PORTLAND – Dustin Cole knows well before the opening tip whether he’s got it or not.
“I can tell in warm-ups, but I don’t want to give away the secret,” Cole said Wednesday night after scoring a game-high 23 points to lead Bonny Eagle to a 69-48 victory against Cheverus in an SMAA boys’ high school basketball game.
Limited to six points in the opening half, Cole, a point guard, put it together in the third quarter, scoring 15 points.
“I just wasn’t in a rhythm in the first half,” Cole said.
C.J. Autry filled the offensive void in the first half, scoring 12 of his 18 points in the second quarter as the Scots rebounded from an early deficit.
It was Autry’s 3-pointer early in the second quarter that provided a 14-13 lead, an advantage Bonny Eagle (6-1) never lost.
The Scots held a 29-20 advantage at halftime.
Cole, a 5-foot-9 junior, showed the Stags what he could do as the third quarter unfolded. Cole and Zach Dubiel scored baskets to open the period, giving Bonny Eagle a 33-20 lead.
The Stags (3-4) answered with back-to-back 3-pointers to close within seven. Cole then responded in dominant fashion, scoring 13 points in a 15-5 run that gave Bonny Eagle a 48-31 lead.
Cole finished the flurry with an impressive four-point play – draining a 3-pointer as he was being knocked to the floor, then adding a foul shot.
“I think one way or another he’s going to help us win,” said Bonny Eagle Coach Phil Bourassa. “If he’s not shooting well he somehow finds a way. Tonight he didn’t shoot well in the first half but he also didn’t really attack much. He wasn’t offensive-minded.”
Bourassa knows Cole well enough to understand that even when he doesn’t seem to be shooting perfectly, there’s rarely a need to present a challenge.
Bourassa usually just lets Cole work through his struggles, which more often than not has delivered positive results.
“For the most part he has such a good feel for the game that we’re always on the same page,” Bourassa said.
“I’ve known the kid since sixth grade and he understands the game better than most. He’s always trying to get the other guys going, too, which is important because we have some kids that can play.”
In the end it was Cole who put the game out of reach.
The Stags simply couldn’t match his performance, even though it was mostly limited to eight minutes of offensive production.
“We tried our darnedest (to shut down Cole),” said Cheverus Coach Dan Costigan.
“He just kept coming and he was a little more patient (in the third quarter). He was hanging on and shooting it, and he took over. I think he probably shot twice as many shots in the third quarter than he did in the first half.”
Brad Carney scored 16 points, including four 3-pointers, to lead Cheverus.