Aguilar lifts Mount over Canarsie

Mount’s Peter Aguilar goes to the hoop for two of his game-high 39 points. Photo by Damion Reid

Tom Fraher loves Christmas, he just hates the break.

“We need to be on a schedule,” the Mount St. Michael coach said. “During vacation there’s too much dead time. When we’re in school, we’re much better. I’m glad we’re back to a regular routine Monday morning.”

The Mountaineers shook off first-half cobwebs to overcome a five-point halftime deficit and beat Canarsie, 79-53, at the Aviator Winter Clash in Brooklyn Saturday afternoon.

Junior swingman Peter Aguilar led the way, scoring 27 of his game-high 39 points in the second half after some early struggles from the perimeter.

“I let the game come to me and when I let the game come to me my offense starts to get better and better,” Aguilar said.

Because most of the players weren’t able to get to the school for practice on New Year’s Eve – the snowstorm KO’d the bus most of the players take – the Mountaineers ended up with three days off heading into their first game of 2010.

That sluggishness showed as they sleepwalked through the first half. If not for the play of power forward Gary Acquah (18 points), Mount’s deficit at the half would have been much worse than 36-31. The Chiefs were led by Kevin Scott (17 points), Kyle Loadholt (10 points) and Aaron Butcher (10 points).

“Call it whatever you want, but we were not ready to play,” Fraher said. “We didn’t play with any type of intensity. I kind of sent a message at halftime and we played much better in the second half.”

The message was received. Mount went on a 21-2 run and outscored Canarsie (2-5), 29-10, in the third quarter, taking a 14-point lead into the fourth quarter.

“We came out strong out of halftime,” Acquah said. “Coach got on us about defense. We had to work hard and take control of the game with our defense.”

Strong defense led to transition opportunities and that’s where Aguilar thrived Saturday. Despite missing some early 3-pointers, the budding star got to the basket and the foul line.

“We tell him all the time, there’s going to be nights he’s not going to shoot it well,” Fraher said. “He always thinks he’s going to shoot 80 percent and he puts a lot of pressure on himself. True scorers find a way to get to the foul line, they find a way in transition. That’s what he’s been able to do.”

And in the second half, Aguilar got into a groove, so much so he had no idea he scored 39 points before being lifted from the game with 3:02 remaining in the fourth quarter.

“I did? Oh wow. I didn’t know that,” he said. “I don’t care how much I score. It’s just what I do during the game to help my team get better.”

With school resuming Monday, Mount begins its critical second half of the regular season, including a huge league game against rival Cardinal Hayes Friday night.

“This is the part of the season we’re all looking forward to, a lot of competition,” Acquah said. “We’re just going to try and keep rolling.”

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