By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) – “This afternoon was a time that belonged to our five seniors (Scott Beebe, Joe Witherspoon, Josh Sylvester, Tim Shaw, and Jamie Van Dyke),” said Gordon coach Mike Schauer after the Scots dispatched visiting New England College, 83-63, at the Bennett Center on Saturday afternoon for their 20th win of the season.
“I’m so proud of them,” added coach Schauer. “They more than anyone else, including the coaching staff, are the reason we’ve been so successful this year. And it’s not just their abilities it’s the caliber of people they are.” The seniors and their parents were introduced to the crowd before the game.
This has been a tough season for New England College. They finished 2-22 and were 1-15 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. “We’re on page one and trying to build a program like Gordon has,” said Pilgrim coach Charlie Mason afterwards. “Gordon’s got great kids that work real hard. They play very well together. Just take a look at the physiques. Look at the commitment they made to getting better.”
And better they’ve gotten. “Twenty wins was one of our goals,” said coach Schauer. “I told them that we needed to accomplish something that can’t come off the shelf. People will remember that this team had a 20-win season no matter what happens from here on out.”
The Pilgrims grabbed an early 4-2 lead after Peter Nelson converted a missed shot and then put in a jumper just as the 35-second clock ran out. “Nelson had a big game for us and he’s going to get better,” said coach Mason.
That was the end of the good news for the Pilgrims, however. They trailed just 7-6 when they were victimized by Gordon’s shooting accuracy. Five different Scots delivered and five minutes later Gordon had NEC on the ropes, 21-6. The Scots carried that margin (42-27) to the locker room but not before freshman John Beebe gave his brother (Scott) a shooting lesson by nailing two 3’s in the last minute.
Hayes Murray put on a show in the second half. Few opposing teams realize it but he is the team’s most accurate 3-point shooter and next year he’ll get the kind of attention Scott Beebe has had to endure this season. But that’s next year and this year he gets wide open looks. The score was, 45-32, when the Gordon passers turned up 3 open shots for Hayes. The talented junior connected on all three to jack the score to, 54-32, and this game was essentially over.
“New England challenged us to make perimeter shots and Hayes delivered for us,” said coach Schauer. Hayes led all scorers with 24 points. Coach Schauer wasn’t as thrilled with the technical foul Hayes picked up in the first half for questioning a referee’s view of the game.
Coach Schauer opted to start senior captain Tim Shaw in this one. In the spirit of the servant leader that Tim has been for this team he assisted on Hayes Murray’s first 3-point basket to start the game. He returned late in the second half with the crowd begging him to shoot. He got in close enough to shoot but once again gave up his own shot to give Alex Yeats a resounding dunk opportunity. This kid is a keeper!
Joe Witherspoon added 15 points and Elliott Blackstone contributed 13 making all three long-range shots.
Peter Nelson paced NEC with 23 while Tim LaTorra added 17 along with 11 rebounds.
The Scots have finished the regular season with a 20-5 record. Their record in the CCC was 13-3. Ahead are the playoffs on Tuesday evening. Realistically, the Scots have a good chance of getting by any opponent they have to face in the first round from the other division because they haven’t lost to any of them. The second round, on Thursday, is a different story. They could run up against either Colby-Sawyer or Endicott on the road. Both of those teams were able to mess up the normally potent Gordon offense for road losses. The championship game is next Saturday.