By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) – Gordon got back on the winning track as they topped winless Eastern Nazarene 72-58 on Saturday afternoon at the reactivated Bennett Center in Commonwealth Coast Conference play.
The Scots, now 11-4, confront their rivals down the street (Endicott) at the Bennett Center on Tuesday night. The Gulls lost tonight at Colby-Sawyer. That gives them their first CCC loss. Gordon has two CCC losses. Therefore, the Scots can put themselves in a tie for the top spot in the CCC North with a win on Tuesday.
After the ENC/Gordon game both coaches had plenty to say afterwards about the shooting – it was pathetic. ENC continues to be tormented by bad foul shooting – 54% for the season. Those stats will go down after the Crusaders clanged their way to an 8-for-20 showing from the charity stripe in this game.
“I was an 87% career foul shooter in college,” lamented first year ENC Coach Jon Yeh afterwards. “I can’t relate to this. We shoot 75% in practice.” He even asked me if I could teach someone foul shooting!
About all that ailing (over 100 degree temperature) Gordon Coach Mike Schauer could say about his team’s shooting was, “that it was nice to win a game in which you don’t make shots.”
Gordon’s problem was from long range. They only connected on 5-of-28 attempts. Remember that this game was at Gordon not in some unfriendly setting.
The variety of shooting woes for both teams made this a close game for a lot longer than someone knowing the team’s records might have suspected. In fact there had been five lead changes when junior Luc Jasmin spun in for a layup knotting the score at 35-35 at the 16:20 mark of the second half. Over the next 4+ minutes the Scots regained the upper hand and with a 13-2 surge put distance between themselves and the Crusaders that would hold up the rest of the way.
In a desert of misfirings a stretch of accuracy was like an oasis and worth describing. All five Gordon players on the court contributed points in one fashion or another.
Junior Justin Kaufman (Redding,CT) had a layup after he brought the ball up the court and noticed that his defender had no sagging defensive support under the basket. Instead of slowing up to set up a play as he usually does he went straight in for a score.
Junior Jon Marstaller (Naples,ME) hit a three that Coach Yeh described as a “killer.” Gordon passed the ball around for about 32 seconds before Jon launched the accurate long one just before the 35-second clock sounded.
Senior Jerry Logan (Marietta,GA) saw daylight after a Jon Marstaller screen and nailed a high-arc jumper over 6’7” Luc Jasmin.
Senior Mike Herr (Lampeter,PA) and junior Mike Schnackenberg (South Portland,ME) teamed up on a give-and-go in traffic. Mike Herr made a nice catch on a fast pass and then made the layup with plenty of company around him. Coach Yeh said of that play, “We nearly had our hands on the ball several times in that possession.”
The other points in this decisive surge were free throws by Jerry Logan and a layup by Mike Schnackenberg.
Take away that run of successful offense and this game might have reached the nail-biter zone. But it didn’t get there although the Crusaders got to within six a couple of times – 48-42 and 50-44. Freshman Brady Bajema (Whitinsville,MA), at the four-minute mark, connected on a three to restore Gordon’s double-digit lead (59-48) for good.
Jon Marstaller and Justin Kaufman were Gordon’s scoring leaders with 18 points each.
Jon had an interesting time in close with shot-blocking defender Luc Jasmin. What separates Jon from most of the other big men in the CCC is that he has 3-point range. He was 2-for-4 from out there and when he’s on the perimeter he has to be defended and that at times opened up the interior for his teammates.
Justin came close to a double/double getting a season-high 9 assists to go along with his 18 points. He’s gotten to the level where you wonder if some of his turnovers couldn’t have been credited to the intended receiver. It was good to see him get 35 minutes after he hobbled out of the Wentworth loss last Thursday.
It was nice to have an air of excitement back at the Bennett Center. That Blue Sea is a difference maker. Ask any Gordon player.
Those on hand were treated to the biggest crowd-stirring play (the jam) four times in this one. Twice by both teams. I can’t remember more than two in any previous home game.
Jon Marstaller got one in the first half after he picked up a loose ball that occurred when Brady Bajema seemed, to me, to block a Crusader pass with his head. Jon sailed in from half-court for a two-handed stuff.
ENC junior Jean-Paul Marcellus registered the next two jams in the second half. On the first one he went to the basket alone after forcing a turnover and soared to a two-handed backwards dunk. Later he took an inbounds lob and put down a two-hander.
Mike Schnackenberg and Justin Kaufman combined on the 4th one. Junior Keith Krass explained to me at the Hall of Honor banquet that the play hadn’t come from the bench but that Justin had signaled it to Mike. At any rate Justin lobbed the pass and Mike dunked it.
What added to the excitement level was that Jean-Paul’s second dunk and Mike Schnackenberg’s dunk came on consecutive plays. It was like watching the NBA!
Before the game Mike Herr was presented with a basketball commemorating his 1000th point scored earlier at New England College. He took that ball directly to his parents………………Coach Yeh saw poor free throw shooting and giving up 18 offensive rebounds as what did his team in…………Coach Schauer said he wasn’t upset at halftime despite only leading by two points. “We just couldn’t make shots.”……………Freshman Aaron Trigg seems to have hit the wall shooting wise. Even the one basket he made in this game used every part of the rim before falling through…………”Most of ENC’s games have been close. They just struggle to make shots at times.” – Coach Schauer…………The Hall of Honor inductees were introduced at halftime and given their plaques at a banquet this evening……………I saw Rebecca Carroll go down in pain late in the ENC/Gordon women’s game. The trainers came out and Gordon Coach Cavallaro came out to comfort Rebecca. But what I also saw a distance away from Rebecca was five Gordon players in a tight circle praying. What a testimony and what spiritual maturity!………In my opinion rebuilding Endicott is ripe to be beaten but Gordon will need an upgrade in their long-range shooting to do it. Endicott has won the CCC tournament three years in a row. Their students are still on semester break so the Blue Sea has a chance to be very intimidating. It should be a good one.