OSTERVILLE ─ Every once in a while there comes along a player who just simply stands out from the crowd.
Cape Cod Academy’s point man Johnny Hatem may very well have proved he is of that caliber Monday night as the talented senior paced the Seahawks to a solid 58-49 season-opening win versus the Sturgis West Navigators (0-1) in front of a lively crowd at the Thomas Evans Gymnasium.
Hatem poured in 24 points on the night including a pair of downtown treys in the second half, but it was his adept ball-handling and lightning fast defense that may have proved the true difference in the win. Hatem had six steals to go along with six assists and he went 4-6 from the charity stripe. Fellow starter Ned McCutcheon was the only other Seahawk to reach double digits with 10 points on the night. Aaron White had eight points and Seahawks’ big man Henry Zezze had seven.
“It’s always good to win,” said 2nd-year Seahawks’ head coach Tom Ferreira. “Sturgis West was a lot different team than what I saw in the summer league. I was impressed and I tip my hat to their coach (Kyle Erha).”
Even though Hatem and company controlled the rhythm and flow of the majority of the game, it was Sturgis West that took an early lead on a pretty Mike Mondello baseline three-pointer that made it 7-6 in the 1st quarter, but that lead would not last as the hosts stormed back to take a 10-9 advantage at the buzzer. It was a lead the Seahawks would not relinquish as Hatem, White and Zezze all seemed to work in unison on the fast break and the give and go buckets underneath. McCutcheon, however, proved invaluable down the homestretch as he scored eight of his 10 points in the second half.
Mondello was exceptional all-around for the visiting Navigators, but it was the subtle yet sure hand of the hot-shooting Konor O’Brien who opened some eyes and literally kept his teammates in most of the game. O’Brien, who came in off the bench, hit six straight field goals before he missed a shot and ended up going 6-9 from the floor and 2-2 from the free-throw line for a team-high 14 points on the night.
The scoring was fairly well spread out for Sturgis West with starter John Russell adding six points (all in the second half) and Sean Glynn coming off the bench for six points. The high-jumping starting forward John Ryan was also a big part of the effort with eight points and five rebounds.
Cape Cod Academy (1-0) established a four-point lead at the half, going up 23-19 and there was still plenty of room for Sturgis to narrow that deficit down, but Ferreira relentlessly pushed his Seahawks to ramp up their defensive effort and take the ball to the hole rather than rely solely on outside shooting. The Seahawks’ defensive effort – led in large part by Hatem but also Ben Horrigan and the brothers Siegel (Jacob and Ben) – changed the momentum of the game squarely in the host’s favor and by the end of the third quarter the Academy went up by nine points, 36-27.
“It was our first game so there were a little bit of first-game jitters,” Ferreira said. “But overall I was happy.”
Sturgis West starting point guard Max O’Hare buried a top of the arc three-pointer in the final minute of the affair but it was too little too late as the Seahawks simply would not slow down their fast-paced attack.
Cape Cod Academy plays its first seven games at home and next up is St. John Paul II on Wednesday night, followed by Nantucket on Friday. Sturgis West faces a tough Upper Cape Tech (2-0) team Friday afternoon at the Hyannis Youth and Community Center.
Cape Cod Academy (1-0) – 58
- Aaron White (8)
- Ned McCutcheon (10)
- Henry Zezze (7)
- Johnny Hateem (24)
- Jacob Siegel (1)
- Will McCutcheon (4)
- Ben Siegel (4)
Sturgis West (0-1) – 49
- Max O’Hare (3)
- John Russell (6)
- John Ryan (8)
- Conor Cameron (2)
- Mike Mondello (8)
- Konor O’Brien (14)
- Sean Glynn (6)
- Peter von der Heyde (2)
Sean Walsh/Cape Cod Broadcasting Media Sports. His email is [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @coachwalshccbm.