The first semester has come to a close for the Southern Maine Community College basketball teams and both squads have plenty to look forward to when play resumes next month.
The women lead the Yankee Small College Conference with a 7-0 record. The Seawolves are 11-2 overall.
After dropping its opener, SMCC rattled off 11 straight victories and the 11th was the sweetest of all.
Last Wednesday, the Seawolves hosted rival Central Maine CC. Playing without standout Katelyn Benson, who was sidelined with mono, SMCC was only up, 26-21, at halftime, but freshman Emily Bard hit back-to-back 3s to open the lead to nine and the Seawolves gradually pulled away for a 56-33 triumph.
Bard finished with 21 points, which included five 3-pointers.
“I was just feeling it,” Bard said. “We’re working as a team, which is really helping us. We’ve worked on defense a lot. We just play our game. That’s what it comes down to.”
Marissa Welch continued her strong post play with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
“We did really well without Katelyn,” Welch said. “Emily got a lot of points from the outside. We’re doing a good job working as a team. We need to keep up the intensity, keep working hard and having fun.”
First-year coach Kendra Reichert has enjoyed the Midas Touch in the early going and has great enjoyed the ride.
“I’m really proud of the girls and what they did today,” Reichert said. “They really put everything together. Really for the first time all season. They chose a good game to do that. When Emily comes out and makes her first or second shot, I know she’ll have a good game. I was impressed with her effort. We limited our turnovers tonight. CM is a great rebounding team. Boxing out was a big factor.
“It’s been amazing and a lot of fun. I know that we had to get these wins. We had big games on the road. A lot of teams are picking up players at the break. We don’t plan to. So, next semester will be completely different with everyone we see. It’s a great start to the season. We need to improve on keeping the intensity level up the entire game. We still have things we need to work on defensively.”
SMCC finally came back to reality Saturday with a 61-32 loss to Briarcliffe, N.Y. Welch led the way with 11 points.
The Seawolves are idle until Jan. 4 when they host Rochester (Mich.) College.
The SMCC men are 2-6 in conference, 6-8 overall. They are seventh in the YSCC at the break.
Last Wednesday, against longtime rival CMCC, the Seawolves put forth a valiant effort but dropped their fifth game in six outings, 96-87.
The Mustangs shot to an 8-0 lead and went ahead by as many as 16, 30-14, before SMCC rallied the 3-point shooting barrage of Josh Mackie. Mackie’s 3-ball with 2:16 to go in the first half didn’t just cut the deficit to 43-35, but put him over the 1,000 point mark for his college career, becoming the 16th player in program history to reach that milestone.
“I never thought I’d do it,” Mackie said. “It means a lot me. It means a lot to Coach. He’s a big reason I got it. I respect him a lot.”
“(Josh is) an awesome kid,” Seawolves coach Matt Richards said. “It’s very emotional.”
The Seawolves were down seven at the start of the second half and soon found themselves behind 62-51, but again, they rallied. Mackie continued to sizzle from the outside and when Emmanuel Donalson converted an old-fashioned three-point play with 6:58 remaining made it a one-point contest, 74-73.
SMCC would draw no closer, however and CMCC hit its free throws down the stretch to prevail, cutting the Seawolves’ all-time series lead to 57-43.
“I was hoping we’d be able to handle the emotional runs,” Richards said. “CM does such a good job in transition. They can score in bunches.”
Mackie finished with 28 points on eight 3-pointers.
“We came prepared to play,” Mackie said. “We wanted to come out and make sure we were ready to go. It was a big game. We had a great effort. I was just feeling it. I had the ball and I was just open a lot. I was surprised I had so many open looks.”
“It was a great game for our kids to learn to play in that environment,” Richards added. “I was pleased with our effort. We cut it to one and I felt we were right there to turn the corner, but CM did a good job with their older players and their experience.”
Anderson Santana stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, 16 rebounds, five assists and a pair of blocked shots. Donalson added 14 points and Jake Loveridge had 12.
The Seawolves capped the first semester in style Friday with a 100-34 home rout of Lakes Region CC. Every player on the team scored. Chance Baldino had a team-high 20 points. Nate Dow added 15 and Santana wound up with 13 points, nine boards, six steals and four assists.
“We rebounded well,” Richards. “It was a little anti-climactic, but we came away with a victory.”
SMCC looks to carry over its momentum to the second half of the season which begins Jan. 4 when it hosts Rochester College.
“It’s good for our kids to get a little mental break,” Richards said. “We’ll get refocused and healthy. I feel good about our team. Hopefully we have good things to come.”
The SMCC-CMCC rematch is Feb. 8 in Auburn.
Emmanuel Donalson has come to SMCC from New Jersey and has provided many highlights for the Seawolves in the first half of the season.
Hanna Lyons (with ball) has helped spearhead the Seawolves’ attack this winter, getting plenty of help from Katelyn Benson (left) and Kristal Saavedra.
Josh Mackie scored his 1,000th career point during SMCC’s loss to CMCC last week.
Dan Foster has provided key minutes and leadership for the Seawolves.
Joe Jardine is another player who’s played a key role for SMCC this winter.
Emily Bard came up huge in SMCC’s big win over rival CMCC last week and is one of a roster full of players who had huge performances for the Seawolves during their first semester surge.
More photos below.