PITTSFIELD — The Maine Central Institute postgraduate basketball team is off to a quick start this season, and the reason is simple.
“Most of the guys have a good basketball IQ,” said fifth-year head coach Dave Campbell. “They understand how to play, they get along, and they share the basketball.”
That’s enabled the Postgrads to average 85.6 points per game during their 7-1 start heading into Wednesday night’s game at New England Prep School Athletic Conference in-state rival Bridgton Academy.
“We try to make it simple, we don’t try to complicate things,” said Campbell, whose team is shooting 48 percent from the field and 78 percent from the free-throw line. “We run a basic man-to-man defense and we run basic offenses, we just try to do them well. The biggest thing is we want them to play hard and to take care of the basketball.”
MCI’s 11-man roster features considerable balance, with four players scoring in double figures led by Rafael Maia, a 6-foot-8 power forward from Sao Paolo, Brazil, who is averaging 17.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per contest.
Other starters are Khristian Smith, a 6-5 forward from Indianapolis, Ind., who has verbally committed to Indiana State; Neal Beshears, a 6-7 forward from Winchester, Ind.; Daishon Knight, a 6-1 points guard from Baltimore, Md., and either Adam Thoesby, a 6-5 guard from Henley-on-Thames, England, or Ivan Filipan, a 6-4 guard from Sint-Oedenrode, Holland.
Top substitutes include 6-4 guard Omari Grier of Erial, N.J., Adrian Rodgers, a 6-4 guard from Atlanta, Ga., and Ryen Vilmont, a 6-5 forward from Hamden, Ct.
“It’s an adjustment period for them,” said Campbell. “The biggest difference for them this year is the physical play, the speed of the game and understanding how hard they have to play.”
MCI is coming off a weekend during which it won its own MCI Classic by defeating Redemption Christian Academy of Troy, N.Y., 72-61 in Saturday’s first round and then edging Notre Dame Prep of Fitchburg, Mass., 86-85 in Sunday’s championship game at Wright Gymnasium on a tip-in by Beshears with five seconds left in overtime.
“It was a very good weekend for us,” said Campbell. “We played two very good teams and the kids played well.”
After facing 4-2 Bridgton Academy, the schedule doesn’t get easier for the Postgrads, who will trek to Wolfeboro, N.H. on Friday and Saturday for the Brewster Academy tournament. The host school in that event is the top-ranked team in the country in the National Prep School poll, while other entries are Notre Dame Prep and Tilton (N.H.) School.
MCI then makes a quick trip home to face NEPCAC rival South Kent (Conn.) at 1 p.m. Sunday before hosting Lee Academy in a non-conference game at 4 p.m. Wednesday to round out the team’s pre-Christmas schedule.