STILL ON TOP: Bay College Men Dominate Delta

Click the thumbnails to see photos and videos, and to hear post-game comments from Escanaba native Connor Smale, and from Coach Matt Johnson.

ESCANABA---The Bay College Norse men's basketball team led from start to finish Saturday, beating the Delta College Pioneers out of the Saginaw area, 87-56, to stay undefeated in conference play. Six players scored in double figures for the Norse.


Bay took a 24-4 lead against the shorthanded Pioneers, and never had that lead cut below a dozen, allowing Norse Coach Matt Johnson to get all of his players onto the floor at the end of a grueling four-games-in-eight-games stretch.


“Our bench played well,” Johnson said. “Pretty good stat lines. Ryan Sweeney, who's not typically coming off the bench, was three-of-four from the field with five assists. Easton Clements had four rebounds in five minutes and two blocks (and a lay-up). That's an incredible stat line.”


“Connor (Smale) hitting three three's and four-of-four from the field and eleven points in ten minutes is huge. Molley Komara had a huge hustle-play for a block against a layup they should have had in transition. Guys played really, really well.”


For Smale, the Escanaba High School graduate playing in his hometown after his previous school, Finlandia University, closed last spring, it was great to be able to contribute to the team's latest victory.


“I feel happy,” Smale said. “Our guys executed the game plan today, and I'm really happy for the team. We were all creating baskets for each other, and we were all having a lot of fun out there, making some shots, playing good defense, and having a lot of fun. It's nice to see some shots go down. We've been working on our lay-ups in practice this week, and honestly, I'm just happy with our guys. We were focused in practice this week and we're getting better every day. I'm excited with what we can do.”


The starters did their job as well, with all five of them finishing in double fig, ures in scoring. Nic Williams, Kairee Gadson, and Joe Ofori all scored 15 points, while Baril Mawo added 12 points and Genesis Kemp chipped in ten points.


Bay led, 41-24, at halftime, and led by as many as 30 points (80-50) down the stretch.


The Norse shot 56-percent from the floor (33-of-59), made eleven of their 20 three-point attempts, sank 10-of-their 13 free throw attempts, and had 18 assists. On defense, the Norse had eight steals, and they blocked eight Pioneer shots.


“We did what we needed to do,” Johnson said. “I think we sustained the energy, too. We started off well, and finished well. That hasn't been easy for us to do. Hopefully we're rolling in the right direction.”


Delta College, suffering from injuries and low numbers overall, returned to suburban Saginaw with their fourth straight conference loss (0-4, 6-9 overall). The Pioneers were led by 17 points from Lewis Coville and 15 points from Ja'Von Blackwell.


For the Norse, they stay undefeated in MCCAA conference play with a 5-0 record, and they are now 18-2 overall, with the only losses coming in tight games with two national tournament teams: Milwaukee Community and Technical College, and Dakota County (Minn.) Technical College. It's the best 20-game start in modern Norse basketball history, and they have won 44 of their last 51 basketball games.


The conference season continues on Wednesday with a game in Grayling against the last place Kirtland Community College Firebirds (0-10 overall, 0-4 MCCAA) before a showdown next Saturday afternoon against the second place Mid Michigan Lakers (12-6 overall, 4-1 MCCAA) in Escanaba.


“Hopefully we can have a packed house on Saturday,” Johnson said. “The crowds and the support have been great, and I remember how important it was last year for them to be here and how loud they were when Mid Michigan came here (the day the Norse won the MCCAA championship).”


Before that, though, the Norse travel to face Kirtland on Wednesday. Game time is 7:30, and it will be broadcast live on Maverick FM-106.3, and on-line at

LISTEN: Matt Johnson post-game comments
LISTEN: Connor Smale post-game comments