Feb. 27—NEW LONDON — There are many good reasons for Coast Guard Academy and Mitchell College to play a college basketball game. There is proximity, pedigree (both recent conference champions) and even a little serendipity: One has a Tyler Perez and the other a Tyler Peretz.
But what happened Saturday by the Thames River was more than a mere game. It was the byproduct of cooperation. The result of thankless, behind-the-scenes details. It was joyful. It was relief.
It was historic, too, for the Bears, who partook of their first ring ceremony before the game, commemorating last season's league championship. Coast Guard then punctuated the day with a 91-68 win, leaving all but a game next month against Merchant Marine between the Bears and an undefeated (albeit a two-game) season.
"I'm really grateful we had a chance to play," Coast Guard coach Kevin Jaskiewicz said. "We are really fortunate to have Mitchell, who is a great neighbor for us. Todd (Peretz, Mitchell's coach and interim athletic director) is doing a great job there. We've been trying to get this game in and they've been really willing to work with us.
"We've been really fortunate and I'm grateful to everybody at Mitchell. I'm grateful for our administration,(athletic director) Dan Rose and everybody here working really hard. I don't know if everyone understands how hard people have to work just to get one game in."
Jack Brunswick led Coast Guard with 21 points (10-for-10 free throw shooting), while Madison Maloney had 19 points and 11 rebounds. Garrett Drummond scored 13 and J.T. Cox had 11.
Elijah Baidoo and St. Bernard graduate Hunter Baillargeon had 16 apiece for the Mariners.
"I knew coming in here they're well coached," Peretz said. "Ring ceremony, senior day ... we talked about valuing this game as much as they would. It's something we always talk about when we play Coast Guard. We have to value this experience like they do because their lifestyle is much different than every other college athlete has.
"I think we did for a while. Then things didn't go our way and we resorted back to some selfish play. But it's great to be back playing. I wish we could have out up a better fight than this."
There was plenty of fight in Baillargeon, who made three 3-pointers off the bench.
"Hunter played very well," Peretz said. "He'll figure in for us. He's improved a little each year. A lot different than when he came to us. A catch-and-shoot kid out of high school. He's done a great job working on his perimeter skills."
Mitchell has potential games remaining with Albertus Magnus, St. Joseph and Connecticut College. Coast Guard has a one-game season now, March 13 at Merchant Marine.
"I'm already on to Merchant Marine," Jaskiewicz said with a wry grin about 15 minutes about this game ended. "That's the coach in you. We love it. It's been a year since I've coached in a game."