By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) – It may be time to start thinking that we have something special here!
Gordon won its fifth straight defeating Salve Regina, 69-64, at the Bennett Center Saturday afternoon to open the Commonwealth Coast Conference schedule. That sets up the neighborhood howler over at Endicott on Tuesday night.
The successful outcome of this game had a whole lot to do with the sudden emergence of Mike Schnackenberg as a scoring contributor and the rediscovery in crunch time of an old friend – the 3-point shot.
The biggest change from last year’s Gordon team to this one was the graduation of Scott Allenby and the elevation of sophomore Mike Schnackenberg to that starting spot. Those on hand, and there were plenty, saw for the first time what Mr. Schnackenberg has to offer. “He took over the game for us for a while,” said Gordon Coach Mike Schauer afterwards. “We’d seen his ability to do that in Taiwan and there have been flashes in practice. This was the first time he’s been able to translate that into games this season. It was easily his best game.”
Mike reached double figures (13 points) for the first time this season and at 6’6” gave the Scots another inside option other than Jon Marstaller.
The Scots found the 3-point shot in the second half and only missed one of five attempts, according to my unofficial stats, during the second half. The most important 3-point shot of the game may have been Mike Herr’s with just a little over a minute left and Gordon hanging tenuously onto a 60-57 lead. Mike’s open look from the right side came after junior Jerry Logan had drawn the defense in with a drive toward the basket and had the good vision to find his teammate open. “Mike’s three was crucial,” said Coach Schauer. “I kept telling him after he’d missed so many (six in a row) that a situation might come where he could make a big one at the end. That shot ended the game for all intents and purposes.”
“I thought that the game turned on a lot of small things we didn’t do right especially defensively,” said Salve Regina Coach Sean Foster. “To give a tremendous shooter like (Mike) Herr and open shot when we did was crucial.”
There was plenty of ugly basketball in the first half. “This was a game in which we didn’t have it for a lot of it,” explained Coach Schauer. “We were struggling to find a rhythm and some intensity.” Coach Foster’s take was that “it was two teams that aren’t as polished as they want to be.”
Whatever, there were significant first half droughts but neither team could punish the other significantly during the dry spells. Gordon managed a nine-point run during a nearly 6-minute Salve drought and jumped in front 13-5. When the Scots went into the cooler it was the Seahawks turn for a run and they evened the score at 17-17 on a Matt Grendal converted rebound. A Mike Schnackenberg three the old-fashioned way and 6th man John Beebe’s new-fashioned three put the Scots in front by six. The Seahawks closed to 25-22 as Matt Grendal converted yet another rebound just as the half ended.
The Scots had 29-24 advantage early in the second half but Salve went through a five minute stretch of turning up high percentage shots and roared ahead 39-33 with a little less that 14 minutes to go. “A key moment in this game was when we were down 39-33,” reported Coach Schauer. “I said to myself we need some leadership on the floor. You forget that we have so many sophomores and juniors playing. I put in senior John Beebe and during his minutes out there we settled down considerably.”
This was the stretch in which Mike Schnackenberg stepped up offensively. After a Jon Marstaller jumper the Scots forced a turnover and Mike Schnackenberg sent Jon in for a crowd-pleasing jam. Mike scored the next two baskets and Gordon was back in front 41-39 with less than eleven minutes left. This was indeed anyone’s ballgame and back and forth it went until the score was tied at 51 on a jumper by Joe DeSantis with 6:40 to go.
Gordon then took the lead (52-51) on Jerry Logan’s free throw and never trailed again. The timely three’s started showing up a few minutes later as Justin Kaufman dropped one with a little under three minutes left and stretched Gordon’s lead to, 60-55. The last Scot three of the game was Mike Herr’s and that put this one away.
Salve and Gordon put plenty of young players on the court. “Both teams have a lot of trust in their benches,” said Coach Foster. The Seahawks used 10 players and Gordon 9 in a very tight game.
Matt Grendal excelled for Salve Regina. The 6’3” junior was steady in both halves and collected 18 points.
For Gordon the very reliable Jon Marstaller led their scoring with 17 points while sophomore Justin Kaufman picked up 13 points getting 11 of them in the second half.
Tuesday night it’s Endicott. There’s only one way to quiet that crowd down!
There is not box score. We are definitely going through a rebuilding year in the stat department!………There are reports that Mike Herr left his 3-point shot in Taiwan but his shot will be returned on Tuesday night……….After losing twice to Salve down at Newport last year, including in the first round of the CCC playoffs, it was good to even the score……….When defensively conscious Jerry Logan asked, “how many did he get?” he was asking about Matt Coute’s total. Jerry gave Matt some glove defense and limited the talented Seahawk to 9 points……..I’m seeing more and more little kids at these home games. Maybe “nursery provided” should be added to the program………..Has saluting the crowd by the team become a tradition? I hope so. They’re starting to become a 6th man!……….The developing threat of Gordon’s inside game is opening up a nice assortment of open shots on the perimeter…..Nick Marino keeps looking more and more comfortable in limited minutes……John Beebe makes the most of every opportunity. With the difference between winning and losing being very small he has been a big factor in the early winning streak…….Justin Kaufman dealt with backcourt pressure nicely and when Salve did some trapping full-court the team handled it easily……….I like our chances against Endicott. They graduated a number of terrific players so there is some inexperience at Endicott. They also have a new coach. We may never have a better chance to beat them then we will on Tuesday night.