Violette’s 39 lift CMCC past SMCC

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AUBURN – There’s a wall of fame outside the Kirk Hall gymnasium, one that celebrates at least a half-dozen Central Maine Community College men’s basketball players who developed themselves into All-Americans or national champions.

Kaleb Violette doesn’t have a plaque yet, but CMCC coach and athletic director Dave Gonyea might as well place the order. Violette already might be the best of the bunch, by a bunch.

Violette erupted for 39 points Thursday night — well shy of a career high, if you’re wondering — and staked CMCC to a convincing 90-77 victory over Southern Maine Community College.

“They’re our biggest rival in the state by far,” said Violette. “We lost to them (74-70) down at their place in December, so this feels good.”

CMCC (12-8 overall, 9-2 Yankee Conference) has undergone a facelift since dropping the first half of the home-and-home series.

Matt Wheelock, a 6-foot-10 center and former Hall-Dale High School star, joined the team for second semester. Freshmen David LaBonte of Lewiston and Nate Damm of Winthrop have continued their adaptation to the junior college game.

With co-captains Violette and Jon Gilson already locked into the all-conference discussion, the Mustangs display a confidence and completeness they haven’t enjoyed in a year or two.

“People think it’s all Kaleb,” said Gonyea, “but we do a pretty good job getting him the ball.”

And Violette returns the favor. Gilson was one beneficiary, draining four relatively open 3-pointers on his way to 17 points.

LaBonte also lit it up from outside, producing his entire 10 points in the second half. Wheelock worked in eight points around foul trouble. Damm dropped in seven.

Violette scored 50 in one game last winter. He is averaging 26 points and 13 rebounds per night this winter, numbers that are down a bit due to the enhanced supporting cast.

“I have a good team around me,” Violette said. “We have great team chemistry right now.”

CMCC has avenged both its conference losses in less than a week. The Mustangs knocked off New Hampshire Technical Institute at home last Friday.

The Seawolves (14-7) led briefly before CMCC churned out 11 unanswered points, all but two by Violette and Gilson, to grab a 15-6 lead.

That disparity grew to 33-14 at the end of another 8-0 surge, capped by two Violette buckets in a span of 12 seconds. It was 40-31 at the half.

Mike Worster knocked down one of his five 3-pointers to cut the Mustangs’ lead to 42-37 with 17:36 remaining. The Mustangs kept feeding Violette in the paint, however, and his traditional 3-point play and another inside hoop restored a double-digit lead that never disappeared.

“One on one, he is almost unstoppable,” Gonyea said.

Worster steered the Seawolves with 21 points. James Liebowitz added 18, Travis Tatro 14 and Kyle McKague 11.

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