By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) – Sometimes you forget that the kid made second team all-conference last year. Those of us with the memory lapses saw Mike Herr (6’5” junior Lampeter PA) put on a first half show (18 points) that was a quick refresher course on how dangerous he can be.
“He’s tough,” was how Roger Williams Coach Mike Tully put it after seeing his Hawks lose, 58-40, in Commonwealth Coast Conference action at the Bennett Center on Saturday afternoon.
Mike Herr went on a 10-point streak all by himself in the first half and before the visiting Hawks knew it a game within reach (21-17) got away from them (31-17). I think that Mike made 2nd team last year on the strength of his 3-point shooting. This year he has a developing inside game to go with it. In the 3-minute, 10-point, offensive show he started out by taking the ball successfully to the basket against 6’11” Geoff Baranger. Next he got on the scoring end of a fast break set up by a crowd-pleasing block of a Hawk breakaway attempt. The last six points were off of his old standby – the downtown trey.
Justin Kaufman (5’11” sophomore Redding CT) was no slouch either in the first half. He also had his own scoring streak of 8 points. He had a couple of treys during this stretch and a breakaway lay-up after a steal.
This was a game in which I kept waiting for Roger Williams to explode offensively and make this one close but it never happened. “This game was all about how well Gordon played,” said Coach Tully. “They contested everything and never gave us an open shot. And they did an excellent job of rebounding”
That rebounding part was a real eye-catcher on the stat sheet for the first half. The Scots collected 20 rebounds in the first half and the Hawks had just 6! “They had more offensive rebounds in the first half then we had defensive rebounds,” lamented Coach Tully.
Gordon Coach Mike Schauer was equally surprised. “I’m quite sure we haven’t had a better rebounding half in the four years I’ve been here. We had a pretty high energy level and a lot of times that is the difference in a player getting or not getting a rebound.”
The Scots closed out the first half on top, 33-20, thanks to a well-run, last possession play. They cleared the floor for what looked like a Justin Kaufman spin to the basket but just as Justin started for the basket he hit a wide-open Jon Marstaller (6’6” sophomore Naples ME)for a lay-up at the buzzer.
Because both teams came into this one on five game winning streaks I worried about the second half. I was thinking that Roger Williams had done nothing on offense and a 13-point lead could go fast in a rain of successful 3’s. But even though the Scot offense took five minutes get a basket (Mike Schnackenberg drive) the defense just gave the Hawks the same sort of trouble it did in the first half. Seconds ticked off as they sought openings and there were few second shots to be had.
“I think the schedule played a part in the way things went,” explained Coach Schauer. “They had tough CCC games with Curry and Salve Regina while we only had a relatively non-competitive game with a non-conference team (Mount Ida) to deal with. We spent quite a bit of practice time getting ready for Roger Williams.”
A Michael Woolley trey had the Hawks still within range (43-31) at the 11minute mark but over the next four minutes it was all Gordon as Justin Kaufman, Jon Marstaller, and Pete Hassler (6’4” senior) cashed in lay-ups and Mike Herr drained yet another trey. With 7 minutes left the margin was, 52-31, and this one in the win column for the home team.
Gordon is now 11-3 overall and 5-1 in the CCC. They have won six in a row and will face New England College on Tuesday evening at 7:30 at Henniker, New Hampshire. I can imagine how happy things will be up there with a ski resort in the town and no snow!
Roger Williams suffers its first CCC loss – they’re now 6-1. Their overall record is 7-8. You talk about a down-and-up season. They were 1-6 in November/December and 6-1, going into the Gordon game in the new year. They are still the best team in the CCC South. I wonder if they’re capable of doing Gordon a favor in upcoming games with Endicott and Colby-Sawyer?
Gordon put 30+ minutes on all five starters. “We were forced to play some guys longer minutes but we were rested coming in and we have tomorrow (Sunday) off,” explained Coach Schauer. “Next week the minutes will probably be more spread out.”
Mike Herr was the top scorer with 21 points matching his best output of the season against Johnson State. Justin Kaufman added 14 points and seemed to enjoy dealing with the backcourt pressure he faced.
The Hawks had no one score in double figures. I have never known that to happen in any college game I’ve watched.
John Beebe (senior Clive IA) and Tim DeLuca (freshman Gray ME) both saw their most minutes of the season. Not seeing John drain at least one open 3 was a big surprise. Maybe having his brother Scott watching was the problem………….Is the music so loud at the Bennett Center because the audience is hard of hearing or because someone wants the audience to become hard of hearing??……………The student cheering section had another big game. They seemed to get particularly excited after Jon Marstaller rejected a breakaway lay-up and later when Coach Mike Tully ripped off his jacket after a tough-to-take non-call…………………..A number of folks came wandering into the game well-dressed and late. Many of them had been to former Coach Hal Murdoch’s memorial service in Beverly Farms in the afternoon. The Gordon basketball program got its start under the direction of Coach Murdoch. Those were the days when many college teams didn’t have their own gyms, traveled to games in cars with players driving, and stayed with families in the areas near the site of road games. For Gordon it was a time of fierce rivalries with Christians schools such as; Barrington, Kings, Nyack and ENC. Gordon dominated Barrington for years until finally scoring the last 19 points in a row in a game and finally beating us at Beverly Memorial. Their President was so thrilled that he called school off at Barrington the following Monday to celebrate! Kings College was the team that Gordon seldom beat but the rivalry never let up because the coaches (Murdoch and Wilhelmi) wouldn’t let it and the students really got into it. Imagine Duke/North Carolina at the D3 level. One time Coach Murdoch was so upset with the refereeing at Kings College that he went deep into his bag of tricks when Kings came up here to play at Hamilton-Wenham Regional. He had two of his former players dress up in referee outfits and come strolling out onto the court as the teams warmed up. Kings was all set to pull their team off the floor but the real referees finally made an appearance and the game went on. The Gordon basketball program owes a lot to Coach Murdoch.