By Peter McClelland
(New London NH) – “I looked at the tape and that shot hit the rim five times before going in,” was the way Colby-Sawyer coach Bill Foti described Pat Kenny’s winning shot in the Chargers 69-67 victory over visiting Gordon in Commonwealth Coast Conference play on Tuesday evening.
That “winning shot” was just beyond lay-up range and the buzzer clearly went off after the ball was up on the rim. The Scots had just tied the game on Hayes Murray’s trey with seven seconds left. Instead of calling timeout the Chargers got the ball into Kenny’s hands at half court and the backcourt freshman did the rest.
“We had no plans to call a timeout if Gordon scored,” said coach Foti. “A lot of times after a team makes a shot like (Hayes) Murray did their defense gets a little fragmented. We didn’t want to call a timeout and give them a chance to set up. Pat is a good finisher.”
Coach Mike Schauer’s take on the game was to quote Scripture. “You reap what you sow,” he said. “We played so poorly at the start that we didn’t deserve to win.”
The Scots played 18 minutes of the first half in a fashion that was excruciating. You would have thought they were carrying George Bush campaign posters through the heavy turnout of Howard Dean and John Kerry supporters gathered around the voting spot down the hill from Colby-Sawyer. The Chargers were merciless. They had 12 steals and forced 17 Gordon turnovers.
It took coach Schauer 1 ½ minutes and a 7-0 deficit to realize that he’d seen enough of the first five and in came the second five. Things did not get much better.
Before this half was over the Chargers had hit Gordon with two 15-2 runs and had built up a 39-14 advantage with just two minutes until halftime. This one was heading towards ugly. But no, something kicked in and Gordon rode the long-range shooting of Hayes Murray (17 in the first half) and Mike Herr to 11 straight points. As a result the halftime score was a lot more respectable 41-25.
The Scots play in the second half had folks wondering what had happened in the Gordon locker room at halftime. Coach Foti wondered too. “Whatever he did at halftime, hats off to him. It really worked.”
Gordon outscored C/S 42-28 in the second half and if it hadn’t have been for Pat Kenny’s last second hoop this one would have gone into overtime. So what did happen at halftime?
“I told them that they were going to learn to play hard in the next 24 hours, “said coach Schauer. “They would do it for the rest of this game or at practice tomorrow night. I also told them that I didn’t think that I could find five to start the second half and told Coach Martin to choose five. He did and I changed one and out we came.”
So with Hayes Murray, Jerry Logan, Pete Hassler, John Beebe, and Mike Herr starting the Scots rattled off 10 straight, forced a Charger timeout, and were back in the game 41-35. Six minutes later Scott Allenby’s trey finished off a run of nine points and the Scots were ahead 53-47 with ten minutes left. Talk about a turnaround.
But C/S, which appeared sluggish during the Gordon rally found the energy to keep attacking the inside and drawing fouls. They used foul shots to regain the lead 58-56 with a little over five minutes to go.
Back and forth it went down the stretch before the Murray trey was followed by the Kenny game winner.
“I’ve got to give Gordon a lot of credit for the way they came back,” said coach Foti. “We were lucky to win this one. Hopefully we’ll learn some lessons which are a lot easier to learn when you win.”
“We came into this game like we thought we couldn’t win,” said coach Schauer. “The same thing happened last year. I can take a bad basketball team a lot better than one that won’t compete. We didn’t at the start and it cost us.”
It seemed to me that Gordon played so poorly in the beginning that instead of Colby-Sawyer putting Gordon to sleep it went the other way. By the time the Chargers woke up they were trailing and needed to rally to squeak by.
Hayes Murray was the best player on the floor. The less said about his six turnovers the better but he did collect 31 points. The Chargers ran a series of defenders at him in the second half with minimal effect. Ryan Smith added 16 points.
The Chargers got a double/double (11 rebound/18 points) from Andrew St.Clair. Also in double figures were; Tyler Putnam (14), Pat Kenny (13), and Chris Condon (10).
Colby-Sawyer is now 11-4 overall and 7-1 in the CCC. The Scots drop to 8-9 with a 5-3 record in CCC play.
The Charger streak of successive home CCC wins has reached 52. They have won three CCC championships in a row and it surely looks as if that streak will have to end if anyone else expects to dethrone them.
Colby-Sawyer returns to action Thursday at New England College. Gordon waits until Saturday to visit the University of New England in Biddeford.