By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) I suppose Scott Allenby figured, “If they’re going to honor me, I might as well put on a show they’ll remember.” Because that’s what happened.
On Senior Recognition Day on Saturday afternoon at the Bennett Center Scott Allenby had a huge second half in leading the Scots past ever-so-close Nichols College, 78-73.
Gordon Coach Mike Schauer honored his lone senior before the game and needed little imagination to describe a truly class act. Scott has had memorable games on the court but he’s better known for the type of person he is off of the court. Things like, hard-working, courteous, and helpful come to mind for me.
The truth be told, if Scott doesn’t drain 14 points in the second half Gordon loses this one. “We’ve been struggling to score points, “said Coach Schauer looking at the final statistics. “When we can put up 45 points in a half (second) that’s a significant improvement but since we gave up 44 in the second half maybe it wasn’t that good.”
Gordon had lost 3 of 4 coming in and this win puts them at 13-9 overall and 7-6 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. The Scots have three games left to get ready for the CCC tournament that will begin on the road for Gordon a week from this coming Tuesday.
The Bison slip to 7-15 and 5-9 in the CCC. Despite the loss there’s a good chance they’ll get to the CCC tourney as well because of the struggles of Eastern Nazarene and Anna Maria. They’ll end up, if they make the tournament, facing either Colby-Sawyer or Endicott.
This was a 3-point game (74-71) with 35 seconds left and Nichols had the ball. “I’ve got a bunch of freshmen (9 on a squad of 13) and we don’t know how to finish games,” lamented Nichols Coach Dave Sokolnicki afterwards.
But in this one the ball was where Coach Sokolnicki would have wanted it in such a game-on-the-line situation – in the hands of junior Casey Butler (East Longmeadow-MA). And as he launched another three you doubted he’d miss after he’d just tallied 12 of his team’s last 15 points. Maybe it was defender Pete Hassler’s (junior-Westford VT) flying leap but anyway this one bounced off the rim and Mike Herr (sophomore-Lampeter PA) gathered in the rebound. Justin Kaufman (freshman-Redding CT) iced it with four straight free throws.
Despite the miss Coach Schauer raved about Casey Butler afterwards. “He’s fantastic. He just abused us.” Casey tallied 17 in the second half on his way to a 24-point performance. At 6’5” he can hurt a team from just about anywhere on the court.
This game had 13 lead changes, by my count, but once Jerry Logan’s (sophomore-Marietta GA) dropped two free throws the Scots had the lead for good 53-52 with 8:11 left. Scott Allenby’s shooting heroics kicked in over the next five minutes. He poured in 14 of the Scot’s 19 points during this segment and Gordon jumped ahead 72-62 with 3:15 to go.
Scott was getting the 3-pointer off in a hurry (he had four of them) and Coach Schauer ran at least one set play for him. “Credit Gordon,” said Coach Sokolnicki. “They took us out of what we wanted to do during that stretch and shot their way to a ten-point lead.”
However, Nichols may be young but they proved to be game. Back they came with a 9-1 run over the next 2 ½ minutes closing to 73-71 before the Scots managed to hold them off.
Justin Kaufman turned in one of his best performances of this season. “Justin prefers to start,” said Coach Schauer. “He doesn’t seem to get into any sort of rhythm when he comes off the bench.” Seems that Coach Schauer’s “solution” was to keep Justin off the bench, as his 39 minutes (out of 40) would suggest. His 17 points were good. His 5 assists were excellent but best of all he had no turnovers. Pretty remarkable when the young guard had to take care of the ball on almost every possession.
Jon Marstaller (freshman-Naples ME) contributed a double/double – 13 rebounds and 12 points. That rebound total may be the highest turned in this year. Jon had a lot of unlucky bounces in close to the basket or he might have had 20 points.
Next stop for Gordon is in Biddeford, Maine against the University of New England. Gordon narrowly won the previous meeting (70-66) in January. The Scots last home game is Thursday night versus Wentworth.
A good group of Nichols fans were at the game to see Heather Clarke get her 1000th point and she didn’t let them down.
“Turnovers, free throws, and offensive execution have been our weaknesses all year,” said Coach Sokolnicki. “We’re shooting 61% from the foul line and we’ve shot 170 more free throws than our opponents.”
Sixteen of the 26 players on both squads were freshman. Only two were sophomores.
“The games this time of year are tough,” said Coach Schauer. “They’re all CCC games and everybody knows everybody else. The importance of each game makes them very competitive.”
John Beebe (junior-Clive IA) came in for one play and delivered a three.
Peter Hassler made as nice a slash to the basket as you’ll ever see. This kid is quick!
I’m trying to analyze Gordon high scorer Mike Herr’s recent shooting slump. It reached 3-for-14 against Nichols. I’m thinking that since he’s from Pennsylvania he’s either a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Philadelphia Eagles. How depressing! Let it go, Mike, they each lost to a better team.