Deer Isle—The Mariner varsity basketball team ended its regular season undefeated at 16-0 after posting a 39-31 win over Searsport Monday night.
Now comes the hard part: waiting to play their first tournament game.
“In the past, the toughest part of going to the tourney is the time off,” Coach Randy Shepard said. “That’s a killer.”
At third place in the Heal Point Standings, the Mariners have earned a bye for the preliminary playoff game, and will head straight to the Cross Insurance Center for a quarterfinal game, against either Ashland or Schenck on February 17.
That means an 11-day break between competitive play and, as a countermeasure, Shepard is working to set up scrimmages in the interim, perhaps against Class C teams Narraguagus and Searsport.
While Shepard and his team couldn’t have predicted the Mariners’ undefeated run to the tournament, he said the season’s opening game against George Stevens Academy signaled a certain momentum.
“Right in the beginning, we hosted GSA and got the win,” he said. “We did a whole bunch of stuff we wanted to do. What we put in there worked.”
Shepard credits the team’s overall level-headedness for keeping them on track throughout the season.
“They keep their cool, they don’t get too high or low. I think that’s why they have come back from behind.”
The team was down double digits heading into the second half twice in January, against George Stevens and Greenville, and also gutted out a close victory over Bucksport.
Shepard gives all the credit to his team. “They play an incredible team ball,” he said. “And I try to promote that as much as possible. It has to be everybody on board. They’ve done an incredible job with that. They have completely bought into everything we do.”
Shepard will bring his team onto the floor of the Cross Insurance Center for a night quarterfinal game on Saturday, February 17.
“Going into the tourney, everyone’s 0-0,” Shepard said. “ Every team will be tough. I’m going one game at a time.”
Tipoff is 7:35 p.m.