High school basketball

Eagles grounded as Islesboro cancels boys hoop season

Island squad has experienced plenty of recent court success
By Mark Haskell | Nov 28, 2017

Islesboro — The Islesboro Central School boys basketball team has experienced strong success in recent seasons, including qualifying for — and winning in — the Class D South playoffs.

However, the Eagles — at least for the time being — have been grounded.

Due to a lack of prospective players at the school that has only 30 students in grades 9-12, the school was forced to cancel its 2017-18 campaign.

Dick Durost, Executive Director of the Maine Principals’ Association, said officials from the island school have “been talking with MPA staff [about the prospective issue] for several months” and were forced to pull the plug on the season.

Thus, the school avoided a possible two-year penalty from the MPA. Islesboro, should it be able to field a team next season, would be permitted to do so.

“The only time there is a two-year penalty is if they started a season and then cancelled part way through the season with one or two games played and the rest cancelled,” Durost said.

“On any given year we can end up with significant fluctuation in our population of boys and our population of basketball players,” said Islesboro athletic director Colden Golann. “And really what happened this year is we had a very small group of boys who had varying levels of interest because a lot of them are participating in a wide variety of different activities.”

Golann said the school had only “two or three very solid commitments” to play, “so we just felt the best decision was to not continue with the season.”

Islesboro graduated nine seniors from last year’s team, Golann said.

Golann said the island's middle school-aged team has 16 players, several of who will be eligible to play at the high school-level next year.

“We have potential to have a pretty large team next year,” he said.

Islesboro had reached out to to Searsport District High School, Belfast Area High School and Camden Hills Regional High School about forming a possible cooperative team, but Searsport and Belfast declined for various reasons.

Belfast athletic director Terry Kenniston said “we explored it and it didn’t work out at that point in time.”

“It wasn’t a situation where I could say, ‘Yeah, sure we’ll co-op and let those kids try out and those kinds of things,” Kenniston said. “It’s a process to go through because some of these co-ops are pretty big. [And] there are a lot of politics that go with those kinds of things.”

“It would have to be approved through the school board for us to be a cooperative team per MPA rules,” said Searsport athletic director John Williamson. “And we thought it was in our best interests to just continue the way we are.”

In the end, one Islesboro student-athlete will be given the opportunity to play organized basketball on the junior varsity team for Camden Hills. The student would not be eligible for varsity play as the schools would have to become a co-op program.

“Camden [Hills] came through for us really in the last week before the season after it became clear Searsport wasn’t going to work out and really helped us out to give that student an opportunity to play basketball,” said Golann.

"We feel that it is important to keep [the Islesboro student] going in hopes that he can be the foundation of next year's ICS boys team," said Camden Hills athletic director Steve Alex.

Alex added that when spectators at the games see the Islesboro student on the court with the other Windjammers, that is fine, and that Camden Hills has not broken MPA rules since the Islesboro student will play subvarsity only. It would only be an issue if a student-athlete played on the varsity.

"The MPA is in the loop on this matter that we are hosting [the player] for the season for jayvees so that he may have the opportunity to play," Alex said.

The Eagles qualified for the playoffs the last four years. In the 2015-16 season, the Eagles won their first quarterfinal playoff game in 18 years. The then No. 7 Eagles upset No. 2 Pine Tree Academy of Freeport 66-50 at the Augusta Civic Center.

Islesboro will field a girls hoop squad this winter and play a full varsity schedule.

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Mark Haskell
Associate Sports Director
594-4401, ext. 116
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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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