By Peter McClelland
(Biddeford) It’s a kid’s world after all!
Three freshmen took over the scoring load midway through the second half and turned a 39-37 deficit into a 57-44 advantage eight minutes later and the Scots had themselves a 61-50 win over the University of New England on Tuesday evening at Biddeford.
During the surge to victory Justin Kaufman (freshman-Redding CT), Jon Marstaller (freshman-Naples ME) and Mike Schnackenberg (freshman-South Portland Me) tallied the entire 20 points Gordon got.
Gordon Coach Mike Schauer was excited about the way his team played. “I told the team that I love winning games this way. It’s the Midwestern style of play. You just grind it out. You defend every possession. We know what the other team is going to try and do and they know the same about us. There are no tricks left. It all comes down to will, effort, and a few plays here and there.”
The defenses, by both teams, were up close and personal. And for Gordon it started at the beginning. Last time, at Gordon, the Nor’easters zipped off to a 19-point half-time lead that was a pleasure to watch – if you were visiting from Biddeford. This time around, though, the Scots came out defending and they limited the home team to just 17 shots in the first half and forced UNE into an extraordinarily high 15 turnovers during that time.
That the Nor’easters were only down 27-21 at halftime playing that poorly is a credit to the defense they themselves were playing. “We tried to jam their screens and force them to shoot more 2’s than 3’s,” said UNE Coach Jon Hayes. And the 3’s that Gordon did manage to get off weren’t all that successful as their 3-for-15 in the first half would indicate.
UNE got a nice start in the second half led by Isaac Stickney (freshman-Rumford ME) and tied things at 29-29, 4 ½ minutes into the second half. This was anyone’s ballgame.
The Scots got back up by four (35-31) on a Mike Herr (sophomore-Lampeter PA) jumper but UNE’s top scorers for the season (Matt McManus-junior Cumberland RI) and Mark Oliver-junior Gloucester MA) answered with six straight and UNE was up 37-35 with 10 minutes to go. Mark Oliver answered Jon Marstaller’s two free throws by sending Tom Button (sophomore-Lyndeborough NH) in for a lay-up. That put things at 39-37 and set the stage for Gordon’s ever-present defense and freshman heroics to kick in and put this one in the win column for the visitors.
“Fatigue was a problem for us in the second half,” explained Coach Hayes. “It seemed to affect us more mentally than physically. Our decision-making wasn’t as good as it should be this late in the season.”
Coach Schauer has begun to make it a habit in recent games to praise the play of Justin Kaufman. This game was no exception and it wasn’t the 20 points he scored. “He was special tonight and is starting to get it. He’s starting to understand how hard you have to play defensively at this level to be a good player. I’m as pleased with him as I’ve been with anyone all year.” Justin relentlessly defended Mark Oliver most of the game and had Matt McManus when Jerry Logan (sophomore- Marietta GA) was on the bench.
This was practically a home game for Jon Marstaller and Mike Schnackenberg and they had their own fan clubs out in force. Jon contributed another double/double (18 points/10 rebounds) and even added three steals. Mike took advantage of getting more minutes than usual and took the ball to the basket hard on several occasions during the victory surge and made all four foul shots awarded him.
Gordon is now 14-9 overall and 8-6 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. UNE extends their losing streak to six and slides to 6-16 and 2-12 in the CCC.
The Scots host Wentworth Thursday night in the last home game of the season. UNE travels to New England College the same day.
Free pizzas were offered to the first two people making 3-point shots at halftime. Two girls from Thornton Academy took the first two shots and the pizzas were gone.
Jerry Logan again swarmed Matt McManus. UNE’s top scorer got four points in the last minute to get to 8 points (he averages 13.9) for the game. “Matt was well defended,” said Coach Hayes. “He’s been fighting a bit of a cold. He’s had to do a lot of things for us this year. We’re hoping to get some recruits in here so that next year he can go back to being a catch-and-shoot guy.”
Several times Aaron Vogelzang (junior-Jericho VT) has done it to me. I’ll be sidetracked into writing down a basket just scored and he will pick someone’s pocket and I miss it.
The Celtics broadcasters call them “Tommy points,” after announcer Tommy Heinsohn. You get them if you do something above and beyond the call of duty. For lack of a better name, I’ll call them Gordy points. I’m awarding one to Jon Marstaller for coming out of nowhere to tip in a missed shot in the second half. I’ll give another one to Isaac Stickney for standing in against hard-charging Pete Hassler (junior-Westford VT) and taking a charge that sent him to the bench.
Two more games left in the regular season with the CCC Playoffs starting next Tuesday. Gordon will be playing either Salve Regina, Curry, or Roger Williams in that first round. The game will be on the road. The Scots will get a look at high-scoring Curry on Saturday at Milton.