Before the season, Bonny Eagle Coach Phil Bourassa said he was concerned about how freshman phenom Dustin Cole would handle the physical play of Class A basketball.

After all, Cole is 5-foot-7 and maybe 130 pounds soaking wet.

Seventeen games into the season, the Bonny Eagle coach’s concerns have been allayed.

“Physically, Dustin is still a freshman. He’s just a little guy, but it doesn’t matter,” said Bourassa.

That’s because Cole is so far advanced that he’s like an experienced senior, only better.

Cole scored 31 points Tuesday against Westbrook in a 60-44 win. He ranks second in the SMAA in assists, eighth in steals and eighth in 3-pointers.

“Dustin is very good at creating space for his shot off the dribble. He’s the best freshman point guard I’ve seen since I been around,” said Bourassa, who started following the league in 2000 as a freshman guard for Biddeford.

“He definitely makes us go.”

With a 14-3 record and the No. 2 ranking in Western Class A heading into tonight’s game against Windham, the program is having its best season since 1998, when the Scots had a 17-1 regular-season record.

Cole is averaging 14.0 points per game and has the best shooting percentage on the team.

“Anytime he’s open, he has the green light. Dustin is good off the dribble and can catch and shoot. He’s fearless driving to the basket but sometimes doesn’t get the calls I feel he deserves,” said Bourassa.

Cole plays basketball exclusively, but Bourassa said he would be good in any sport. Bourassa had Cole in the seventh and eighth grade in physical education classes at Bonny Eagle Middle School.

“Dustin set the middle-school record for the mile,” said the coach. “I think he could be an outstanding quarterback, but I’m hiding him. Anything we did in class, he was the best player. No one works harder. He’s a dedicated basketball player. I saw his talent in the seventh grade. During summer basketball last year I could tell Dustin was the real deal.”

Bourassa said Cole has improved his decision making as a point guard.

“He’s a good student and a great all-around kid.”

His teammates have welcomed Cole.

“Steve Simonds had been the main guy for two years and I kind of wondered how he would take it with Dustin’s presence, but Steve has taken everything in stride,” said Bourassa. “The combination of Simonds, Cole and Cole Libby has been great. I don’t think there’s a better defensive player in the league than Libby. And he’s been playing with a broken finger.”

“Cole is a tremendous player for such a young kid,” said Windham Coach Kevin Millington. “He has such great basketball instincts.” 

JAMES EK, Thornton Academy’s second-leading scorer, tore his ACL last week against Massabesic.

“James was driving to the basket, planted his foot going up and it went,” said Coach Bob Davies.

Davies said the team is losing a consistent scorer and one of the best shooters in the league. Ek, a senior, was averaging 15.7 points and is the SMAA’s second-leading 3-point shooter.

“This type of thing happens. The other kids have to be ready to play,” said Davies. “Everyone has stepped up. We’ve had to make adjustments.”

Thornton Academy is third in the Heal point standings.

“We want to finish in the top three,” said Davies. “To be honest, there are many games on the final night that can create movement. Hopefully we’ll stay in the top three.”

On Tuesday night, Adam Ek, James’ brother, made a three-quarter-length-of-the-court shot against Scarborough as the third quarter ended. The shot tied the game, and the Trojans outscored the Red Storm 9-7 in the fourth quarter to take a low-scoring victory, 33-31.

“The shot hit the backboard and hung on the rim before falling,” said Davies.

Scarborough hurt its chances by going 3 of 8 from the line in the fourth quarter.

NOMINATIONS ARE being sought for the Maine McDonald’s Spirit of the Game Award, given to two high school seniors who show the spirit of the sport and an ability to overcome obstacles and boundaries. Spirit of the Game nomination forms can be downloaded at www.mainemcdonaldsbasketball.org. For a nomination in the mail, call Kevin Mitchell at 755-9470, ext. 105. The deadline for nominations is Feb. 16.

Staff Writer Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at:

[email protected]