By Peter McClelland
(Henniker NH) – Disappointment was in full bloom at New England College after Gordon routed them in the second half winning, 76-46, on Tuesday night in Commonwealth Coast Conference action.
The Pilgrims had just defeated a good Wentworth team on Saturday and had beaten Gordon last year at Henniker. The optimism started to unravel when top-scorer Pat Quinn’s back problems kept him out of this game. Then five minutes into the second half another key player, Kingsley Onyechi, fell and never returned possibly dislocating his shoulder. As they say, “If it wasn’t for bad luck they’d have no luck at all!”
“They played a good part of that game without their two best players,” said Gordon Coach Mike Schauer afterwards.
The Scots had all sorts of trouble putting the ball in the basket early but Coach Schauer wasn’t upset. “Our shooting was awful in the first half and yet I was still very pleased. I’m sure that surprised the team. The only thing we didn’t do is make shots.”
When the shooting accuracy picked up the Scots took off on a game-winning run. Behind, 24-20, in the last two minutes of the first half they went on an 18-2 spurt over the next seven minutes extending into the second half. Now down, 38-26, the Pilgrims finally got a lay-up from Kingsley Onyechi (6’6” sophomore) to end the Gordon run. Next play Onyechi injured his shoulder trying to block a shot and was out of the game for the last 15 minutes.
The Pilgrims were in trouble with just Pat Quinn (26 points vs. Wentworth on Saturday) out. Add Kingsley Onyechi (19 points/12 rebounds vs. Wentworth) to the missing and no great second-half surge was expected or came close to materializing. Gordon maintained its lead (53-38 with 8 ½ minutes to go) and then put together a ten-point streak with lay-ups and foul shots to bust this one wide open, 63-38.
Coach Schauer found playing time for all 14 players on his roster down the stretch.
“Our team is buying into a simple philosophy: You can win if you defend every night,” explained Coach Schauer. “We lost up here last year because we lost our composure defensively. This year we just keep guarding and if that puts us in low-scoring, close games, that’s fine with me.”
Gordon is now 12-3 overall and 6-1 in the CCC. They’ve won seven in a row including five on the road. Next game is Thursday night versus non-conference Newbury at the Bennett Center.
New England slides to 8-7 overall and 3-3 in the CCC. They have Endicott at home on Thursday. Good luck to them if they try to defeat our neighbors without Quinn and Onyechi.
You needed to see a score sheet to see where the points came from for Gordon. They did make eight 3’s but there were a lot of lay-ups on the end of unselfish passes. “These kids are unselfish,” said Coach Schauer. “I had nothing to do with it. They were parented that way.”
Aaron Vogelzang (13), Justin Kaufman (12), Jon Marstaller (11), and Mike Herr (11) all reached double figures and only Jon put in 30 minutes of playing time.
Ryan Jaziri (5’9” sophomore) paced New England with 13 points. “Once we got Aaron (Vogelzang) on him later in the half, as Assistant Coach Jeremy Martin had recommended, we were able to contain him some,” said Coach Schauer.
With a hockey game going on at the same time there were plenty of good seats to be had at Bridges Gym. I have to admit that when I was at Gordon they had a hockey team that played in what is now the maintenance building parking lot……………The best matchup in the game was the battle of the point guards between sophomore Justin Kaufman and freshman Bobby Montrond. Justin gave Bobby the kind of going over that he took last year in his CCC rookie season. That match-up will bear watching when the Pilgrims come to Gordon in February………………….Mark Beebe returned after missing the previous seven games. Nice to see him connect on the only shot he took…………….Jerry Logan is getting closer to returning after missing three games……………….Granted New England was shorthanded but Gordon just out-rebounded another team! I guess good defensive positioning can lead to good rebounding stats…………..The Pilgrims had 2 and sometimes 3 players out there at once under 6’. That led to some juicy mismatches inside……………….To Coach Schauer it was great defense. To Pilgrim Coach Charlie Mason it was undetected muggings. As the night wore on the spread and the frustrations increased for the home team. Coach Mason finally got rung up for a technical foul. To the surprise of this reporter John Beebe missed both attempts………….Traveling roads in January that aren’t icy or snow-covered is truly a blessing……………The thing that I remember about Newbury (Gordon’s next opponent) from last year was traveling on the team bus to their campus and being told when we arrived there looking for their gym that they don’t have one…………………. I am looking forward to the rematch with Endicott next Tuesday at the Bennett Center already. They’ll have their chanting fans and we’ll have ours. Wouldn’t it be nice to go into that one riding a nine-game winning streak??