By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) Oh me of little faith!
I just kept waiting for the wheels to fall off but they didn’t as Gordon defeated one of the Commonwealth Coast Conference’s elite teams, Colby-Sawyer, 69-51, at the Bennett Center on Thursday night.
Gordon coach Mike Schauer did just about everything in his verbal power to insist to me after the game that it was just another game etc, etc, etc.. Okay, I’ll agree with him that it was only one win but to my way of thinking it was an upset win and a sweet one at that.
Let me let the stats do the talking on the game’s significance. Under the leadership of Coach Bill Foti the Colby-Sawyer Chargers have, even counting this game, a CCC record of 120-17! You beat them it’s special.
As I suggested above I didn’t go into this one liking Gordon’s chances. My pessimism increased before the game as I saw Mark Beebe and Mike Schnackenberg looking extremely dapper but wearing suits instead of uniforms. I knew full well that if Colby-Sawyer has one definite strength it’s their inside game led by the CCC’s Player-of-the-Year Andrew St.Clair. Take away an inside defensive presence such as Mike Schnackenberg (health issues) and I foresaw an especially long evening for Gordon’s top scorer Jon Marstaller.
And then to make things worse it wasn’t five minutes into the game when Jon (6’6” sophomore Naples ME) had his second foul and headed to the bench. Down, 8-4, I certainly wasn’t envisioning an 18-point victory at that juncture! But on this special night the Scots had players step up all over the place.
While Jon Marstaller sat for the rest of the first half Nick Marino (6’7” sophomore Wellington FL) and Pete Hassler (6’4” senior Westford VT) picked up the defensive slack. Add Tim DeLuca (6’2” freshman Gray ME) and John Beebe (6’1” senior Clive IA) to the mix and away went the Scots on a 13-point run over the next 3 ½ minutes to take a 17-8 advantage.
Colby-Sawyer finally found its scoring touch behind Colin Bray and Tyler Fournier to run eight of its own and close to, 17-16, with less than 10 minutes until halftime. This was as close as the Chargers would get the rest of the game.
Gordon pushed the lead to 11 (29-18) only to have Colby-Sawyer narrow it to, 33-29, in the last minutes. Justin Kaufman (5’11” sophomore Redding CT) then turned the ball over, stole it back and calmly drained a three at the buzzer.
I liked the 36-29 halftime lead but I wasn’t comfortable with it. Same with Coach Schauer. “I was almost befuddled a halftime because I didn’t want to change anything. I didn’t have a whole lot to say to them. I just wanted us to keep up the energy level.”
Not only was the energy level there in the second half but also the long-range shooting accuracy. While the Chargers battled hard and scored some points in close the Scots rediscovered their 3-point game. I say “rediscovered” because they were a scary 1-for-11 last game against ENC. So Gordon had 3-point answers for Colby-Sawyers inside makes. That was the way it went until there were 8 ½ minutes to go and the Gordon lead was a meager 48-43. This was still anyone’s game.
Blame what happened next on fatigue on the visitor’s part and no one would argue with you. The Chargers have been on the road for five straight and somehow have an overall schedule of 9 home games and 15 road games. Anyhow, the Scots completely had their way over the next 5 ½ minutes and struck from everywhere collecting 16 points while Colby-Sawyer had only an Andrew St.Clair free throw during this segment. That put Gordon on top 64-44 with three minutes left and sent the visiting Endicott basketball players home early as the Scots closed things out, 69-51.
Gordon is now 8-3 overall and 3-1 in the CCC and have won all four games at home. They take on the University of New England on Saturday AFTERNOON at 3PM. I emphasize “afternoon” because the program and the website both say 8PM. It is one thing to miss the Patriots playoff game, which starts at 8PM, but to miss it and not have to is quite another.
Colby-Sawyer is now 4-8 overall and 2-2 in the CCC. They are on the road at Anna Maria on Tuesday. The loss gives the Chargers a six-game losing streak and they had to listen to the good-sized Gordon cheering section chanting that information their way at the end. They haven’t won a game since December 6th.
Coach Schauer had some thoughts on Colby-Sawyer. “They have been the CCC example about winning home games. They went through a presidential administration without losing a home game! I have great respect for Coach Bill Foti and his team.”
He also said, “Good teams protect the home court and that’s what we did tonight, in fact that’s all we did. Tomorrow we practice and on Saturday AFTERNOON we’re on the road against a pretty good UNE team on their court.”
Andrew St.Clair played up to his player-of-the-year status with an inside game worth 20 points. His teammates? Maybe 0-for-11 from 3-point land gives you an idea. I’m thinking that fatigue and the pressure of the losing streak factored in there.
Justin Kaufman had his best point production of the season with 16 points. “I was proud of Justin,” said Coach Schauer. “He’s sacrificed a lot for the betterment of this team. He doesn’t get as many shots as he got in high school but he’s adjusted his game nicely.”
Nick Marino had his biggest minutes of the season and looks ready to put in double-digit minutes regularly. He even showed that he has a short-range jumper in his arsenal…………..John Beebe never missed (3 for 3 – 9 points) and never turned it over. He would lead this team in plus/minus stats if such information was calculated……….. Aaron Vogelzang entertained the crowd but not the referees……….Charger Colin Bray slide toward the out-of-bounds line and called timeout as he went. Don’t try that at home!……..You had to wonder what the Endicott team thought as Gordon pulled away from Colby-Sawyer. You recall they won easily on their home court against Gordon and narrowly defeated Colby-Sawyer last Saturday. Gordon’s game with them at the Bennett Center on January 31st might be…just another game no more, no less!………..One of the goals for this team, in my opinion, should be to get a home game in the playoffs. To do that they will have to finish either first or second in the CCC North. They’ve never done that before. Could this be the year?…………..Were there fewer girls on the half-time dance team or is my eyesight fading faster than I thought?…………….The stat crew with Emily Sydow in the mix had their best game of the season………..Saluting the crowd afterwards is always the mark of a team that is majoring in manners.