By Peter McClelland
(Paxton) – Gordon recovered from a nightmarish first half and shot their way to a 76-55 victory on the road at Anna Maria on Thursday evening in Commonwealth Coast Conference play.
You didn’t need much of a memory to recall the last visit to Paxton when the Amcats upset the Scots in the first round of the CCC playoffs. What made that one so tough to swallow was that Gordon had beaten Anna Maria by 23 ten days earlier.
And so when the Scots got down 35-26 after a minute gone in the second half to a team with a 6-14 record and a loss last game to winless New England College you could imagine another bad dream in the making.
“This is a tough place to play,” said Gordon coach Mike Schauer afterwards. Why? The Amcats press, they run, and they have the CCC’s top scorer in Matt Brennan.
“Everything went our way in the first half,” recalled Amcat coach Dave Shea. “We contested every shot and we took away the 3-point shot. That just broke down in the second half. And credit Gordon they knocked down shots.”
Did they ever! “Hayes Murray set the tone early in that second half,” said coach Schauer. The Gordon senior connected on his first two 3-point tries in the second half and everyone else on the team seemed to follow his shooting lead. Hayes ended up with 18 second half points and a game-leading total of 21.
Gordon was a remarkable 15 for 24 in the second half and outscored Anna Maria 50-20 after that first minute of the second half.
Hayes had a terrific second half but the real star of this one was sophomore Alex Yeats. Every now and then a player will show you what they can do at the top of their game. This was that game for Alex – 18 points/14 rebounds/ and a remarkable defensive job on the CCC’s top scorer (Matt Brennan).
With Anna Maria trying to guard the perimeter Alex found one-on-one coverage inside and took full advantage (12 points in the second half) of it with power moves to the basket. On defense he kept the ball away from Matt Brennan (12 points in the game) without getting into foul trouble. “Alex was just unbelievable,” exclaimed coach Schauer.
The win evens Gordon’s overall record to 11-11 and 8-5 in the CCC. “Having a winning season is a big, big deal to us,” said coach Schauer. “I told them at halftime that they were about to lose their season. I told them that they needed to take ownership of the outcome.”
For the Amcats the tough ride continues. They are now 6-15 with a 3-9 CCC slate. They have lost 5 of their last 6.
No description of this game would be complete without references to the play of Anna Maria’s 6’ senior captain Casey Lefebvre. After seeing him dive into the Gordon bench on one play and into the scorer’s table on another and noticing that he had eight steals you couldn’t do anything other than admire his efforts.
“I believe that he plays harder than anyone else in the CCC,” said coach Schauer. “I told him afterwards that it’s been an honor to compete against him.”
“He’s the epitome of how we want all our guys to play,” added coach Shea.
It was that diving, pressing style that sent Anna Maria on a 14-4 spurt in the first half and gave them a 25-17 advantage with six minutes left in the half. “We were tentative against that press and then we rushed the shots that we got,” said coach Schauer.
The Amcats extended the 30-26 halftime lead to 35-26 when Matt O’Malley buried a three (they would miss their next ten) and Casey Lefebvre stole the ball and went in for a lay-up.
After that the Gordon shooters took over. A 14-2 run ended with a Mike Herr trey and Gordon was in front to stay 40-37 with 16 ½ minutes left. 2 ½ minutes later Ryan Smith’s 3-pointer pushed the lead to 51-41. Pete Haussler’s lay-in put the Scots up 59-43 with 11 minutes left and Gordon turned patient on offense and posted the win.
Besides Murray and Yeats, Ryan Smith also ended up in double figures tallying 10 points.
Matt Brennan topped the Amcats with 12 points followed by the ever-active Casey Lefebvre with 10 points, 5 assists, and 8 steals.
After an evening of extreme artificial noise at Endicott it was good to be able to hear the basketball bounce and listen to the voices of the participants.
Ahead for Gordon is an afternoon affair on Saturday with Wentworth at the Bennett Center. Only three games left in the regular season.