AUBURN — An impressive 6-1 start from a talented team capable of winning a conference title makes coach Dave Gonyea grin and brim with confidence in the Mustangs.

The Central Maine Community College men’s basketball skipper is proud of where his team is heading in the Yankee Small College Conference this season.

“Feeling really good, great attitudes,” Gonyea, who has been coaching the Mustangs men’s team for the past 28 years, said. “(Players) are good in the classroom (and) work hard on the court. (They) are great together, play well together, good chemistry — which I think results in winning.”

The Central Maine Community College men’s basketball team practices Tuesday at the school’s gym in Auburn. The Mustangs have started the 2022-23 season by winning six of their first seven games. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

The Mustangs are doing a lot of that this season. Their only loss is a 78-63 setback against Northern Essex Community College on Nov. 5. They enter Thursday’s home matchup with NHTI on a four-game winning streak.

CMCC has already engineered a few hard-fought wins, in which its talent and depth were on display.

Against conference foe University of Maine at Augusta last week, the Mustangs escaped with a 97-91 overtime win despite Boston Caldwell, a 6-foot-6 big man out of Auckland, New Zealand, leaving the game at halftime with a wrist injury. DeMarco McKissic, a 6-foot-5 sophomore center from Laconia, New Hampshire, stepped it up on the floor, scoring 31 points and pulling down 16 rebounds.


The Mustangs also came out on top, 84-83, in another squeaker against Great Bay Community College in their conference opener two days earlier. Leavitt Area High School graduate Wyatt Hathaway, who transferred to CMCC this year from St. Joseph’s College, scored 14 points and hit a key 3-pointer to slow down Great Bay in the beginning of the second half. Michael Connolly, a freshman from Westbrook, contributed 17 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in that victory.

Connolly also tipped in a missed shot with 2.9 seconds remaining to give CMCC a 74-73 win over Roxbury Community College on Oct. 30,

The Mustangs are averaging 80 points per game and shooting 45.3% from the floor in their first seven games. They’re outrebounding opponents by an average of 12 boards per game, and holding teams to 38% shooting, including 29% on 3-point attempts.

“I think this team has the capability of winning a Yankee championship,” Gonyea said. “I haven’t said that in a few years, but I think we do.

“They pass the ball so well together and play so well together. They believe in each other, trust each other — all those things you talk about … and every team has a piece of what I am just talking about, and this team has a lot of those pieces. Everybody is very united and very together.”

Gonyea said it helps to have a player like McKissic, who can dominate inside with his height and brawn, along with newcomers making important contributions.


“We have another big guy about 6-foot-8 — Michael Connolly from Westbrook, who’s a freak athlete, just a great athlete and we have some shooters around,” Gonyea said. “Wyatt Hathaway is here from Leavitt. He is a big piece of what we are doing. He shoots the ball well. He’s a gamer. He is terrific.

“We surround those guys with a lot of good players. Every team has got good players. We are lucky that our good players all bought into our system and they trust the system. We call it trusting the process. I feel like we are on the right path to move forward with that.”

Gonyea said Jaeden Henderson of Hermon High School, the team’s point guard, has “developed very well.”

CMCC men’s basketball coach Dave Gonyea claps as he gathers his team at the start of practice Tuesday in Auburn. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Also showing promise is Cam Pollock, a freshman guard from Manchester, New Hampshire.

“(Pollock) does a great job of handling the ball,” Gonyea said. “He shoots the ball well.”

The New Zealand contingent of big men, including Caldwell and 6-foot-5 center Josh Thompson, fortify the Mustangs’ defense and offense.

Other local talent includes sophomore guard Keegan Pitcher, a Mountain Valley graduate, freshman guards from Lewiston Donovan Jackson and Malik Foster, and Ring Ring — a forward/center from Lisbon who played for both Lisbon and Lewiston high schools.

“We have all the pieces it takes to be successful,” Gonyea said. “We’ve got size. We can shoot it. We can handle it. We can press it. (But) more than anything else is the chemistry is more important. 

“When you work with people that you all are going in the same direction, and you really feel good about the people you work with, it makes you better.”

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