Stags basketball chops down Loggers in dominant victory at the David Wells Classic

Lucas Grandison HM '24 goes up for a contested layup against two Puget Sound defenders en route to the Stags dominant 82-48 victory over the Loggers. Courtesy: Aaron Gray
Lucas Grandison HM ’24 goes up for a contested layup against two Puget Sound defenders en route to the Stags dominant 82-48 victory over the Loggers. Courtesy: Aaron Gray

While many 5C students left campus for Thanksgiving break, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men’s basketball team was working hard to prepare for the 21st edition of the David Wells Classic.

The Stags obliterated the Puget Sound Loggers 82-48 Nov. 25 in the first game of the Classic, a tournament co-hosted by CMS and Pomona-Pitzer.

Unique to most tournaments, there is no championship game to end the Classic. Instead, a pool of teams came to compete — CMS, P-P, UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) and Puget Sound this year — in two games over Thanksgiving weekend without a semi-final or championship game.

The game began deadlocked — the Loggers matched the Stags offense with some high effort plays, knocking down a couple tough shots and beating CMS to a couple of rebounds. Three minutes into the contest with the Stags leading 9-7, CMS head coach Ken Scalmini called an early timeout.

This decision was an immediate game-changer, as after the break, the Stags sprinted out to a 17 point lead over Puget Sound thanks to a 15-0 scoring run. Center Rhett Carter CM ’23 was a key contributor to the CMS offensive charge with a pair of baseline jumpers and some powerful post moves inside. 

As the team continued to dominate, guard James Frye CM ’26 entered the game in the first half for the first time this season. The first-year took advantage of his opportunity, driving into the paint and finishing strong at the rim on one possession and hitting a three from the corner on the next — his first points of his collegiate career.

Frye gave all of the credit to his fellow Stags.

“I thought I was able to come in and help the team tonight because of my teammates’ endless support,” Frye said. “Even while I was out on the court, they continued to give me advice on how to improve offensively and defensively. I can’t thank them enough for their support and encouragement.”

The Stags went into halftime with a 49-21 lead, their largest of any game thus far, and in the second half, they refused to let up.

Justin Pratt CG ’23, who picked up a steal in the first half, continued to force turnovers and get to his favorable shooting spots on the court. He finished with the game with 16 points on an impressive 8 for 8 shooting. 

Pratt, who played arguably his best game of the season thus far, was proud of the tenacity his team displayed on both sides of the ball and looked forward to the second game of the tournament.

“The early energy on the defensive end really helped us get out to a lead,” Pratt said. “We are at our best when our defense is locked in leading to offense. I’m excited for another opportunity to play against [UCSC]. It’ll be great to play at home against another good team, and we look forward to building on the game against Puget Sound.” 

Following up his 37-point performance in a win over No. 2-ranked Mary-Hardin Baylor in the Stags’ first game, team captain and shooting guard Josh Angle CM ’23 took advantage of Puget Sound’s inability to handle CMS offensive strategy. The Stags implement a motion offense, which involves a continuous rotation of cuts toward the basket and screens to set up open shots. Angle shot over 50 percent from the field, leading all scorers with 18 points. 

After the game, Angle was visibly happy with the dominant victory.

“I think it was a great overall team win,” he said. “We came in with defensive intensity, and stringing together multiple stops in a row led us to get good looks on the offensive end. We had many different guys play important roles in tonight’s win, and having that depth will continue to help us down the line.”

CMS controlled the game from start to finish and concluded the tournament the following day with another dominant performance, taking down UCSC 63-49. 

The Stags stayed hot Wednesday as they began conference play with a 93-71 victory over Chapman, starting them off with a 1-0 conference record and bringing them to 6-1 overall. CMS will look to continue their winning streak when they host Occidental on Saturday.

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