By Peter McClelland
(Dudley) “We were within four (65-61) when their Big Three stepped up,” lamented Nichols coach Dave Sokolnicki afterwards. “They had cut the lead to four and the momentum was shifting,” added Gordon coach Mike Schauer.
What happened next? Scott Allenby drained two straight threes, while Hayes Murray and Ryan Smith added free throws as the Scots rebuilt their lead and won their opening Commonwealth Coast Conference game 85-78 at Dudley on Monday night.
“Any conference win is a good one especially one on the road, “noted coach Schauer. “I think that Nichols is a good team and will be right in the mix in the CCC South.
Coach Sokonicki thought that a key to the loss was the lack of first half, defensive intensity by his club. “We just didn’t close the half out and we trailed the rest of the game.”
The catalyst in the first half surge was sophomore John Beebe. He was back with the same kind of magic he displayed in the Connecticut College game less than a week ago after the Bisons had closed to 28-26 on a lay-up by Ibrahima Kourouma with three minutes left until halftime.
Gordon went on a 9-3 run the rest of the way with Beebe getting a free throw, a trey and a lay-up in the last second to boost the visitors to a 37-29 halftime advantage.
The Scots would increase their lead to 65-52 with 10 minutes left in the game thanks to a dominating inside show by 6’7” sophomore Alex Yeats. “I told Alex on Friday that he wasn’t playing well enough to start anymore,” said coach Schauer. And he didn’t start but after a second half with 11 points, four rebounds and two assists that could change. “The most important thing was his positive response to my criticism and challenge. It says a lot about his character.”
And how about the character of the Bisons? Down by 13 they put together nine unanswered points highlighted by a great save by Ryan Moszynski. Not only did the senior make the crowd-pleasing save but he came back inbounds and drilled a trey to narrow Gordon’s lead to 65-61.
It was then that Scott Allenby calmly nailed consecutive three’s as if he was shooting in an empty gym. “Scott is one of the toughest, hard-nosed kids I’ve ever coached,” explained coach Schauer. “He just wants to win. He’s won state championships. He won 20 games at Muhlenberg as a freshman and helped Gordon win 20 games last year. He’s used to winning.”
Two free throws by Hayes Murray followed and the Bisons trailed 73-61 and couldn’t recover. The win puts Gordon at 4-2 while the loss leaves Nichols 3-2.
Matt Trumbley played some tight defense and shut out Gordon’s high-scoring Ryan Smith in the first half. However, the talented senior didn’t miss a shot in the second half and closed with 10 points. Trumbley, meanwhile, led all scorers with 23 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.
Gordon had five players register double figures – Hayes Murray (20), Scott Allenby (14), John Beebe and Alex Yeats (11) and Ryan Smith (10).
“Our strategy was to not let the role players beat us but that’s what happened,” said coach Sokonicki. “We knew what to expect from their Big Three, it was Beebe, Yeats, and Swenson that were the difference.”
This game was scheduled for Saturday but snow and more snow changed that. “”We decided to play tonight because otherwise we’d have to play back-to-back CCC games later on,” explained coach Schauer. The Scots travel to Salem (December 12th) to play a very tough Salem State team in non-league action.