By Peter McClelland
(New London,NH) – Sometimes terms such as “uphill” and “struggle” are thrown around describing basketball games. This Commonwealth Coast Conference game on Saturday afternoon deserved both descriptions.
Gordon got past Colby-Sawyer 59-56 in a game that was not only tiring to watch but also no doubt tiring to play.
The Scots put themselves downhill early by spotting the Chargers, who were honoring their two seniors (Tyler Fournier & Nate Truncellito), a 12-0 lead just three minutes into the game.
Gordon then set out on the uphill part finally taking a one-point lead (52-51) with just six minutes left in the game. Coast in from there? Not this time. A combination of good defense and fatigue just would not allow it.
There were four lead changes the rest of the way and Gordon got its biggest lead (59-56) of the entire game when senior Mike Herr (Lampeter,PA) calmly drained two free throws with 2.6 seconds left.
“It doesn’t matter how it looked,” said Gordon Coach Mike Schauer afterwards. “It’s going to stay in the left hand column.”
Gordon (16-6) and 11-2 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference has put themselves in the driver’s seat with the win at Colby-Sawyer. Even a loss to Endicott on Tuesday night gives Gordon the tie-breaker against our neighbors if the Scots can win their last two games at home against Anna Maria and UNE.
I hesitate to consider taking either of the last two opponents lightly even at home after reading that the top team in the CCC South (Roger Williams) lost today at home to Eastern Nazarene. ENC entered that game 0-21!
Despite the terrible start the Scots only trailed by two (36-34) at halftime. “At halftime I told them that they had just spotted Colby-Sawyer a 15-1 lead and that’s the bad part,” recalled Coach Schauer. “The good part is that they had won by 12 points after that.”
The second half was indeed a struggle as 18 total turnovers might suggest. Gordon was able to tie the score twice early at 39 and 41 thanks to points from freshmen Brady Bajema (Whitinsville,MA) and Aaron Trigg (Overland Park,KS). The Chargers followed with a run of offense that featured a backdoor cut by senior Tyler Fournier and a converted rebound by sophomore Duncan Szeliga sandwiched around a backboard, buzzer-beating three from freshman David Rosso. Therefore, at 14:15 the home team was up 48-41.
This turn of events set the Scots back to struggling uphill again and the stats the rest of the way show you how terrific a job they did against significant odds. Gordon outscored the Chargers 18-8 and the home team was pointless over the last 3:23.
However, it wasn’t until 1:34 when senior Jerry Logan (Marietta,GA) sliced in for a layup that Gordon had what turned out to be the lead for good – 57-56. I write, “turned out” because the Chargers had three possessions after Gordon took the lead and each one offered them a chance to get the lead back. On the first two senior Nate Truncellito launched three’s that missed and on the last one Tyler Fournier got trapped inside by junior Justin Kaufman (Redding,CT) and got whistled for traveling. Mike Herr was then fouled and iced this one with two free throws. Normal breathing among the Gordon faithful then resumed!
The loss was a tough one for Colby-Sawyer (9-13 overall/8-7 in the CCC). This has been C-S Coach Bill Foti’s first losing season in 16 years. There was a 5-year stretch where the Chargers didn’t lose any home games. They just suffered back-to-back home losses (Curry & Gordon) and that hasn’t happened before. C-S is clearly in the rebuilding mode but still nearly got Gordon this time. They will make the CCC Playoffs so we could see them again. Who wants to remember the number they did on the Scots (67-51) in the semis at the Bennett Center last year.
Is it too early to start the chant of “MVP,” “MVP?” Are you reading, Blue Sea? Junior Jon Marstaller (Naples,ME) is playing that well. The numbers against Colby-Sawyer had me thinking that this was his best game of the season. Jon got his 3rd double/double (19 points/10 rebounds) of the season to go along with a couple of steals. The head-turning number, though, was his seven blocks. Most of those rejected shots were taken in close to the basket. In a 3-point win those rejections look large. In addition, Jon played the last 5 ½ minutes with four fouls yet still contributed at both ends.
Brady Bajema played his longest minutes of the season (30) and collected 11 points and a couple of steals. What a career he has ahead of him!
Justin Kaufman (5’11”) found a way to two defensive rebounds in the last 1 ½ minutes of the game and defended Tyler Fournier into a crucial turnover at the end of the game.
The Charger seniors led them in scoring – Tyler Fournier (14) & Nate Truncellito (10). Down the stretch these two took the big shots.
Find a way to be at Endicott on Tuesday night. What would it feel like to quiet down that raucous crowd with a win? That is the only place left that Gordon has not won at during the Coach Schauer era…………It was good to seeing former Chargers Andrew St. Clair and Colin Bray sitting in the stands instead of torturing Gordon as they had on occasion over the previous four years……………Was there any reason for 45 minutes of very loud music before the game even started? Isn’t 20 minutes close to the legal limit? ………… How blessed we were to drive on dry roads into ski country in February……………The referees had just about everyone confused. They seemed to struggle most with trying to figure out what is or isn’t an offensive foul. In front of a more musically inclined audience a rendition of “Three Blind Mice” might have filled the air…………Coach Schauer: “We had a lot of reasons to lose today. We have a couple of players playing at about 70%. In addition there was a questionable three with a foul shot added in the first half and a second half three off the backboard. We hung in there and won because our effort was tremendous.”…………Jerry Logan found his way to the basket with the game on the line and handed out seven assists during the game against a very tight Charger defense.