(Game #20 – Colby-Sawyer) Justin Kaufman Excels and Colby-Sawyer’s Home-court Mastery Ends

By Peter McClelland

(New London NH) – Finally, finally, finally and at last.  A trip to New London that doesn’t come up empty as every other one had in the past.

Gordon broke open a tie game in the last five minutes and for the first time ever defeated Colby-Sawyer at Colby-Sawyer. The final score was, 63-57, in this Saturday afternoon game in Commonwealth Coast Conference play. 

“I thought we just gutted this one out,” explained Gordon Coach Mike Schauer after.  “Their defense was tough as it always is here and ours was too.  There were times when I thought that both teams were playing in quicksand!”

Irregardless of what the teams were playing in it was Gordon that had an inside game and an outside game when this thing was on the line.  The Chargers, on the other hand, channeled everything to CCC MVP Andrew St.Clair (6’6” senior) on the inside.  Once Gordon took the lead Colby-Sawyer had no 3-point answers that they could rely on to spark a comeback.

The turning point in this game was a 2 ½ minute segment that started with 3 ½ minutes left. The Chargers got within one but Jon Marstaller (6’5” sophomore Naples ME) twisted his way in for a lay-up to make it, 51-48, with three minutes to go.  Gordon called a timeout after the made basket.  What happened next after the timeout surprised a whole lot of folks including the Charger players.  It was Charger ball and just as they were about to inbound it the Gordon players went into full pressure.  The inbounds passer panicked and the pass was picked off, I think by Mike Herr (6’5” junior Lampeter PA). 

I asked Coach Schauer about that out-of-the-blue, full-court pressure because I naturally assumed that they had set it up during the timeout.  I was quite surprised when he told me, “I had nothing to do with it.  Jerry (Logan) and Justin (Kaufman) came to me at the beginning of the season and said that they’d like to pick people up for the full 94 feet.  I told them then that I didn’t care and that they should do it when they wanted to.”  This season has had it share of big plays and that pressure and steal ranks right up there with the best of them.

I’m stressing its importance because the steal gave the Scots time to run their passing offense and look for an open shot from either inside or out.  Jerry Logan (6’ junior Marietta GA) found the open shooter in the corner and it was Justin Kaufman (5’11” sophomore Redding CT).  Bang, and now the lead is up to six, 54-48, with 2 ½ to go. 

Colby-Sawyer quickly went to their inside option, Andrew St. Clair, and he was fouled.  The Charger senior proceeded to miss both foul shots.  In fact, the second shot hit the rim and went straight down!  Both teams missed shots on their next two possessions before Jon Marstaller again found a way to a decisive lay-up.  That put Gordon on top, 56-48, with only a minute remaining.  The Scots then paraded to the foul line in that last minute and connected on seven foul shots to win this one, 63-56.

It’ll be hard to downplay the game that Justin Kaufman had.  Okay, five turnovers.  Other than that, though, he made enough positive plays to excite even his coach.  “That was the best college game of Justin’s career,” explained Coach Schauer.  “He keeps getting better and he’s had a great stretch lately.”  His 21 points were his highest of the season.  He set up five other baskets and had two steals.  He was 4 for 5 from long range and made that huge three during the decisive run late in the game. 

Justin’s role changed after Jerry’s injury back on January 14th.  Coach Schauer told him that he needed to take up the offensive load.  Mission accomplished.  I also thought that Justin did a very nice defensive job on the Chargers’ point guard, Colin Bray, who got caught for six turnovers including two in the last minute.

That “quicksand” thing that Coach Schauer was talking about was probably referring to the first half.  But one player, maybe they have quicksand in Vermont, stood out for Gordon.  It was Aaron Vogelzang.  He matched his highest point total in the last ten games in just the first half with 13 points.  A lot of teams have made the mistake of putting a lesser defender on Aaron and paying the price.  Those 13 points (17 for the game) were large because there wasn’t much offense to be found anywhere else for Gordon in a 25-point first half.

In the second half, however, Justin and Jon provided more than enough offense.  Justin got 15 and Jon 16.  For you doing the math at home, that’s 31 of the 38 points the team scored in the half.

All of Jon’s points came in that second half.  I think that Aaron’s hot first half and Justin’s long-range shots forced the Chargers to give up some of the help defense on Jon in close in the second half.  It seemed as if Jon had more room to maneuver and was able to put up a bunch of high percentage shots.  “He made plenty of big baskets for us,” said Coach Schauer.

Jon’s scoring was bound to erupt after getting just two points at Anna Maria on Thursday night and being shut out in the first half in this one.  In that Anna Maria blowout, though, it looked as if their entire zone defense was collapsed around him and insisting that everyone else from Gordon take wide open shots.  The open shots were taken and made and Jon seldom saw the ball in that one. 

One stat that will often give away the winner is rebounds.  The Scots showed a 20-11 advantage in the second half and won that battle of the board for the game, 34-28.  Jon topped Gordon with nine while Mike Herr had eight to go along with six steals.

17-3.  10-1 in the CCC.  12 game winning streak.  These are heady times for the men’s basketball program.  To turn back both Endicott and Colby-Sawyer in a five-day period is more than any optimist could expect, but it’s happened.  The goal for the final five games (New England/Nichols/UNE/Wentworth/Curry) must be to secure home-court for any game in the CCC tournament which starts of February 21st.  Meaning?  If the team can win 12 in a row why not 17?

The Scots next game is at the Bennett Center against New England College on Thursday evening.  Would that the crowd for the Endicott game makes another appearance.  Their numbers and encouragement will surely intimidate the opposition and inspire the good guys.

Colby-Sawyer (10-9 overall/ 8-3 CCC) saw Gordon end its six game winning streak.  They have to face a tough Curry team at Curry on 2/7 and later must deal with Endicott at New London. 

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Who would have expected temps in the 40’s and snow disappearing in New London in February? That’s supposed to be ski country!…………………Those 3-point shots troubled the Chargers during the game and at half-time as well as former Charger stars struggled from downtown……………..Justin knocked down four 3’s in both games with Colby-Sawyer…………………..Gordon has quite a number of scorers and so far when one is off the others pick up the slack.  Mike Herr gets two points in today’s win.  Jon Marstaller gets six points in the win over Colby-Sawyer at the Bennett Center.  You hardly notice it because others step up.  With an offense that features passing and unselfishness the Scots have become difficult to defend……………….Jon did a very nice job guarding Andrew St.Clair.  The CCC MVP of last year had 15 points but hit only 6 of 14 shots mostly from in close.  He came in with one of the highest field goal percentages in the CCC…………………Jerry and John Beebe (6’1” senior Clive IA) split time at the off-guard.  Both will put up solid defense and don’t need to force their offense because of the other scorers on the team.
 

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