(Game #25 – UNE) Scots Are Regular Season Champions!

by Peter McClelland
(Wenham) – There was plenty of “feel good” in the air as Gordon wiped out visiting UNE, 76-38, on Saturday afternoon at the Bennett Center ending the regular Commonwealth Coast Conference season as champions.
“Being the regular season champion doesn’t have the same connotation as being the actual conference champion but it involved staying the course in a season-long struggle and I’m pleased with that,” said Gordon Coach Mike Schauer afterwards.
Now eight teams move into the do-or-die segment of the season and by being the regular season champ Gordon gains the home-court in any playoff game they’re involved in. 
The Scots entered the UNE game having already secured the home-court advantage based on a tie-breaker over Endicott.  “Everyone was talking about how we had wrapped up the regular season,” said Coach Schauer.  “I didn’t feel like we had.  I didn’t want to share the top spot with Endicott.”
So for the team to get where the coach wanted them to be they needed to defeat UNE, even though they didn’t have to, and did they ever.
Those of us who witnessed the first meeting between the University of New England and Gordon on January 30th at Biddeford (66-33 Scot win) and this one saw plenty to like both times.  UNE Coach Jon Hayes told me after the first game that, “when his team goes bad, it goes real bad.”  Fortunately, for Gordon they were part of that scenario both times.
UNE (5-20 overall/5-11 in the CCC) ends up with an undistingushed record but when you examine their season and see that they defeated Colby-Sawyer twice, and Curry, Salve Regina, and Eastern Nazarene once each you realize that they can be dangerous. 
On Senior Day at Gordon things went about as smoothly as a Scot fan could hope for, however.  Jerry Logan, Mike Herr, Heidi Hakes and their families were honored before the game started and then Gordon never trailed from wire-to-wire.  Every team member saw extended minutes. 
When it was over the talk was of the road ahead which starts on Tuesday night at seven o’clock versus Salve Regina at the Bennett Center.  SR (8-8 in CCC) closed their season at Endicott today and went down to a one-point loss just as the Scots had on Tuesday night.  “We played very well against Salve down there (68-51 win January 13th),” explained Coach Schauer.  “They provide a multitude of matchup problems but we do for them as well.”
They switched the starting time at Endicott so SR Coach Sean Foster was in the house to take in the first half of the UNE/Gordon game.  After watching the Scots pour in 9-of-15 from beyond the arc in just the first half I suspect that perimeter defense will be a significant item on SR’s practice agenda.
Gordon would end up connecting on 14 long ones before this one was over in easily their best output in that category.  “One of our goals in the game was to contest every shot and we did that early,” said Coach Hayes.  “What can you do when a team makes contested shots?” 
One thing you end up doing is watching the scoreboard light up.  Ten minutes into the game freshman Brady Bajema (Whitinsville,MA) already had three from long-range while senior day honoree Mike Herr (Lampeter,PA) had a couple.  Under such a barrage the visitors got down, 23-6, and on this day there was no coming back.  Sophomore Tim DeLuca (Gray,ME) rediscovered his outside shot in the last five minutes of the half and added three 3’s of his own and Gordon led, 41-22, at halftime.
“We actually didn’t play a great, great first half,” said Coach Schauer.  “We just shot the lights out.  They got eight offensive rebounds and obviously by my one outburst I didn’t like some of the stuff we were doing defensively.”  That outburst was an interesting mix of Mount St.Helen’s and paint-peeling decibels and it certainly appeared to jolt the team into a better effort at the defensive end the rest of the way.
The Scots continued to enjoy the home-court setting in the second half.  This time it was Mike Herr on fire clicking on three straight long ones while Brady Bajema and Tim DeLuca netted one each.  Gordon had an 18-point scoring streak in the midst of this and with nine minutes left the cows had left the barn, 68-27. 
The rest of the way we got a good look at players we generally only see in the pregame and had a chance to size up their potential as contributors in the seasons ahead.
“I took Jerry and Mike out with about 13 minutes left with the intention of giving them a minute at the end,” said Coach Schauer.  “However, with the way the game went it wouldn’t have looked very good to put them back in so I didn’t .  Knowing them, I’m sure it didn’t make any difference.”
So Gordon ends the regular season at 18-7 overall and 13-3 in the CCC.  The Scots were 22-3 overall last season and 15-1 in the CCC.  “The difference between 22-3 and 18-7 is a little bit of luck,” explained Coach Hayes giving his take on the Gordon season.  “One year things go your way and another they don’t.  They are a talented veteran team.”
The long-range shooters (Mike Herr, Brady Bajema,Tim DeLuca) paced the Gordon scorers.  They combined for an amazing 13-for-18.  I kept thinking that it might be nice to save a few of those for the playoffs.
Roger Williams and Wentworth are in the same playoff bracket with Gordon.  RW is the only team the Scots didn’t defeat this season.The other bracket has Nichols at Endicott and Colby-Sawyer at Curry…….I was pleased to see Jerry Logan (Marietta,GA) score the first points of the game finding an opening down the lane for a lay-up.  How many times did we see him do that over the past four years?  It didn’t surprise me one bit to see him assume the servant role over the latter stages of the game offering water to the reserves during timeouts………The Scots set season highs in forced turnovers (23) and steals (16) against UNE………Junior Mike Schnackenberg (South Portland,ME) has turned up the intensity level over the past few games, as I see it, and will make teams pay in the playoffs if they concentrate too much on Jon Marstaller.  He also has made eleven straight free throws………..Mike Herr hitting a three?  How many t imes did we see him do that from the wing?  On another team he might have averaged 20+ points per game but at Gordon he settled into the team concept and forced very few shots………Why is this so late?  I opted to beat projected bad weather and get to Pennsylvania last night for a birthday celebration this afternoon down here.  I expect to be on hand for Tuesday’s 7PM event.

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