the Eagles bumping the upper edge of Class C and its program at its best since over a decade, while the Mariners sit squarely in Class D and are working to rebuild, the lopsided scores didn’t seem to surprise anyone.
The Lady Eagles won 55-23, while the Mariner boys fell hard, 59-28 to George Stevens, the reigning Class C champions.
But every basket, steal and smack down was cheered, and frequently from both sides of the court.
“There’s so much family interconnected, it’s a wonderful way to bring people together,” Cathy Lewis said from the bleachers, as the last seconds wound down of the girls’ first half.
Lewis, the former interim principal of Surry Elementary School, travels to games all over the county following her husband’s referee schedule, but the games bring out plenty of fans who show up because a) it’s basketball, and b) it’s Maine.
“I think it has a lot to do with the cold winters in Maine,” Beckett Slayton mused, with on-court perspective. A starter for George Stevens sidelined for the opening game with an injury, he thought a little more, and added, “It’s really fun, and it’s really nice to know the community is so supportive of us.”
During both games, fans from the stands were as quick to call “Box out!” as the coaches, while at the refreshment table, hot dogs and pretzels were selling quick.
“It’s unified the state, forever,” said one referee, rushing into the gym to get ready to work the boys’ game. “And it’s something to do in winter.”
Winter seemed to be the first thing that comes to peoples minds when talking about high school basketball’s popularity.
“It gets people motivated,” Lewis said. “It’s dark and cold and this gets a little warmth going inside of us.”