By Peter McClelland
(Milton) – “There’s an old adage that defense wins games but a guy could always say that in the history of sports it’s the team with the most points that usually wins,” said Curry Coach Malcolm Wynn jokingly after watching his team light up visiting Gordon for 96 points and win 96-79.
And this was a game in which Gordon’s offense was very good, as well, but there just was no stopping the Colonels on this final contest of the regular Commonwealth Coast Conference season on a Saturday afternoon in Milton.
The outcome didn’t affect either team’s place in the CCC standings no matter what happened. Both came in third in their respective divisions. Curry finishes 11-5 and Gordon 9-7.
Gordon starts the CCC tournament at Salve Regina in Newport RI. Curry gets to play Colby-Sawyer up in New London NH. After what I saw of Curry in this one I like their chances against Colby-Sawyer and anybody else in the tournament for that matter!
“We’ve been up and down all season,” said Coach Wynn. “We wanted to win the CCC South again but a tough loss at home to Endicott and a road loss to Roger Williams last game ended there and so we won’t get a home game in the tournament. So we wanted to end the regular season on a positive note.” Trust me, coach, that’s exactly what happened!
It was a tough loss for the Scots because in a game in which their offense was extremely good (they shot 53.4% overall including 41.7% from 3-point land) they still were convincingly beaten. “This is the best offensive team in our league,” said Coach Mike Schauer after. “At home you can see how comfortable they are.”
If the Gordon offense was very good, how would you describe the Curry offense?? How about 37-for-56 overall and 10-for-16 from 3-point range!
The Scots started out in a man-to-man but after getting down 20-13 and watching Raheim Lamb (junior-Roxbury MA) dunk three times in the first 7 ½ minutes it was time to try zoning Curry. It worked last year at Gordon where the Scots won 66-56. In that one the Colonels had nothing from the outside.
And again in this one the zone seemed to throw Curry off its game for a time. While the Colonels were adjusting to the zone the Scots turned to instant offense (Mark Beebe-freshman-Clive IA). He delivered long-range twice and Justin Kaufman (freshman-Redding CT) and Jerry Logan (sophomore-Marietta GA) had successful drives to the basket. The Scots were trailing just 28-25 with 7 ½ left until halftime.
The rest of the half, however, Gordon found out that this Curry team had an outside game as well. With James Bartelle (sophomore-Dorchester MA) on one wing and Tim Jones (sophomore-Brookline MA) on the other the Colonels had players who could hurt a zone badly.
By the time those 7 ½ minutes were up both snipers had two treys each and there was the home team comfortably in front, 49-31 at halftime.
Curry got up by twenty (56-36 at 18:10) but credit Gordon, they kept plugging and ran ten straight on their way to making things interesting (60-50) with 15 minutes left. Justin Kaufman made his patented reverse spin down the lane pay off during this segment. You thought that maybe Curry had shot its wad and the Scots could make a serious run at taking this game.
But not on this afternoon. The Scots ran through a miserable series of possessions (5 turnovers in a row!) and there went the Colonels up by twenty again (75-55 at 9:40). A couple minutes later Mike Herr (sophomore-Lampeter PA) hit a three and the Scots were still hanging around down, 77-65, with seven minutes left.
Gordon had gone back to man-to-man by now and the Colonels started penetrating freely. They rolled up 13 while the Scots got 3. Along the way Raheim Lamb had yet another dunk. This game was over. Actually, Gordon ran off the last eight points to make the final score as close as it was.
Coach Schauer told me afterwards what he thought the problem was on defense. “What concerned me most was that we kept getting beat on the ball. We do have guys who can defend.” This was a game in which all of the one-on-one matchups were won by the home team. At times they were going to the basket as if it were pre-game warm-ups!
Raheim Lamb is easily the most dominant player I’ve seen in the CCC this season. He came in leading the conference in scoring (20 per game) and put up 28 against the Scots. He was 12-for-13 and didn’t miss a shot in the second half.
He was playing for Division One UMass two years ago before transferring to Curry. “Obviously, a D1 transfer helps you personnel-wise,” understated Coach Wynn. “But this kid has fit in. Even though he can dominate sometimes, he’s not demanding.”
Raheim didn’t see the ball nearly as much when Gordon zoned but when the Curry guards broke down their defenders they knew to look for #33 in closer. He was money in there.
James Bartelle nailed seven 3’s and reached 23 points while Tim Jones had three long-range and a number of lay-ups to tally 19.
As I wrote earlier, Gordon shot well. Mike Herr (16 points) continued his warm shooting and that bodes well for Tournament Game #1. Jon Marstaller (freshman-Naples ME) carried the team in the first half (15 points) and ended up with 19. Jerry Logan had 13 but with a surprising (for him) 5 turnovers. Justin Kaufman reached 10 points but it took him a team-high 13 shots to do it.
“I think that after what I saw today Curry can beat Colby-Sawyer in the playoffs,” said Coach Schauer. He also predicted on Thursday night after the Wentworth win that Endicott had beaten Colby-Sawyer. I have to admit that I disagreed with him on that one.
“I knew that 45% of the shots Gordon takes are 3-point shots and they run their motion as well, if not better, than Endicott runs their flex offense,” said Coach Wynn. “Up until game-time I was going to have the defense switch on everything but then at the last minute I decided that we would play straight man defense.”
I wonder what Gordon would be like this season if a D1 transfer with the inside game of Raheim Lamb had landed with them? He would have forced teams to zone and wouldn’t the likes of Mike Herr, Mark Beebe and others have had some nice looks.
One particularly loud fan kept shouting for Coach Wynn to put in #3 Clyde Forde in the first half. Later he ridiculed Coach Schauer’s tie! He was an equal opportunity insulter.
Steve Nelson (former New England Patriot) is the Curry AD and he was at the game. I wish I’d asked him what his take was on the troubling Tedy Bruschi situation.
This is the third year in a row that Gordon has made the playoffs. The last two times (Anna Maria and Roger Williams) it was one-and-done. The Scot’s offense has been pretty good lately. If the defense, that had been allowing only 64 points per game, can be found then Salve Regina can be beaten Tuesday night.