By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) – “We’re starting to become a team that is hard to defend,” explained Gordon coach Mike Schauer after watching the Scots overwhelm visiting New England College, 84-56, on Thursday night at the Bennett Center in Commonwealth Coast Conference play.
Sometimes the scoring opportunities come and go but not in this game. The New England College defense had all sorts of trouble keeping the ball out of the paint. “We didn’t have the answer for Gordon’s inside game,” said Pilgrim coach Charlie Mason. “They only made seven 3’s. The difference was what happened in the paint.”
Coming up big for Gordon on the inside were Jon Marstaller (6’5” sophomore – Naples ME) and Mike Schnackenberg (6’6” sophomore – South Portland ME). Jon matched his high-point total for the season with 23 points and in the process got the first 11 points of the game and 17 in the first half. Mike had his best scoring game of the season getting 19 points. His previous high was 13 against Salve Regina in December.
And by the way, that’s 13 wins in a row to go along with a record of 18-3. But I know the routine…………it’s only one game etc., etc., etc.. Know now that if this team can win their next seven games they’re the CCC champions! I know, I know, one at a time let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
The game was played in an atmosphere that felt like jet lag. “The game just had no energy to it and I’m not sure exactly why,” said Coach Schauer. “It may have been (for us) the two days off from practice we took this week.”
The energy level may have been down but there were silver linings. “When you shoot 58% and put 84 points on the board you have to be doing some good things.” added Coach Schauer.
Those good things were on offense. “We’ve got a lot of work to do defensively,” he continued. “Some people are starting to make assumptions that aren’t true.” Meaning? We’re good but for this winning streak to continue we have to improve.
New England (10-11) played the game with Gordon at Henniker (NH) minus high-scoring guard Pat Quinn. This time Pat was available but Gordon’s guards defended him into a scoreless game. The Pilgrims also had to deal with the absence of Kingsley Onyechi who is out with a dislocated shoulder. “Kingsley is one of the top five players in our league,” said Coach Schauer. “We would have had a lot fewer opportunities in close if he’d been available. Any time you lose your best player you’re going to be a different team.”
This game was competitive for a while (six minutes) as the Pilgrims quickness offset Jon Marstaller’s inside effectiveness. The visitors never led in the game but did tie it at 11-11 on a lay-up off a turnover by Dwayne Miller. That’s where the good news ended for the Pilgrims.
The next six minutes saw the Scots go on a 14-3 run and grab a double-digit lead, 25-14. During that spurt Jon Marstaller collected a rebound and put in a backwards, over-the-shoulder shot that had me wondering how he even saw the basket.
Not long after that Gordon ran nine straight including a Tim DeLuca (6’2” freshman – Gray ME) three and the lead stretched to 19 (38-19). New England cut the advantage to, 43-28, by halftime.
The Pilgrims got a little closer (54-38) after eight minutes but they lacked the ability to stop Gordon from finding high-percentage shots regularly. A bit of a cool down by New England and off went the Scots to a, 59-39, spread with nearly 10 minutes left. Mike Schnackenberg sparked a late spurt of nine straight that gave Gordon close to a 30-point lead at the end.
The Scots travel to Nichols (Dudley MA) for a 3 o’clock encounter with the Bison on Saturday afternoon hoping to add to their 11-1 conference record. Nichols got blown out by Curry tonight but they’re still dangerous at home.
New England travels to Roger Williams on Saturday.
The Pilgrims had three guards on the floor most of the game. That quickness paid off with nine steals including four by freshman Bobby Montrond. However, what was gained in quickness was neutralized by the mismatches Gordon found down the other end………………………….Justin Kaufman (5’11” sophomore – Redding CT) was CCC Player of the Week last week. In this one he handed out six assists. He leads the CCC in assist/turnover ratio……………….John Beebe (6’1” senior – Clive IA) won’t force any shot and can bury open 3’s. He had three in this game……………..For Jerry Logan (6’ junior – Marietta GA) the last three games have been like pre-season after a knee injury kept him out of the previous six games. You know that things aren’t quite in sync yet when he has four turnovers and tosses a 3-point shot in off the backboard……………………I have told New England coach Charlie Mason several times that his team is getting better. He wasn’t buying it this time. “Every year we come here it’s a 30-point game.” Last year Gordon lost the game at New England. They have no seniors on their team…………………….Mike Herr (6’5” junior – Lampeter PA) has seen his 3-point shot desert him (1 for 12 last three games) but his slashes to the basket are turning up baskets and foul shots. He did a nice job defending New England’s big man, Antoine Sylvia…………………….The difference between the atmosphere for the previous home game (Endicott) and this one with New England was truly remarkable. The next home game is Tuesday against a scrappy University of New England team.