Friday, April 18, 2014
STANDISH — The Bonny Eagle High parking lot is filling up fast on this Tuesday night. It can mean only one thing: The boys’ basketball team and its standout guard, Dustin Cole, are in action.
Doesn’t matter that Dustin Cole of Bonny Eagle is just 5-foot-9. Doesn’t matter at all. He finds a way to get open, whether for his own shot or finding a way to get the ball to open teammates.
Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer
With a good chunk of his junior season remaining to be played, Dustin Cole already has 1,000 career points, including 50 in a game last week against Kennebunk.
An hour and 45 minutes before thte opening tip, one side of the parking lot is nearly full.
“This is typical,” said Kyle Hodsdon, the athletic director. “It doesn’t matter what night, who the opponent is or the weather, people have followed this group of players for the last few years.”
And Cole is the star attraction.
Undersized at 5-foot-9, Cole is not afraid to take the ball inside. He gets to the basket with his assortment of moves, quickness and jumping ability. He can score in a variety of ways with his ballhandling creating openings. But best of all, he’s unselfish and looks to set up teammates for baskets. Cole has improved his range and shot selection each season. He can dunk.
Against Windham that night, Cole, 17, made a couple of 3-pointers from well behind the arc. One time he looked trapped in the corner with two defenders on him. One spin move off the dribble and Cole had a clear path to the basket. Bonny Eagle fans have come to love his dynamic play.
Packed gyms in small towns throughout the state have long been part of the lore of Maine high school basketball. The chance to watch the high-scoring guard or gunner have filled gyms in such places as Bath, Rumford, Westbrook, Millinocket, Van Buren, Waldoboro and other places through the years.
The fans of Buxton, Standish, Hollis and Limington, the towns Bonny Eagle draws from, now flock to watch this unassuming player put on a show.
His AAU coach, Mike Woodbury of MB Nation, said if you lined up Cole with other high school students against a wall and were asked to pick out the 28.5-point per game scorer, you would be hard-pressed.
“He looks like your typical high school student,” said Woodbury.
That is, until he has a basketball in his hands.
SMAA opponents must wonder how this baby-faced junior can do some of the things he does. He’s been doing it for the past three seasons, so well that Cole blew past 1,000 career points Friday night with 50 against Kennebunk. He scored a then career-high 42 points earlier in the season. On Monday, Cole scored 28 points in an 82-77 loss to South Portland in double overtime.
Cole has a strong supporting cast with seniors C.J. Autry and Jon Thomas, and sophomore Ben Malloy. With the now-graduated Cole Libby, the Scots lost to Deering, the eventual state champion, on a last-second shot for the Western Class A championship last season.
Mike Morong, who has taught social studies at Bonny Eagle Middle School for 37 years, keeps the scorebook at home games. He has the unofficial title of “Mr. Bonny Eagle.” Morong attends every basketball and football game, home and away.
He still gets a chuckle, remembering Cole’s first game at Deering.
“They were wondering who this little kid was,” said Morong. “Deering had this vaunted backcourt. Dustin looked like the water boy. He still looks like a kid. He scored seven points and we upset Deering. I think it was the last time Dustin was in single digits.”
Morong said the community always has supported the high school basketball team but admits there’s a little more buzz with this team.
“They’re fun to watch,” said Morong. “They don’t have any big guys (Autry is the tallest starter at 6-foot-2). They shoot the 3-pointer and all the players get along. I’ve seen a lot of players and Dustin’s the most exciting of any.
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