Ed Correa isn’t Pete Aguilar, but on Thursday he played him on TV.
The 6-foot-2 senior wing, a transfer from Rice, scored 15 points in his Mount St. Michael debut, helping lead the Mountaineers to a season-opening 75-42 win against Hempstead in a game broadcast on MSG Varsity.
Correa is filling the void left by Aguilar, who graduated as the all-time leading scorer at Mount and is now at Long Island University. He’s even wearing Aguilar’s No. 21.
“Peter told me a few weeks ago I better represent the number well. I’m trying to do that,” Correa said. “So far it’s been good. They treat me like it’s Rice. I adapted to this. It feels great to be here.”
Mount coach Tom Fraher said Aguilar was a little more versatile than Correa, but senior point guard Malik Gill said he could see similarities between the two.
“He fits into the system perfectly,” Gill said. “He can guard multiple positions, he’s a good shooter, solid scorer and a smart player.”
On Thursday, Correa was dangerous from 3-point range, but then again so was just about everyone else wearing a Mount uniform. The Mountaineers knocked down three consecutive 3-pointers to open the game and raced out to a 17-5 lead.
“We can make shots,” Fraher said. “When Gill plays under control, when he gets in the lane and makes good decisions, we’re tough.”
Last year, Clarence White was one of the Mountaineers top shooters and Andrew Utate, who scored a team-high 18 points, is taking his spot.
“We brought him up last year and he did see some playoff time,” Fraher said. “Andrew is a good shooter, he can be streaky at time, but he’s got skills. He can pass, he can put it on the floor, he can guard and he can rebound.”
Led by Steven Gray, who scored a game-high 22 points, Hempstead pulled within 28-26 midway through the second quarter. But The Mount closed out the first half on a 13-2 run capped by a Correa 3-pointer to take a 42-28 halftime lead.
It was more of the same in the second half with returning guards Gill (18 points) and Anthony Maestre (12 points) helping guide the Mountaineers to a 60-35 lead after three quarters.
“I thought our kids responded well,” Fraher said. “You worry about some nervousness early, but we made three threes to start the game. I liked our approach. The kids were looking forward to it, but it’s one [game] out of 24.”
It was a strong start of the season for a Mount team adjusting to life in the CHSAA Class AA a year after winning the Class A title.
“I’m ecstatic about the challenge, I can’t wait to get the league season started,” Gill said. “We have an underdog mentality right now. We didn’t get a lot of respect in a lot of newspapers, but that’s OK. That’s what we want, to be an underdog.”