HAMILTON, ON – Saturday afternoon was both a day of firsts and lasts in 2021 for the McMaster Marauders basketball programs. It was the first afternoon games – filled with young kids and aspiring basketball players in the stands – of the season and the last home game at the Burridge Gym of 2021. They travel on the road to Sault. Ste. Marie for two days of games versus Algoma on Nov. 19 and 20 to end off the 2021 part of their calendar.
Saturday was an afternoon of career-highs for guards Mike Demagus and Sarah Gates. They both played a pivotal role in the men’s and women’s teams; victories over the Guelph Gryphons to improve to 3-1 on the season. McMaster’s men’s team sits third place in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) West Division while the women’s team is tied with Guelph in third in the West Division. Here’s how the games unfolded.
Women bounce back vs Guelph
Their Wednesday matchup in Guelph – a rematch of their epic overtime playoff game in 2020 – saw a Gryphons team come out hot and keep that lead. Veterans Burke Bechard (18 points, eight rebounds) and Skyla Minaker (13 points, six rebounds, three assists) led the way en route to an 82-54 win. McMaster meanwhile couldn’t keep up with Guelph’s strong shooting – most notably from three where Guelph shot 41.7 percent to McMaster’s 23.3 percent. The Gryphons also built their lead in the second quarter as Mac’s leading scorer Sarah Gates was in foul trouble.
On Saturday, the script had flipped somewhat as it was McMaster off to a hot start. The Marauders found their stroke from deep early as Gates, Mia Spadafora, Tori Rigas-Didomenico, Delaney Bourget and Amy Stinson all connected from beyond the arc during the game. The first half shooting was especially notable as the team went five-for-seven in the first quarter and five-for-eight in the second.
Gates – who’s averaging 28 points per game this year as their leading scorer – stayed out of foul trouble in the first half this time around and scored in a variety of ways and notched a double-double with 11 rebounds and 38 points. The game marked a career-high for her in points and assists (five).
She had help from first-year guard Bourget, who hit four-of-six from deep for 12 points. Meanwhile, a number of post players all saw significant minutes including Clare Sharkey, Jennah Taylor (who scored an emphatic putback and the ensuing free throw on a fast break), Stinson and Cassandra Joli-Coeur.
While Guelph made a comeback push in the fourth quarter, the Marauders were able to break their full court press, get to the free throw line and make their shots to ice away the 74-70 win.
Men Continue Winning Streak
Even since their season-opener loss to Lakehead, the McMaster men’s basketball have reeled off three straight victories. On Wednesday at Guelph, the team prevailed in a tight, high-scoring 123-121 affair that required overtime. Their depth in their mix of new and returning players continues to show.
That was the case on Saturday as well. After Guelph got off to an early 8-2 lead thanks to a couple of baskets by Rasheed Weekes, the Marauders came back and raced out to a double-digit advantage, one they wouldn’t relinquish, winning 92-82. They built a sizable lead before Guelph cut into a bit at the end.
The Marauders scored from both inside and out and were able to push the pace for fast break opportunities. Second-year guard Mychael Paulo flushed down a couple of dunks that brought the crowd to its feet. The Montana State and Williston State transfer also found teammate Mike Demagus for a dunk as well.
Demagus meanwhile had his own standout performance, leading the team with 26 points and also collecting two steals. It marked a career-high in points and field-goals made. His efficient shooting stands out as he shot three-for-eight from three and nine-for-14 from the field overall. The second-year Scarborough guard from Thornlea Secondary school has shown considerable improvement from his first season in 2019-20. His minutes, points, steals, blocks, rebounds, assists and impact on the game has gone up since then as he continues his role as a key contributor off the bench.
Jordan Henry had another strong game running the point with 17 points, four assists and three rebounds off his ability to drive the lane and finish or find open teammates. Paulo had 12 points, two steals and a block while fellow NCAA transfer Christian Bentley also had 12 points, two steals to go with five rebounds.
Featured Image: Mike Demagus (Rick Zazulak/McMaster Athletics)