Machias Memorial High School senior James Mersereau was honored Monday evening after scoring his 1,000th career point during the Bulldogs’ 66-27 victory over Calais.
But it’s another phase of the game where the four-year varsity starter has made perhaps even more of an impact in helping coach Jim Getchell’s club build a 12-0 record good for first place in Class D North entering Wednesday night’s action.
“The big thing with James is he’s 6-4 and can handle the basketball,” said Getchell. “Any time you have a guy that size who can take someone one-on-one off the dribble and help you beat pressure it’s a big advantage.
“His ability to see the floor and handle the basketball helps a lot.”
Those skills are part of a perimeter game Mersereau focused on during the most recent offseason, in great part through playing with Fritz Marseille’s Black Bear North AAU team, a squad that featured a who’s who of rising stars in the region.
“Playing with such talent as Taylor Schildroth (of Blue Hill’s George Stevens Academy), (Schenck of East Millinocket’s) Justin Thompson and (Hermon’s) Keenan Marseille really changed the way I saw the game,” said Mersereau.
“It showed me that I needed to expand my range because I had been around the basket most of the time before. My jump shot has really come a long way.”
So, too, has his ballhandling, which has helped Machias overcome one of last year’s struggles — coping with full-court defensive pressure.
“One thing that killed us was getting pressed,” said Mersereau, also a four-year starting goalkeeper for the school’s soccer team. “but this year we’ve emphasized staying calm, setting up our press break and breaking the pressure and we’ve become very successful at that.”
Mersereau still can score, too, as evidenced by his 22-point performance against Calais. Entering the game needing 14 points for 1,000, he surpassed the milestone early in the third quarter with a layup off a feed from classmate John Massaad, who had just hustled to grab the offensive rebound of his own missed 3-pointer.
“It didn’t really catch my attention until this year,” said Mersereau of his 1,000-point potential. “I’m not a very selfish player, I’ve done a lot of scoring through offensive rebounding and creating baskets for myself but I’ve also picked up a lot of assists and I like to focus on that.
“But once I learned I was less than a hundred away a few games ago it sort of hit my radar and I’ve been scoring pretty efficiently since then, not for that reason but to win games because that’s my goal in the end.”
Bulldogs coach surpasses 100 wins
Mersereau’s 1,000-point feat isn’t the only milestone already reached within the Machias boys basketball program this season, as Bulldogs’ head coach Jim Getchell recently secured his 100th victory.
It’s been an efficient run for Getchell, in just his eighth season as the head coach at Machias.
He now has a career varsity coaching record of 103-42 heading into Thursday night’s game against Deer Isle-Stonington, good for a winning percentage of .710.
Machias is 47-6 since the start of the 2014-2015 season, with back-to-back trips to the Class D East-North semifinals the last two years and a 12-0 start this winter.