It was a rare occurrence when the Gillette College men’s basketball team didn’t score when it had the ball Saturday night.
The Pronghorns hosted Providence College’s JV to wrap up the Holiday Inn Express Classic, and dominated from the start.
The Pronghorns (10-1) already had a 22-4 lead 6 minutes into the game and kept their foot on the gas for lopsided 129-59 win at the Pronghorn Center.
“It was nice to get everybody in (to play). Everyone got good minutes,” Gillette coach Shawn Neary said. “Sometimes those games are hard, but you just have to work on something. It’s fun for them.”
The Pronghorns may have been itching to get back on the court. A tournament they were to play in last weekend was cancelled, meaning more practice.
“They hated it,” Neary said.
Saturday’s contest was basically over before it started thanks to the huge run out of the blocks. Sophomores Bradley Akhile and Mason Archambault both hit 3-pointers in the first minute and then the game turned into a track meet.
Gillette had 10 first-half steals to bust the game wide open and it was layup after layup for most of the game, with Akhile finishing off two alley-oop passes with layups and another one with a thunderous two-handed dunk.
Forty seconds later, sophomore Javen Gumber converted a 3-point play in the paint to complete the 22-4 run.
Gillette’s second unit entered the game near the 14-minute mark and sophomore Jayden Coke picked up where the starters left off by hitting two quick 3-pointers to make it 28-6.
At the other end of the court, Providence soon realized it was just outmatched athletically. Its only offense became heaving up 3-pointers, and the Argos didn’t have a 2-point basket for the final 12:45 of the first half.
Providence’s 3-point shooting kept the Pronghorns somewhat in reach and the lead had shrunk to 39-21 near the eight-minute mark. The deep shot stopped falling at the end of the half, though, and Gillette closed on a 16-5 run.
Freshman Gary Solomon started that run with four straight points, including a steal and one-handed slam on a break with 6 minutes left. Then sophomore Tarig Eisa nailed a trey 30 seconds later for a 47-21 lead.
Gillette went into the locker room leading 55-29 and things only got worse for Providence in the final 20 minutes.
Just like he did to start the game, Akhile set the tone in the first minute of the second half. He had two quick drives to the basket and the second one ended in a one-handed spike at the rim.
The Argos scored seven points in the first two minutes in an effort to keep pace, but then the Pronghorns put their foot down to spark a 17-0 scoring run. Nearly everyone got involved during that stretch, with six players scoring, and Gillette was rolling with a 79-33 lead with 13:25 remaining.
Providence finally scored again near the 12-minute mark, but freshman sharpshooter Teonta McKeithen had an answer ready for Gillette College. He nailed a pair of 3-pointers in a 20-second span, then Anthony Felisma rocked the rim on a fast break to stretch the lead to 50 at 87-37.
The Argos only had seven players dressed and Akhile said it was the Pronghorns’ goal to keep running and wear them out. The strategy paid off. Providence was exhausted for the final 10 minutes and Gillette’s offense turned into something resembling a dunk contest.
The first display came from McKeithen. It was such an open fast break that he and Jo Jones took a second to decide who would score. Jones backed off and McKeithen picked it up and casually rose for a windmill dunk to make it 91-39 with 9:50 on the clock.
The Pronghorns racked up six more dunks in the remaining time. Mushila had three in just over a minute, Jones had one and Coke one-upped McKeithen’s jam with an even better windmill dunk to push the lead to 121-52 with 2:32 remaining.
“It’s fun. When everybody is getting dunks, everybody is doing what they do at a high level, it’s fun,” Akhile said.
The 129-59 score line was the largest margin of victory for the Pronghorns this season.
McKeithen led Gillette with 23 points, including six 3-pointers. Mushila had 18 points on 9-11 shooting, Coke had 13 and Archambault finished with 11.
Akhile was Gillette’s most efficient player on the night, scoring 17 points on 8-9 shooting. Solomon finished with 11 points and 10 assists and Neary says he is “capable of that every night.”
Gillette nearly doubled up Providence in the rebounding category, 49-26. It also shot 48% from 3-point range and 67% from the field during the blowout.
The Pronghorns have three more games before the Christmas break, including a makeup game against Miles Community College at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Pronghorn Center.
“We’re clicking pretty good,” Archambault said. “We have to be playing our best basketball after Christmas. We’re almost there.”