By Peter McClelland
(Newport) – With the game/season on the line Gordon came up small (as opposed to big) and lost in the first round of the Commonwealth Coast Conference playoffs to host Salve Regina, 67-60, on Tuesday evening.
With two minutes left the Scots had the ball and momentum (they’d scored five points in a row) and only trailed 56-54. They had as good a chance as the Seahawks to win this thing.
But an “inexplicable,” to use Gordon Coach Mike Schauer’s word, 10-second violation gave the ball back to Salve Regina and Matt Coute (junior-Somerset MA) followed with a game-on-the-line three. Now down five (59-54) the Scots were forced to foul and the Seahawks answered every hurried Gordon basket with successful free throws – they were eight-for-eight in the last minute – and put themselves into the CCC semi-finals.
The Scots finish the season at 15-11 and for the third year in a row couldn’t get a first round win in the tournament. All of those losses have been on the road. Moral? Gordon has to find a way to finish in the top two in their division to get that opening round home game.
The Scots wasted a real nice second half comeback. Down 49-34 with 12 minutes left Coach Schauer found answers on the bench (John Beebe/Mike Schnackenberg/Aaron Vogelzang) and his team played its best basketball of the night over the next ten minutes. Some serious defense was exhibited and a 20-7 run happened.
“It was the kids who don’t play much who were involved in the comeback,” explained Coach Schauer afterwards. “Their play made it hard for me to decide who to play at the end of the game. I thought we made the wrong decision. I probably should have continued with (Mike) Schnackenberg and the others.”
That comeback didn’t surprise Salve Regina Coach Sean Foster. “Gordon is a tremendous team. We certainly didn’t think they’d lie down once we got the lead. They have good shooters and are well coached.”
Star of the Game?? Jon Hazzard (sophomore-North Kingstown RI) by a unanimous vote. This young 6’5” leaper poured in 24 points (15 in the second half) in what Coach Foster claimed was, “easily his finest game of the season.” Gordon ran out of defenders for him.
“Jon’s a sophomore who’s played a lot more this year than last year. He’s had a few games where he’s shown promise and potential but nothing like this. His aggressiveness in getting to the glass was key for him because it gave him a lot of close shots.”
Jon picked up right where Curry’s Raheim Lamb had left off last game by finishing with authority. He had three jams along the way. Not bad for a player who came in averaging 8.7 points per game.
Where did the Gordon 3-point touch go in the second half? They were 1-for-10! “They shot the three real well in the first half (5-for-11) and one of the keys in the second half was how well we would come out and contest their shots,” said Coach Foster. “If we could do that I thought we had a real advantage on the glass and we could hold them off.”
Coach Schauer was quick to take the blame for the grievous 10-second violation. “It was my fault. I was calling the names of two players and they were the wrong players. It ended up confusing things on the court.”
That Salve Regina gymnasium was about the hottest place I’ve been to since I was in a greenhouse last spring. How hot was it? Both coaches had their suit coats off before this game was over.
Justin Kaufman (freshman-Redding CT) played this one from end-to-end (all 40 minutes) and defended well while putting up 11 points. He got his reverse spin move down the lane to work and then there was that 3-pointer that bounced off the rim and backboard before going in.
Jerry Logan (sophomore-Marietta GA) will probably file this game under “frustrating.” Defending the Seahawks top scorer (Matt Coute) he got two quick fouls in the first four minutes and landed on the bench. Six minutes into the second half he had his third foul and technical to go with it when he tried to “help” the referee. This got him another trip to the bench. He needs to play a lot more than 23 minutes if the Scots are to compete.
The two big men inside (Jon Marstaller-freshman Naples ME & Chris Collier-senior Exeter NH) neutralized each other on offense but Chris was the big winner on the boards collecting 13 including 7 offensive rebounds. This was another game in which Alex Yeats……….ah, never mind.
Who needs coaches? Salve Regina got back so late from halftime that they had no warm-ups and the captains got the players out on the court to start the second half because the Seahawk coaching staff was absent.
Where are the students? Nice building, important game, but few students. I’m thinking, selfishly, that it’s partly because of a lack of information. It seems to me that no one but close friends and loved ones go to away games and so potential on-campus supporters get out of touch with the team. I think that the websites are too factual to stimulate much of an on-campus following. Endicott is the only CCC school in which a basketball game is an event and you don’t want to miss it. Maybe it’s because they’re so successful.
Hand in the uniforms? Not so fast. Coach Schauer alerted me to the fact that the team will be going to Taiwan after graduation in May for several weeks. It’s a trip similar to one that Wheaton (Illinois) has taken and Coach Schauer knows the folks running it. There will be as many as 10 games with all different types of competition. I wonder if they need someone to write those games up??
Thanks to the team for the pleasure of watching another season unfold. Thanks to departing senior Scott Allenby for helping me greatly increase the folks on the receiving end of my writing attempts. Thanks to the coaching staff for their cooperation in the good times and the bad. To God be the glory!