By Peter McClelland
(Johnson) – Gordon’s seniors came through down the stretch and the Scots defeated the Johnson State Badgers, 70-69, in non-league action in distant Vermont on Thursday evening. The Scots are now 12-2 with CCC foe Roger Williams ahead on Saturday afternoon in Rhode Island.
With the score tied at 69, with 12 seconds left, Gordon coach Mike Schauer turned things over to Scott Beebe and Joe Witherspoon. “There was a set play but I always want our guys to read the situation and be aggressive and Joe did that. It was supposed to be a screen-and-roll with Scott but Joe saw a lane and took it.” Fouled on the drive, with two seconds left, Joe sank the first shot and missed the second but Johnson State had no time to get off a shot.”
Johnson coach Greg Dixon was very disappointed. “Gordon is a good team and I thought we played to their level. We just have to learn how to win the close ones.” The Badgers have now lost four in a row and their record stands at 5-9.
That fact that Gordon was even within striking distance of the home team was quite remarkable after a miserable start. The Scots came out missing shots and turning the ball over and before they knew it Johnson State had a, 19-6, lead after 12 minutes.
“I’m not sure what our problem was,” said coach Schauer. “Maybe it was an emotional letdown after the big win Tuesday night against Endicott. Whatever, it was Ryan Smith who brought us back in that first half.” The hot-shooting junior dropped in four 3’s as Gordon closed to, 27-26, in the last minute. A last second prayer by Patrick Glover at the buzzer gave the Badgers a, 30-26, halftime edge.
The Scots rattled off seven straight to start the second half and you had to think that the underdog home team would fold. Not so. Not with the top scorer in Division 3 on board. Patrick Glover averages 30 per game and he contributed 15 of their next 17 points. Gordon had answers, though, and the lead went back and forth.
The Scots spurted ahead, 42-37, only to have the Badgers ride Glover’s inside and outside game to jump in front, 48-44, with ten minutes left. A three-point play by Frank Ponte knotted the score at 58 with 4 ½ minutes remaining.
At this point Scott Beebe found his long range touch and drained three 3’s in a row. “What I like about Scott is that he’ll never stop shooting,” added coach Schauer. “He still wants to take the big shot. I respect that about him a lot.”
Joe Witherspoon put back a rebound with 55 seconds left to push the Scots up, 69-65, but a free throw by Jason Allen and another 3-point play by Frank Ponte knotted things at 69 before Joe Witherspoon made his game-winning free throw.
“A significant different in the halves was that we became more aggressive on offense,” explained coach Schauer. “It’s not like us to be tentative but we seemed to be that in the first half.
Johnson State had three players (Glover, Lee Zolotas, Frank Ponte) play the entire game. “We’ve got some injuries and our bench is thin – only three players,” explained coach Dixon.
Gordon ended up with five players in double figures let by Josh Sylvester (18 points/8 rebounds), Ryan Smith (12), Joe and Scott with 11 and Hayes Murray with 10.
Patrick Glover (29 points) didn’t hurt his average much. He also added 13 rebounds. Less positive were his eight turnovers. Frank Ponte chipped in 12 while Lee Zolotas and Shane Levine had 10 each.
The Scots are still unbeaten on the road although this one could have easily gone the other way. There is nothing but CCC play ahead. No more four hour trips!