Saints take down Bobcats
SARANAC LAKE — The North Country Community College men’s and women’s basketball teams rolled to decisive wins over Paul Smith’s Thursday night in the Sparks Athletic Center. The women won 75-41 while the men ended the night with an even 100 points to the Bobcats’ 71.
A very young and green Paul Smith’s men’s team struggled from the start as the Saints showed dominance in every facet of the game. NCCC jumped out to an early lead, forcing the Bobcats to play a game of catch-up the team just wasn’t ready for.
But despite the lopsidedness of the match, the geographic proximity of Paul Smith’s ensured a large and engaged crowd that saw plenty of exciting basketball. The crowd erupted when Saints freshman Jonathan Thornton turned a fast break into a dunk to put NCCC up by more than 20 with just about 20 seconds left in the first half. The Saints went into the break ahead 48-26.
With an early lead built, NCCC was able to go deep into its bench and get more bodies than normal onto the court. The team had 11 players score in the game, while Paul Smith’s only has 12 total players.
Damon Hunter led the way for the Saints with 20, and was followed closely by sophomore and team stand-out Malik Wilkinson, who earned 19. Shamar Logins and Christopher Drabo each netted a dozen points, and freshmen Jonathan Thornton and Diondre Harvey contributed 11 apiece.
Paul Smith’s sophomore Max Peguero put up the game high of 23, while Shane Stone contributed 12 points. The lone Paul Smith’s senior, Joe St. Cyr, scored 10.
NCCC continued to dominate and pull away in the second half as PSC struggled to find the basket. The Saints outmatched the hard-playing Bobcats, but the teamwork and communication of the slightly more experienced NCCC team was too much.
The biggest difference maker was under the boards. The Saints were dominant in the paint, while Paul Smith’s seemed to put up a token effort at rebounds. NCCC easily scored points while following their own shots on the offensive end, and were able to make quick turnarounds on defensive boards to get the ball upcourt before the Bobcats could recover.
The game got rowdy toward the end of the night, with the referees calling two technicals on NCCC sophomore Hunter. Hunter was ejected from the game.
“I think we played very good. We played as a team, we played good defense,” Wilkinson, who hails from Rochester, said. “I think the momentum shifted our way in the beginning of the game, so we got rewarded for that.
“We took a tough loss the other day to Onondaga, so we just bounced back with this win here. I think we’re a final four team, so hopefully we’ll see them [Onondaga] again in the playoffs.”
Dominique Boone, who coaches both the men’s and women’s teams for PSC, said he was less than thrilled with his boys’ performance.
“[They] just weren’t focused. They weren’t mentally there,” he said. “Bad games happen, at least it was this game and not a conference game. They gotta come out here and focus. Really, you can’t take anything away from today, it was just a bad game.”
Despite the tough loss, Boone said the young team has shown that there could be a bright future in the works.
“They’re getting better,” he said. “We played SUNY Canton on Tuesday, and actually played a really good game against them, we lost by seven, so I think that took a toll.
“We’ll be fine if we match the intensity that we played with on Tuesday, [if we] apply that to our conference games.”
Paul Smith’s lost 80-73 to Canton on Tuesday. The Bobcats are 2-6 overall and 1-3 in Yankee Small College Conference games.
Saints head coach Daryl Crist said he was quite pleased with his team’s decisive win.
“We played really well. We set the tone in the first 20 minutes,” he said. “They struggled against our man-to-man defense, and really that was the deciding factor.
“We shared the ball on offense and played good team ball. We stepped out of conference, played a good team and now we’ll go finish the semester with three conference games and hopefully we’re ready.”
North Country is 9-2 overall.
In the first game of the evening’s doubleheader, the substitute-rich Saints women topped the Bobcats 75-41. NCCC built a solid lead early on, going into the half up 31-14. After the break, the Saints ran away with it as the defense stepped up to shut down the Bobcat passing game.
NCCC came up with double-digit steals in the second half and easily brought most of them down the court for a basket. One highlight for the Bobcats was freshman Alana Bowden’s clinic in bomb dropping. Bowden netted four 3-pointers in the second half on her way to the team high of 14 points on the night. NCCC freshman Emily Sheets had the Saints’ high of 15.
North Country moved to 7-3 overall with the win, while the Bobcats now sit at 3-3.