NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Knights Basketball win their home opener

On Wednesday November 3, 2021 the NECC Knights men’s basketball team had their home opener against UMaine- Augusta.

The players were practicing their shot before the game. I was there a hour early before tip off and both teams were already practicing. Even though this was their first game of the season it was big they were trying to do something that the 2017-2018 men’s basketball team accomplished, that was winning a game on opening night. 

Before the game I talked with the head coach, Darren Stratton and he told me that it is going to be a test. “With Umaine-Agusta there one of the top team out of there conference which they are a four-year school where they have junior, seniors that been playing together for a long time where we have a lot of freshmen so I think tonight is a good test…” Stratton said.

The first game of the season is going to be where this team is really at and how the Knights perform in the first game of the season it is going to determine how well they work together competing against other teams.

 He also mentioned “I expect a lot nerve I think I have a lot kids playing their first game first collegiate game… we have to fight through but as the game goes on I expect us to perform well tonight.” 

Sports Editor Jose Rodriguez, interviewing NECC basketball head coach. Photo by Bryan Thomas

Sports Editor Jose Rodriguez, interviewing NECC basketball head coach.

They had a big crowd watching and 115 people were in attended. NECC Athletic Director Dan Blair was announcing the starting lineup for both teams and then the national anthem.   

In the first period the Knights started the game strong they begin the game with a 12-0 run. They were leading 42-15 at the half. 

I had a chance to talk with coach Stratton after the game he told me “I think we played and we feed of our emotions and it carry us in our defense intensity the first half I feel that we had a lot of mistakes we made for it with our energy…” Stratton said.  Although the Knights had that big lead in the first period, they also had seven fouls against UMaine-Agusta.  

In the second period, which was the last period of the game they started slow and UMaine Augusta was taking advantage of the opportunities that the Knights didn’t capitalize. They outscored the Knights 51-36 in the second half. UMaine-Augusta came aggressive.

They had a different game plan in the second half to control the Knights. At one point in the game, it seems like UMaine-Agusta was going to take over the lead, but the Knights never gave up the lead thanks to a 12-0 run to begin the game back in the first period they had the lead for the entire game.

In the entire game overall, they had 17 fouls — seven in the first period and 10 in the second half. Some of the fouls that happened in the second period should not happened. They got sloppy and got lazy in the beginning of the period but as the second half progresses they got a little bit better.

  They also had 27 turnovers. They need to improve on the turnovers because if they don’t and they lose by a close game that’s going to be the reason why. It was just the first game of the season but as the season continues, I expected them to get better on the turnover and be a little more aggressive as they were in the first period.  

 According to, Philip Cunningham of Haverhill who played 28 minutes during the game he had 15 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steal and 4 assist to begin the 2021-2022 campaign. 

How important was having fans for the first time in two years since last year they weren’t fan in attended because of COVID?

“It felt pretty good after COVID I know a lot of people were struggling I know we had a lot of time in the gym, so we put on the work and we had good result,” Cunningham said.

Allowing fans back in the arena it gives fan excitement to cheer on their team and on top of that it helps fans to forget the hard time that happen with the virus as little by little everything is going to go back on the normality. He also mentioned “This is a big win this is a young team I’m probably youngest so it probably a big win for my first college game.” 

Most player’s on the team are new comers so this season there are a lot of new faces for the Knights basketball team.  That they are expected to perform well and every time they are in the court they are expected to win.  He was the star of the game leading on points, rebound and assist during the game.  

According to, Metin Yavuz of Istanbul, Turkey who played 19 minutes to begin the 2021-2022 campaign with 14 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steal and 0 assist.

I asked him about the second half “In the second half we couldn’t came up like what we wanted to as a team we could’ve done a better job but at the end we manage to win and that was the important thing…” Yavuz mentioned. Even though the second half it wasn’t productive like they wanted to but it was enough to get the win.