By Peter McClelland
(Boston) – Do I detect a pattern? I think so – jump on the opponent in the first half and play them as even as possible otherwise.
It worked on Saturday afternoon at Wentworth as Gordon fashioned a 65-50 victory over the Leopards in Commonwealth Coast Conference action. The Scots are now on a five-game winning streak with a record of 11-6 over all and 5-3 in the CCC. Wentworth has now dropped three straight and is 6-12 overall and 4-6 in CCC play.
“When you hold a team to 50 points in their own building you’re playing very good defense and it’s hard to lose,” said Gordon Coach Mike Schauer afterwards. The Leopards came in averaging 75 points per game.
But as good as that defense has been it’s been the avalanche of offense that has put recent opponents in holes they can’t climb out of. This time it was a 19-point run that put a tie game (4-4) into one heading in the blowout direction. That this game didn’t evolve into a blowout is a credit to the grit and determination of Coach Tom Devitt’s Leopards.
It was the long-range shot that did most of the damage during those game-deciding six minutes. Mike Herr (sophomore-Lampeter PA) drilled three 3’s and so did Jerry Logan (sophomore-Marietta GA) and Mark Beebe (Clive IA). “We knew what they were going to do but we just couldn’t stop it,” lamented Coach Devitt.
It turned out that the 23-4 mountain was more than Wentworth could climb especially with the Gordon defensive effort they were confronted with. Passes were denied and driving lanes were closed. And oh, the turnovers! Seeing 26 of them on SID Bill Gorman’s stat sheet was not a pleasing sight. “A turnover is a shot you don’t get to take,” explained Coach Devitt. “It often results in a 4-5 point swing.”
Despite the shaky ball management the Leopards closed to 34-19, at the half running six straight in the last minute.
The trademark of freshman basketball players is that they will disappoint you one game and pleasantly surprise you another. Against Newbury it was Mark Beebe (2 point average) dropping in three’s from everywhere on his way to 18 points. In this game it was Justin Kaufman’s turn to supply offense and it was certainly needed. Aaron Vogelzang (junior-Jericho VT) was unavailable and Jerry Logan seemed to be in endless foul trouble.
Justin poured in 13 points of Gordon’s 31 second half points. He also spent a lot of time defending Wentworth’s top scorer Sherrad Prezzie-Blue (freshman-Norwalk CT).
“I thought Justin played great especially after starting and getting into foul trouble in the first half,” said Gordon Coach Schauer. “He’s a great player and I’ve kind of put him in the valley a little bit because he’s got to get better defensively. He’s working hard at it and he’s got a good attitude about it. You saw flashes (in the second half) of why we recruited him so much.”
What Justin did was give the Scots A+ performances on offense and defense and he helped keep Wentworth at a double-figures deficit in the second half.
“(Mike) Herr and (Justin) Kaufman took big shots and they’re not grizzled veterans,” added Coach Devitt. “For them to do that on the road is quite a credit.”
The Leopards got as close as 57-46 with 3:15 to go but Jerry Logan stopped that with two free throws and a steal and a lay-up.
Mike Herr led all scorers with 17 points and was credited with 5 assists, 8 rebounds and 3 steals. Let’s not mention the 4 turnovers! Jerry Logan and Justin Kaufman finished with 13 points and the less said about Jerry’s 6 turnovers the better.
Sherrad Prezzie-Blue tallied 13 and Carmino DeMercurio added 12 for the Leopards.
“Prezzie-Blue is about as good as you’re going to see in our league offensively,” said Coach Schauer. No argument from Leopard Coach Devitt – “He’s going to be a fantastic player in this league.”
Next game for Wentworth is at Curry on February 2nd. On the same day Gordon gets another chance against Endicott at Endicott.
On Aaron being unavailable – Coach Schauer – “Because he had missed practice on Friday and hadn’t communicated that to me until way too late I felt compelled to suspend Aaron for today’s game. I think we’re still in good shape, though. The guys understood it. Nothing against Aaron. Just team protocol, I guess.
“With Aaron unavailable that put Scott Allenby (senior-Proctor VT) into a boat-load of minutes. Mark (Beebe) was going to have to play more too. I was anxious about today because Aaron is one of our best defenders.”
That 1 o’clock start caught at least one set of parents by surprise.
That 19-point streak by Gordon happened after Carmino DeMercurio (senior-Wappingers Falls NY) had dunked after a nice feed from Bryan Gaine (sophomore-Braintree MA).
SID Bill Gorman serves up the best stats on the road.
I was at Wentworth with a teacher-friend of mine who is an avid Steelers fan. He said the Wentworth colors made him feel right at home. I couldn’t help but think that home was where those colors would be spending next Sunday!
I watched Keith Krass (freshman-Westlake IL) carefully. He never attempted a shot.