By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) The Gordon Fighting Scots won their home opener, 86-61, with an effective combination of pressure defense and accurate first-half shooting against the visiting Castleton State Spartans on Thursday night at the Bennett Center.
The win extends the Scots victory streak to three as they brace for the start of Commonwealth Coast Conference action against Nichols on Saturday at home.
Castleton coach Ted Shipley was impressed with Gordon. “Their pressure defense was very good and that set up a lot of other things for them. We couldn’t run our offense the way we would have liked as a result. They also set good screens and had way too many open shots.” Credit the Vermont visitors for playing hard even after trailing 46-27 at halftime.
It was the intensity level that seemed to please Gordon coach Mike Schauer the most. “We came out a little over-excited and feeling the effects of a 12-day layoff but we played hard the whole game and it paid off.”
And pay off it did once the shots started to fall. The visitors even had a 4-2 lead after 3+ minutes of ugly shooting by both sides. But then Gordon began to find the range from down town. Over the next ten minutes that 2-point deficit turned into a 36-15 advantage and the Scots never looked back. The most devastating surge had the Scots reeling off eleven unanswered point with threes by Scott Beebe (2) and Ryan Smith (1) followed by a breakaway lay-up by Joe Witherspoon off of a steal that had dunk possibilities.
Leading the scoring for Gordon in this game was senior Scott Beebe with a nifty 8-for-13 from long range and a total of 29 points. “We made a lot of shots tonight and Scott led the way in that category,” stated coach Schauer after his first win at home. “Players did their roles and although they don’t all figure prominently on the score sheet they were all an important part of our success tonight.”
Coach Schauer thought the game was special to newcomer Scott Allenby. “He’s lives about 20 minutes (Proctor) from the Castleton campus.” The Gordon sophomore had nine points in thirty minutes of action.
And in addition there were some things that the wintry home crowd and I enjoyed: the way Elliott Blackstone recovered from a turnover by hustling back on defense and picking a Spartan player clean, the way Ryan Smith lit it up from the outside to prevent Castleton and future opponents from concentrating only on Scott Beebe, the beautiful pass from Scott Beebe that found Joe Witherspoon all alone for a lay-up as the first half ended, the ability of the defense to force 22 turnovers, playing time for fan favorite Tim Shaw, the ability of one young lady to sing the national anthem and fix a printer without worrying.