The young Owls found themselves in a tight game in the opener of the Eastern Nazarene Holiday Tournament in Quincy, Massachusetts, and took their first defeat of the season Friday against St. Joseph's of Brooklyn, 61-60.
Maine-Presque Isle kept general control of the game in the first half, playing its pace and keeping the experienced St. Joseph's squad in check. Freshman Kevin Collins made several strong basket attacks, and freshman Maurice Harris contributed some inside finishes. It was defense, however, that was the name of the game for the Owls in the first stanza. Freshman Quinton Harris provided a huge spark rebounding on both ends of the floor, and sophomore Brandon McGill had several good rotations to dribblers in a help mode. Maine-Presque Isle took a 27-22 lead into intermission.
St. Joseph's began to make some headway in the second half, especially around the halfway mark on several key offensive rebounds and putbacks. On the game, St. Joseph's amassed a startling 25 offensive rebounds, turning the tide on the Owls late in the contest. St. Joseph's was able to ice the game away with a key offensive rebound off a free throw late in the game to quash hopes for Maine-Presque Isle of capturing the contest.
Head Coach Mike Holmes said, "It is no secret we are young, and we are not very big. Rebounding, however, cannot be our Achilles' Heel all year. Our guards will realize that in college basketball, we need them to scrap for some boards along the way, which includes blocking out some big, athletic kids. For the most part, we are doing tons of things well for this stage of the year, but we need to address things that will get us beat."
Maine-Presque Isle must turn around Saturday and take on Green Mountain, with tip-off set for 1 p.m.