By Peter McClelland
(Paxton) – Coach Mike Schauer was so upset by the loss that he wouldn’t speak to me afterwards. So my hope (as I’ve done all season) of, letting the coaches tell the story and I fill in a few statistical gaps here and there, was dealt a serious blow.
Anyhow, Gordon took a surprisingly early exit from the Commonwealth Coast Conference playoffs as they were upset by the Anna Maria Amcats, 75-67, on Tuesday evening in Paxton.
Gordon had routed the Amcats a mere 12 days ago, 73-50, in Wenham and Anna Maria, despite playing at home, didn’t appear to be capable of ending the Scot’s season so abruptly.
“Mike (Schauer) came in to the office before the game and told me that he knew that we were going to shoot better than we did at Gordon,” said Amcat coach Dave Shea after the game. That would have to be one that coach Schauer wishes he hadn’t be so right on!
Anna Maria’s shooting improvement was extraordinary; 20 for 63 at Gordon, 28 for 63 in this one. Their 3-point shooting showed remarkable improvement as well; 4 for 27 at Gordon, 11 for 20 in this one.
The Scots, on the other hand, had similar stats to the first game and those numbers have usually been enough to carry Gordon to victories. But the Scots didn’t have the necessary defensive answers in this one.
Those attending this one will come away raving about the shooting shows put on by the Amcats’ Matt Brennan and Gordon’s Joe Witherspoon. It seemed as if any time either of them touched the ball something good happened for their team.
Those chants of “Matt-ee, Bren-nan,” showed that the home crowd knew he was having a great game. After all he is the leading scorer in the CCC averaging 22 points per game. In this one he had that many in the first half! Matty finished with 33.
Joe clicked on every type of shot on his way to 32. He seemed to have his greatest success with little floaters in the lane.
“What a show those two put on, “said coach Shea, “but they really offset each other. It was what the rest of the players did that made the difference in the outcome.”
Matt Brennan scored Anna Maria’s first 12 points in less than 3 minutes but Gordon only trailed 12-8. That lead increased to 17-10 before the Scots rolled off 10 straight to grab the lead, 20-17 with 11 ½ to go in the half. But the Amcats had long-range weapons that could bring them back in a hurry and sure enough they regained the lead 27-23 with 7 ½ left. The next 11 Gordon points belonged to Joe Witherspoon and the Scots started to pull away 34-27 with 4 minutes until halftime. Later it got to 41-32 in the last minute before a free throw by Roy Philbrick and a last-ditch 3 by Matt Brennan cut the halftime lead to 41-36.
Gordon staggered out of the gate in the second half and quickly lost the lead and fell behind 51-43 with 14 ½ left. It began to look as if the Amcats would get a comfortable lead. The Scots, however, put together a 9-2 spurt and were right back in it, 53-52. The Scots hung close and finally with four minutes left tied the score at 65 on Joe Witherspoon’s jumper off the glass.
The last four minutes were a nightmare for coach Schauer and the Scots and an unfortunate ending to a great season. During this stretch Anna Maria gave Gordon a dose of patient offense with points at the end of it. The Scots came up empty on 7 of its last 8 possessions.
The killer possession was in the last minute, with Anna Maria ahead 71-67, when Casey Lefebvre missed both free throws but Matt Brennan got the rebound and was fouled. He didn’t miss his two so instead of having the ball down by four Gordon went down by six. This one was over.
Casey Lefebvre collected 15 points while Michael Geoffroy added 12. 14 of Lefebvre’s points came in the second half.
Scott Beebe contributed 11 for Gordon.
If I could have spoken with coach Schauer afterwards I would have commended him for changing, in one season, the Gordon reputation. After a while this season teams played Gordon knowing it would take a special effort to beat them. No longer was a win by Gordon considered an upset. And that is an important step for this program to have taken. Hats off to you, Mike, Travis, Derrick, and the team for a job well done.