Godwin, Mickens give PDS two weapons

Duo helps Panthers to third win

By: Bob Nuse
   PENNINGTON — When Drew Godwin suffered an ankle injury that kept him out of the lineup for the first six game of the Princeton Day School season, Jordan Mickens knew it was time to step up.
   And even now that Godwin has returned, Mickens isn’t about to slow down. The sophomore guard scored 24 points on Saturday to help the Panthers top Pennington, 60-53, for their third win of the season. Godwin, in his second game back with the Panthers, scored 17 as PDS overcame a sluggish start to beat the Red Raiders and improve to 3-5.
   "Drew was gone, so I felt like I had to do a lot at that point," said Mickens, who added eight rebounds to his scoring total. "Now that Drew is back, I feel like we have more chemistry on the floor. Drew and I did a lot of the two-man game with the pick-and-roll and I felt like that opened up the offense for us."
   Mickens averaged 17.2 points a game in the six games Godwin missed. In the last two games, he has averaged 16, while Godwin has chipped in with 18 per game. It gives the Panthers a pretty solid duo, not only on offense, but on defense as well.
   "We’re playing defense really well right now," said PDS coach Kyle Zosulis, whose team will host Timothy Christian today at 5:45 p.m.. "Drew has been out and he was the missing piece defensively. With him out there, we are able to balance the floor nicely.
   "Up until the Solomon Schecter game, which was our last game, we had used seven different starting lineups in seven games. Now we’re starting to get some continuity and the kids are understanding their roles. We’re playing together as a team."
   It is a team with two pretty potent weapons on offense. Godwin came into the season having already scored more than 1,000 points in his PDS career. Mickens may just be on his way to joining that club.
   "It’s a huge difference for me this year," said Mickens, who had an impressive 31 point, 10 rebound, 10 assist performance earlier this season against Pius X. "Last year I was more timid and I would just mainly stay out at the three-point line and shoot. The last two games I have not hit a three and my most in a game was three so far. So I’m not just relying on that. I’m taking it to the hole more and getting to the foul line. I’m just more comfortable with my game."
   And with Godwin back, the Panthers looked like a pretty comfortable team.
   "Me being out was good and bad," Godwin said. "It was bad for me being out. But it was good because it made people like Jordan step up. Andrew Dowdie, Zack Schectel, they really stepped up. Now, with me being back, some of the pressure is off them and they can just play their game. It should help us out in the long run."
   Zosulis hopes getting a win over a big rival will help. The Panthers have a tough stretch of games coming up, and Saturday’s win should help their confidence.
   "They’re real close to us," the first-year PDS coach said. "They’re a good team. We knew this would be a hostile environment coming in here. They were looking for their first win. We need a game like this where someone put some pressure on us and we responded. We have a tough schedule coming up with Gill-St. Bernard’s, Timothy Christian and Rutgers Prep.
   "For us to go to 2-0 in the conference was big. This is the first time in a while we have been able to sweep these guys. It’s a huge rivalry."
   Added Mickens: "We’re working hard, but that’s not good enough because we’ve been coming up short. We lost in double overtime in our tournament (to Pius X). We lost a close one to Solomon Schecter. Today we played hard and we were able to pull this one out."
   And now the Panthers have their leading scorer back as well. And Godwin is happy to be back on the floor.
   "I have never been sidelined like that for several games," said Godwin, who scored 19 points when he made his return to the lineup against Solomon Schecter. "I’m watching the game and trying to coach them on the sidelines. I want to be out there so badly and I was trying to get everyone to do the things I would do. It was tough and I’m happy to be back.
   "I had to calm down in the second half. It was really a group effort. The intensity just rose in the second half. Pennington is a great team and they work real hard. So this was a good win for us."
   One he hopes can lead to good things for the Panthers, who are just two years removed from a trip to the state Prep B final.
   "This is my third head coach in my four years here," Godwin said. "It took me a little time to buy into his system but his system is good. It’s a good system and all of us can work together out there on the court."
   Especially now that they’re all out on the court together.