Inaugural Mustang season comes to close in playoff loss to PoniesMount View battles hard, but falls short against talented host opponent
Dover-Foxcroft — The No. 6 Mount View High School unified basketball team — in its inaugural season — qualified for the Maine Principals' Association Northern Division playoffs, but drew the unenviable task of hitting the road on Thursday, March 16 to square off against No. 3 Foxcroft Academy in the quarterfinals of the regional playoffs.
The talented Ponies, who had lost just one game during the regular season, came as advertised as the higher seed galloped to double-digit leads on multiple occasions — only to have the Mustangs hoof their way back within a few hoops nearly as often.
In the end, however, the home-standing Ponies corralled the Mustangs to surge to a 75-67 victory.
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Mount View’s season wrapped at 3-6.
With the win, the Ponies (8-1) advance to the semifinals, where they will face No. 2 Carrabec/Madison (5-2).
Carrabec/Madison bested No. 2 Oceanside of Rockland/Thomaston 52-47 in another quarterfinal playoff encounter on Wednesday, March 15.
Thursday’s Mount View and Foxcroft Academy game originally was scheduled for Wednesday, put was pushed to Thursday due to Mount View not having school following heavy snow the previous day.
Unified basketball — which combines Special Olympics athletes and general student-athletes (partners) in 5-on-5 competition — has taken the state by storm the past few years.
In 2015 when the Maine Principals’ Association officially sanctioned the sport, it had just 18 teams statewide. Since then, those numbers have swelled to 46.
Team members for Mount View include Kristen Allen, Jessie Blanchette, Reanna Boulay, Alexis Bowman, Nick Elkins, McKenna Gibbs, Austin Grotton, Nathaniel Illingsworth, Michael Lamkin, Brendan Savoy, Justice Savoy, Shaynen Schofield, Morgan Taylor, Anthony Vinconti and Destiny Winslow. The team is coached by Ron Simmons and Mark Cooper. The Savoys are identical twin brothers.
Team members for Foxcroft Academy include Virginia Macomber, Ethan Curtis, Chase Paul, Brandon Cookson, Griffin Loomis, Caleb Crocker, Coy Cooley, Gabe Taylor, Jordan Viles, Tyler Kessler and Jared Atkinson. The team is coached by Arnold Shorey and Tim Smith.
“Quick” Nick Elkins, the Mustangs' top offensive weapon all season, paced Mount View with a 25-point perforamnce, while Destiny “Firebolt” Winslow added 18 of her own; Grotton and Justice Savoy, 10; Brendan Savoy, four; and Morgan Taylor, two.
Viles led the Ponies with 20 points, while Kessler added 16; Taylor, 15; Atkinson, 11; Paul, eight; and Cookson, seven.
Elkins said, given the Ponies’ won-loss record, he thought Foxcroft Academy would be full of “6-5 and 6-6 guys.” That was not the case, but the hosts still were plenty talented, albeit with shorter players.
“It went very well,” Elkins said of the game. “Everyone played their best. I like unified basketball. It’s very fun.”
“We played fine,” said Winslow. “I didn’t know Dover was like really strong, [but] I enjoyed the season.”
Foxcroft Academy scored the first six points of the game, but Mount View rallied later in the half when Grotton scored back-to-back baskets to give the visitors a brief 13-12 advantage.
The Mustangs later found themselves down 14 points, but back-to-back hoops by Elkins and Winslow later in the half cut the visitors' deficit to 36-30 — before the Ponies closed the half on an 8-0 run to take a 44-30 lead.
Elkins hit a 3-pointer — his forte — late in the second half to cut Mount View’ deficit to 62-55, but the Ponies closed out the Mustangs over the final few minutes of the contest.
While Mount View’s season drew to a close, Elkins — a freshman — was upbeat after the game.
“I got to hang out with some of my friends [this season],” he said. “I got cut from the jayvee team for Mount View and then I heard, ‘How would you like to play for unified?’ And I thought, sure, why not? So me and my friends had a really good season. And we’ll be back.”
Winslow said her favorite part of unified basketball is “meeting new friends,” which she did in the team’s quarterfinal with the Ponies.
“I think it’s pretty awesome,” she said.
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Mark has been covering local sports throughout Knox, Waldo and part of Lincoln county since 2007. Haskell has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Maine and is also a 2000 graduate of Rockland District High School. He has won multiple Maine Press Association awards for writing and photography.
Mark loves the Boston Red Sox, iced coffee, cargo shorts and time with friends and family.
He resides in Thomaston with his wife Jenn, his sons Beckett and Austin and daughter Lila.
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