LEWISTON, Maine — Adversaries on the court in a high-profile, historic high school rivalry, Chris Wilson and Alex Gallant are getting along just fine as teammates in college.
Wilson, a junior guard, starred for the Brewer Witches in high school and went head to head with Gallant’s Bangor Rams at least twice a season for three years.
It certainly shows up in the statistics.
Wilson is the team’s second-leading scorer with 10.0 points per game and one of two players to start all eight games. He is also Bates’ No. 2 rebounder — and the New England Small College Athletic Conference’s No. 10 — at 5.3 per game.
“Offensively, I’ve been able to get into the flow more and I love it,” the 6-foot, 175-pound Wilson said. “We’re trying to run an offense with the big guys down low and the guards out front, trying to play inside-out almost.
“I’d say I’m more involved because I have more of a duty to get the ball inside and then move off that to get a good outside shot if the big guys are double- or triple-teamed.”
So far this season, the junior guard has been the team’s top scorer three times and top rebounder once — and he’s still the team leader in assists at 4.0 per game. That stat ranks him seventh in the NESCAC.
Gallant is averaging 8.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, making him No. 3 on the team in both categories. He has earned five starts so far, but Gallant doesn’t seem to mind what role he fills as long as he can produce and help the team.
“It felt good to get some experience last year, but I’ve gotten a chance to play more this year,” Gallant said. “I have to make sure I play defense, rebound and take the shots I know I can make.”
Judging from his team-leading 53.7 shooting percentage from the floor, there aren’t too many he can’t make. He is currently the NESCAC’s seventh-leading shooter.
The 6-4, 210-pound sophomore forward has led the team in rebounds twice and points once. His best game of the season was a 16-point, nine-rebound effort in the season opener, a win against Wells College at home.
Gallant says if he wasn’t already highly motivated to work hard for playing time, the Bobcats’ overall team depth has also served as an incentive.
“Knowing you have to work harder than each guy or you’re not going to play is extra motivation,” said Gallant.
The Bobcats entered the holiday break 4-4 after evening their record with a nonconference win over Husson University of Bangor.
Rookie head coach Jon Furbush, a 2005 Bates alumnus who is the youngest NCAA Division III head coach in the country, has brought a revamped system and new emphasis with him.
“Coach has emphasized keeping on the move and keeping the defense moving because they’re going to be more tired by the time we burn that 20 seconds off the clock to get a good shot,” Wilson explained. “The emphasis is on defense the whole time and once that becomes automatic, our offense will feed off that.”
Both Gallant and Wilson are thriving in the new system.
“These kids are really smart with high basketball IQ’s. They had really good coaching in high school,” said Furbush. “They both see things before they happen.
“Those kids from Bangor and Brewer just get it.”