By Peter McClelland
(New London NH) The Colby-Sawyer Chargers made Gordon wish that Alex Yeats (6’8”) was still available as they dominated the Scots inside and held on for a 71-68 victory in Commonwealth Coast Conference play at New London on Thursday night.
The outcome puts Colby-Sawyer at 9-3 overall and 4-0 in the CCC. Gordon drops to 6-6 overall and 1-3 in the CCC.
“Everybody knows that Colby-Sawyer is the best offensive rebounding team in our league,” explained Gordon Coach Mike Schauer. “Tonight we gave them 20. To lose by 3 and give up 20 offensive rebounds suggests how well we played in other areas.”
This game was close throughout but the Chargers took the lead for good just before halftime (39-37) and actually never trailed again. It was fitting that Chris Condon (6’4” senior) should drain, what looked to be, an NBA trey from the top of the key to give the home team the lead for good. He killed the Scots the whole game.
Condon “only” made the second team All-CCC team last year. The 26 points he poured in with 12 rebounds (including 8 offensive) on Gordon has me thinking he’ll graduate to the first team this time around.
The CCC’s player-of-the-year last year (Andrew St.Clair) had a bit of an off night by his standards. He went in leading the CCC with 19.5 PPG and 10.7 RPG. In this one he got 12 rebounds but tallied just 11 points in a 5-for-13 evening. “Andrew injured himself in warm-ups,” explained Charger Coach Bill Foti. “His lower back was really hurting him.”
For Gordon the result of the trip to New London was the same as the last two years – losses – but the performance upgrade was notable. The previous two years Gordon fell way behind early and needed tremendous rallies to make things interesting. This time the Scots were much more consistent throughout on offense and defense. Their turnovers were down to 10 and they did get 14 offensive rebounds of their own. On defense it was a match up zone most of the way and Colby-Sawyer struggled from the perimeter.
“We are no longer deep,” said Coach Foti. “We do, however, have good leadership and toughness. We’re winning and not playing as well as we can. I guess that’s a sign of a good team. Eventually, however, we’re going to have to get better or it’s going to come back to bite us.” He was probably thinking ahead to games his team has on the road at Endicott and at the Bennett Center.
The Chargers were indeed short-handed. Their best defender, in my opinion, Tyler Putnam, decided to leave the team after four games to concentrate on his studies. Also gone was Pat Kenny, who beat the Scots at the buzzer last year. He was wearing a cast on his shooting hand and could be out 6 to 8 weeks.
Minus Putnam the Scots found shots for Jon Marstaller (freshman – Naples ME), Jerry Logan (sophomore – Marietta GA) and Mike Herr (sophomore – Lampeter PA) that might not have been available otherwise. When Andrew St. Clair picked up his 3rd foul with three minutes left in the first half trying to guard Jon Marstaller you imagined what might happen if he fouled out. But it never happened. It was late in the game before he got his 4th and he never did foul out.
Minus Pat Kenny, the Chargers best 3-point shooter, the Scots were able to zone with positive results. “We’ll see a lot of zones and we’re prepared for it,” said Coach Foti. “Theirs was very effective because we didn’t shoot very well.”
The zone helped Gordon deny the inside shot but it was those inside rebounds that Coach Schauer was bothered by. “We lack size and obviously we were counting on Alex Yeats being with the team. We just have to find a way to do better.”
Gordon jumped in front 9-5 after four minutes on a couple of lay-ups by Jerry Logan and one by Jon Marstaller. Later it was Colby-Sawyer with a 9-point run highlighted by an Andrew St.Clair steal and jam as they surged ahead 28-23 with seven minutes left. Right back came Gordon with the Jon and Jerry Show again for 10 in a row and the Scots were on top 33-28 three minutes later. The Chargers rallied at the end of the half thanks to a Chris Condon tip-in and long trey. The home team led at the half 39-37.
The Scots were never able to retake the lead in the second half. You sensed, though, that if Gordon could have gotten a lead their offense might have carried to the end. They did come close. Jon Marstaller’s jumper made it 44-43 after three minutes. Aaron Vogelzang (junior – Jericho VT) put in a rebound and the score was 49-47 with seven minutes gone by. Scott Allenby’s (senior – Proctor VT) free throw made it 52-50 at 11:30.
The Chargers built that lead to 60-52 when they put together treys by Chris Condon and James Thorpe. But a little while later Justin Kaufman (freshman – Redding CT) drilled a three and then somehow found a rebound and put it in. The result was Gordon trailing only 62-59 with six minutes to go. Andrew St. Clair followed with a lay-up.
The rest of Colby-Sawyer’s points (over the last five minutes) came from foul line. And it was here that Gordon’s weak rebounding really spelled the difference. Several times the Gordon zone forced an outside shot that ended up on the inside thanks to an offensive rebound. The Scots were forced to foul as a result. The worst of it had to be two instances in crunch time where a Charger free throw miss was followed by an Andrew St.Clair rebound.
But despite this problem Gordon was only down 71-68 with 22 seconds left and they had the ball. However, Scott Allenby’s attempted three rimmed out and later Chris Condon forced Jerry Logan into a desperate prayer that was unanswered.
Coach Foti was impressed with the play of Mike Herr. “That Herr kid is dynamite. He really hurt us.” Mike led the Gordon scorers with 18.
Coach Schauer had good words for Jerry Logan. “Jerry had a great game. He has been our best player this year on both sides of the floor all season. We have other scorers but no one defends like he does.” Jerry had 16 points in 37 minutes.
Jon Marstaller contributed a double/double – 11 rebounds/16 points. “He has the talent to be a tremendous player but he really needs to work harder on the defensive end,” said Coach Schauer. “It isn’t unusual for freshman post players to struggle on defense. On offense, however, he’s almost unstoppable at times.”
This was another game where the student body was missing. So Colby-Sawyer faced arguably their biggest rivals (Endicott and Gordon) without their very involved student body on hand. Seems to me that the non-conference games should be played under those conditions.
I guess you had to be there. It’s a given at Colby-Sawyer that the music will be twice (?) as loud as you’d want it to be. I mean, I wear earplugs and I can still hear it clearly! Well, on this evening the student body was missing and on hand were some locals from a much earlier period of time. They had no use for the music they were being subjected to. When it stopped because the game was going on they cheered. One of them yelled from across the way, “Keep it off, it’s not music anyway!” The adult audience in the stands found that crack rather amusing.