By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) – Wentworth held Scott Beebe to 7 points (he averages 20) but that didn’t stop Gordon from defeating the Leopards, 76-56, at the Bennett Center on Thursday night in Commonwealth Coast Conference action.
The win puts the Scots at 3-0 in CCC play and 9-2 overall. Wentworth falls to 0-2 in the CCC and 2-6 overall.
“We were aware of him (Scott Beebe) but you just can’t key on him because others will hurt you,” explained Wentworth coach Harry McShane afterwards. “They’ve got other guys that are all-conference caliber.”
The spark was junior Ryan Smith. He drilled four 3-pointers in the first half enabling Gordon to build up a 15-point lead (38-23) that the Leopards could never cut into in the second half. “He made so many big shots in that first half,” agreed Gordon coach Mike Schauer. “His performance should send out the message that we’re a whole lot more than one kid making shots.” Ryan came into the game averaging 5 points but ended up with 17 in this one.
The Scots got an impressive game from Josh Sylvester as well. The talented senior had a double/double (11 points/11 rebounds) to go with 6 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 steals. “Josh was forced to play the entire second half because we were in such terrible foul trouble,” added coach Schauer.
If Ryan was the spark in the first half it was a back-breaking 13-0 run, starting the second half, that gave Gordon its biggest lead of the night (51-23) four minutes into it and put this one out of reach. First play of the second half Josh Sylvester ran a backdoor cut and Scott Beebe found him for a basket and a foul shot.
The Leopards could be seeing those backdoor cuts in their sleep judging by the number of times that play worked successfully for the Scots. “We like to deny the wings,” explained coach McShane. “They cleared out and got guys to the rim. It turned out to be a problem.”
Coach Schauer admitted that this was his most satisfying win so far. Why? “They did an unbelievable job on Scott. That (Chris) Yost is a phenomenal defender. But Scott and the rest of the team were very patient and we found offense elsewhere. I was also happy to see us match the intensity of a team that was playing really, really hard.”
Gordon abandoned their man-to-man defense in the last five minutes opting to employ a match-up zone that had worked so well against Curry last Saturday. “It was assistant coach (Travis) Senik’s idea,” said coach Schauer. “We were in such foul trouble and they were getting a rhythm against our man-to-man. It was a good idea.”
Coach McShane had high praise for Gordon. “They’ve done a great job so far. They’re light years from where they have been in the past and are playing with a lot of confidence right now.” Asked how he would prepare for his second meeting with Gordon (February 15th) he joked, “I would say a couple of extra prayers.”
Joe Witherspoon paced all scorers with 19 (and 8 rebounds) and Hayes Murray added 10.
Freshman Kyle Shaw (“This was his best game” – McShane) led the Leopards with 17 while defensive whiz Chris Yost totaled 16.
Gordon travels to Newport (Rhode Island) on Saturday to take on tough Salve Regina in CCC action.