By: Dr. Richard Midcap, President
Lakers take down Niagara in battle of nationally ranked teams
McHENRY – Ariel Watson sparked Garrett College on both ends of the court Saturday night, scoring a team-high 19 points and notching 7 steals, as the host Lakers held off visiting Niagara County Community College, 90-80, in an NJCAA Division II match-up of nationally ranked men's basketball teams.
Ray Hinton added 16 points and David Walls chipped in 13 as Garrett completed a weekend sweep of its two David K. Martin Classic contests. Simun Kovac – who pulled down a game-high 22 rebounds – and Ely Camp each added 12 points as the 13th-ranked Lakers (5-0) took down their 15th-ranked opponent.
"That's easily our toughest test so far," Garrett head coach Dennis Gibson said of the Niagara contest. "I think they're definitely a national contender. They've lost a couple of games, but they're very, very talented."
The high-intensity game featured two on-court skirmishes that resulted in five player ejections. Three Lakers – Camp, Marin Lisica, and Cross Steplowski – were ejected and will sit out Tuesday's night's 7 p.m. conference opener against visiting Hagerstown Community College (0-5 overall, 0-2 Maryland JuCo).
Gibson, meanwhile, praised Kovac's latest rebounding clinic.
"I expect him to be very aggressive on the boards, including on the offensive boards, but 22 boards is pretty darned amazing," Gibson said of Kovac, who was coming off a 17-rebound effort a night earlier against Mercyhurst North East.
Donel Cathcart scored a game-high 20 points for Niagara, which also received 17 points from Najee Scott and 16 from Latterance Reed. The Thunder Wolves, who fell behind 45-36 at the half, dropped to 2-3 on the season.
Mercyhurst North East edged Potomac State, 84-82, in Saturday night's other Martin Classic men's contest as Dalvin Hough sank a game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds. Potomac State dropped an 81-63 decision to Niagara a night earlier in its Classic opener.
Garrett 81, Mercyhurst North East 72
Samuel (6 rebounds, 3 assists), Watson (4 rebounds, 2 steals), and Camp (5 rebounds, 3 assists) were joined in double figures by Simun Kovac, who finished with 13 points and a game-high 17 rebounds. Ray Hinton (9 points, 4 rebounds) just missed double digits while Liutauras Repsys and David Walls each added 7 points.
Garrett galloped off to a 55-29 halftime lead to take control of the contest.
Garrett 103, Alderson Broaddus JV 67
Ray Hinton (12 rebounds) and Simun Kovac (11 rebounds) each scored 14 points while recording double-doubles. Nelson Richardson was the fifth Laker in double figures with 12 points while David Walls (9 points), Liutauras Repsys (8 points, 4 rebounds), Jermaine Samuel (7 points, 6 rebounds), and Marin Lisica (6 points, 8 rebounds) each made significant contributions.
Camp finished with a game-high 7 assists as Garrett recorded 27 assists on 44 made baskets.
While Alderson Broaddus only brought five players to the game, the Battlers had to be relieved that Johnson was one of them. He made 19-of-37 field-goal attempts, including 6-of-13 from beyond the arc, and sank 12-of-16 free throws on the way to his 56 points. His four teammates combined to shoot 4-for-21 from the field.
"He was hitting fall-down shots, half-court shots, you name it," Garrett head coach Dennis Gibson said of Johnson's offensive heroics. "I was clapping for him – if you can make those shots, the heck with it."