The night began with Dino Mallios, Gavin Mahoney, and Will Milano all hitting three-pointers. Dino struck again off a pretty feed from Mark Jenkins and the sky-walking Jake Connors swished a free throw to give Winthrop the first 12 points of the game.
The Vikings never took their feet off the accelerator and though Marblehead threatened to make a game of it, it was Winthrop in a landslide on opening night of what looks like a very exciting 2009-10 season.
The final score was Winthrop 72, Marblehead, 56, somewhat close on paper, but head coach Dave Brown could have reached for the century mark if he so desired.
Perhaps Brownâ€™s biggest challenge would have been giving the game ball to only one of his players because there were many deserving candidates:
– Mark Jenkins was simply sensational and finished as the Vikingsâ€™ leading scorer with 17 points. Taking advantage of some open space in the offense, Jenkins had his long-range game working well and also made some nice passes to teammates cutting through the lane.
– Dino Mallios, with just two days of practice under his belt due to an ankle injury, showed why he has a full ride to St. Anselm College. The 6-foot guard had 15 points and 10 rebounds, saving his best for a court-length drive to the hoop and a left-handed shot off the backboard. He and the other starters had the game under lock and key by the end of the third quarter.
– Jake Connors scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a strong performance as the Vikingsâ€™ big man.
– Gavin Mahoney gets the nod as the player of the game for those who love to watch a playmaker dominate the proceedings. Mahoney had eight points, but it was his 11 assists that took the heart out of the Marblehead defense. The Winthrop players were constantly moving without the ball and Mahoney was finding them.
The Winthrop bench also kept the pressure on the Magicians. Robert Swanson delivered on his specialty, the three-point shot, and also swished two free throws. Michael Griffin displayed an improved game, contributing seven points, including a conventional three-point play.
Marblehead coach Wayne Hanscom, a former ace backcourtman himself at Somerville and Salem State, credited the Mahoney-Mallios duo for their all-around performance.
â€œThey have two of the best guards in the league in Mahoney and Mallios,â€ said Hanscom. â€œTheyâ€™ve been playing together for awhile. Theyâ€™re real good passers. Theyâ€™re under control and they donâ€™t force things. Theyâ€™re clever â€“ really smart players who understand the game and theyâ€™re very unselfish which is what you look for in guards.â€
David Brown was pleased with his teamâ€™s 32-minute gem.
â€œWe played very well,â€ said Brown. â€œMark Jenkins had a very good game. Jake Connors also had a great game. Eleven assists by Gavin is tremendous. You canâ€™t go wrong with Mahoney and Mallios in the backcourt. I wouldnâ€™t trade them for anyone. You have a kid that can score and someone who can handle the ball. They both rebound well and play defense. Itâ€™s nice to have that.â€
Jenkins was immense late in the first half. In the final four minutes after Marblehead had closed the gap to 25-19, Jenkins made four free throws, finished off a pass from Mahoney for a bucket and drew a foul (for a 3-point play), and then hit two three-pointers. Mallios added a free throw and Winthrop took a 38-22 lead into the lockerroom.
Marbleheadâ€™s table for the Gatorade container is known as the â€œHydration Station.â€
Jake Connors, who jumped 6-5 in the outdoor track season, appeared to be lining up a dunk but a Marblehead player fouled him on the way to the bucket. Itâ€™s only a matter of time before Connors gets a Dr. J. (Julius Erving) moment.
Santiago Opsina and Quinton Dale each had a basket for the Vikings. If you recognized the name, Quinton Dale, he is the son of former Northeastern University basketball star Quinton Dale, who played on some great Huskiesâ€™ team with the late Reggie Lewis, who went on to play for the Boston Celtics. The 6-foot-8-inch Dale helped NU reach the Big Dance and once had 15 field goals in a game against Maine.
Winthrop center Anthony Hatzisavas has received the go-ahead from his physician to begin practicing with the team. The 6-2 junior sat out the opener and has been bothered by a back injury.
The Vikings play Swampscott Friday and host Danvers Monday.