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ON CAMPUS A look at the area college sports scene

Monday, October 31, 2011

Gateway basketball teams have promise and potential

NEW HAVEN — The Gateway Community College men’s basketball team is hoping to draw from the championship laurels of a pair of former Bridgeport Central stars this season.
Gateway, which went 9-15 last season, losing in the conference semifinals, will feature Mario Darden and Jerome Parkins as it guns for a national crown. The duo have already won a state title while with the Hilltoppers.
Now here’s the catch. Parkins helped pace Bridgeport Central to the Class LL title in 2010 when he scored a team-high 19 points in a 78-66 win over Hillhouse.
Darden did the trick seven years earlier as the Hilltoppers edged Notre Dame-West Haven for the same title in 2003.
Age difference aside, the pair bring a bevy of experience and talent to the Lions attack.
“Mario’s like my older brother,”
See Gateway, D3
Parkins said. “He’s good and it’s great to play with him.”
Parkins was ranked as one of the state’s top recruit by MaxPreps.com in his senior year. He spent a year of junior college in Kansas before returning to the state.
“What I want to do is play well here and get my academics in order and then get a shot at a Division I or Division II school,” Parkins said.
Gateway coach John Stewart said he has all the tools to do it.
“He’s going to be the man,” Stewart said. “He’s realy good. He can do it all out there.”
Stewart has a history of bringing in big talent to the school. Keeping them there is a difficult task.
“We can be real good but the second semester is always important,” shooting guard Dan Litevich said. “The guys have to keep their grades up and work hard. It’s really important for the team.”
Litevich, from Branford, who combined with Darden averaged 25 points a game last year and including 106 3-pointers, said it’s probably the most important of all aspects of the team.
With Darden directing things, he could be right.
“I’ve never seen anyone take the ball from him,” Litevich said.
Said Darden: “We could be real good. We have the players to go for a national title and that’s what I want.”
While Parkins, who averaged nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds a game in his senior year at Bridgeport Central which finished 28-0, is just 6-3 he may see time under the boards as the Lions are particularly small this year. But Darden said that Gateway’s speed and tenacity easily makes up for lack of height.
“We’re always the fastest team around so we’re not worried about rebounding,” Darden said. “We score a lot of points and we do OK on the boards.”
The Lions have a deep roster including Hyde’s Damion Gray and Wilbur Cross’ Ken Gilmore.
Numbers have been a problem for the Lions’ women’s team lately. With a small roster Gateway went just 1-9 last year. They enter the 2011-12 season with nine players, all freshmen, but high hopes.
“You have to be confident,” guard Shontea Brown said. “We have the heart and the dedication. We’re trying our hardest to keep everyone up.
“We’re going to be pretty good. I’m hoping we all stay together as one and put up some big numbers.”
Like the men’s squad, the Gateway women’s team is small and hopes to outrun the opposition.
Meriden’s Alaina Holloman, a 5-11 center is the lone player over 5-5.
“I’ll be all right rebounding,” she said. “I just have to stay out of foul trouble. We have a lot of potential.”
Jamie Baker, a 5-4 guard from Hillhouse, should help on the offensive end of the court.
Contact Bill Cloutier at 203-789-5653. Follow Bill on Twitter @BillCloutier. To receive breaking news first, simply text the word nhsports to 22700. *Msg & Data Rates May Apply. Text HELP for help. Text STOP to cancel.

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