BENNINGTON — Thursday was the start of a new day in Bennington for the Mount Anthony Union High School basketball team.
The student section — Kates Krazies — were back after a hiatus and the gym rocked.
The fact that the Patriots cruised to an 81-49 win over Mount St. Joseph in the season opener helped.
"It felt like a game in January, maybe even a quarterfinal [game] a little bit," said MAU coach Dan Sleeman.
"The town and school is into it, the gym was rocking, it was the most fun game in my whole life," said senior Tyler Champagne.
Transfer Jonas Parker led the way for the Patriots with 18 points and 17 rebounds, but offense came from all over as 12 of the 14 players on the roster got on the scoresheet.
"I was kind of nervous, missing chip shots," said Parker, playing his first game for MAU. "The guys got me into the game and we got going from there."
Champagne had 12 points as did Damon Burgess as Mount Anthony hit on nine 3-pointers on the night.
Matt Anderson added eight points and grabbed 12 rebounds in one of his better games of his career.
MAU got out to a quick start, aided by a couple of triples from Champagne to take a 21-11 lead at the end of the first quarter. They kept the foot on the gas in the second quarter, stretching their lead to 20 with 90 seconds left before halftime after a 13-0 run.
In the stretch, Parker and Champagne both got offensive rebounds to keep possessions alive. Henry Salem hit a three to make it 41-19 at halftime.
"I've been working on rebounds in the middle," Parker said. "Coach has me working on that, going straight up and scoring from there."
In the third, MAU went on another run, this one 13-2, capped by a Ryan O'Neill triple to make it 58-25 with 2:49 left in the third. MSJ pulled off a run at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, getting as close as 62-41 after a free throw by Jack Whitaker, but Mount Anthony emphatically put the game away as the 6-foot-6 Parker got loose on a transition and jammed it home as the Krazies went nuts.
"MSJ came out tougher than last year but coach said we had 23 assists today," Champagne said. "We worked it and if we keep that up, the sky's the limit. The big start is huge, the last couple of years, we had Rice and it didn't go our way and this year it did."
Barryn Shark led MSJ with 11, while Joe Ruby added nine.
Mount Anthony travels to Middlebury on Wednesday.