By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) – “That may have been the worst we’ve ever shot in here for a half,” said Gordon Coach Mike Schauer afterwards.
Fortunately, for the Scots the off shooting ended at halftime. They came on strong in the second half and defeated Salve Regina, 63-56, at the boisterous Bennett Center on Tuesday night and now advance to the semi-finals of the Commonwealth Coast Conference playoffs on Thursday at home at 7PM against Wentworth.
It was two scoring runs by the Scots in the second half that did in the visiting Seahawks. The first streak was for ten points and it turned Salve’s biggest lead, 34-29, into a 39-34 deficit with 15 minutes left. Later Gordon ran nine straight after the Seahawks had cut the Scot margin to 45-43 and that produced a 54-43 cushion with 8:25 left that Salve never recovered from.
“We talked before the game and at halftime about not letting them go on big runs,” explained Salve Coach Sean Foster. “We knew that they had a potent offense and that their 3-for-16 3-point shooting in the first half wasn’t going to last.”
The closest the Seahawks could get during the last 8:25 was six in the last minute (60-54) but Gordon just wasn’t going to let this one get away. Credit junior Justin Kaufman (Redding,CT) for being the stabilizer down the stretch. He controlled the ball against pressure, used much of the 35-second clock on every possession, and slashed to the basket finishing layups. He had six of Gordon’s last seven points and managed the last four minutes of the game brilliantly.
Both of the game-deciding spurts featured three’s. Senior Mike Herr (Lampeter,PA) connected in both spurts while freshman Brady Bajema (Whitinsville,MA) added one in the second. “I just didn’t think that we could shoot poorly for two halves in a row,” said Coach Mike Schauer. “We have too many good shooters.”
Junior Jon Marstaller (Naples.ME) was named to the Commonwealth Coast Conference first team today and confirmed in this game that he deserved the honor. He tallied 20 points and has contributed at least 20 points in seven games this season. He also grabbed eleven boards. “Jon was the best player on the floor,” said Coach Schauer. “Not only was his scoring important but he rebounded very aggressively.”
The visiting Seahawks may not have had a stable of outside shooters but they did have sophomore Justin Woodworth (Ipswich,MA). With a goodly number of family and friends on hand, he exploded early in the second half for 12 of his team’s 18 points. “He may be as good a 3-point shooter as anyone in our league,” said Coach Schauer. “He really got going for a while but thankfully the newly selected defensive player-of-the-year Jerry Logan (Marietta,GA) was able to limit his touches later in the second half.”
“(Jerry) Logan in particular did a nice job with Justin (Woodworth),” recalled Coach Foster. “He was able to get through screens and be there on the catch.”
Seniors Jon Hazzard and Matt Grendal paced the Seahawk scorers. “It’s been a pleasure to coach those two,” said Coach Foster.
Gordon (19-7) now gets to face Wentworth. The Leopards took out Roger Williams on the road tonight in the first round for the second year in a row.
Gordon has played Wentworth twice this season. The Scots shot 60.4 % at home in a 79-62 win in early December. Later in a game played at Curry on January 18th Wentworth shot 57.1% in a 76-63 victory.
Coach Schauer believes that his team learned a lot being in the playoffs last year. The Scots got by Nichols in a miracle finish and then were beaten handily by Colby-Sawyer. “Frankly we were fortunate to win a game in the playoffs. But I think that we are better because we’ve been through the experience of the playoffs. We now have guys who kind of know how to persevere through the rough stretches and just continue to try and make plays. That’s what happened tonight.”
The Blue Sea (student cheering section) was absolutely fabulous. For the past couple of games they’ve been standing but saying little as if the national anthem was being played. This time they were on their game from beginning to end. They carried the Scots. They will be needed on Thursday night.
Did the closing of the Fitness Center have anything to do with the calisthenics routine that the Blue Sea did?……….Jon Hazzard is one of the great leapers in the CCC. “Jon had a big first half and was able to get to the rim. The second half Gordon rotated better and he ended up with jumpers.” – Coach Foster………………Junior guard Chris Goodridge had one of those “good news/bad news” games with an astonishing 13 rebounds but 2-for-16 shooting……………Sophomore Tim DeLuca (Gray,ME) needed just 11 minutes to produce a very important 10 points. He had 12 points in 12 minutes against UNE. We’re talking instant offense…………Freshmen Aaron Trigg (Overland Park.KS) and Brady Bajema survived their first playoff game. I suspect that they’ll up their production against Wentworth………….”We can have big scoring runs here (at the Bennett Center) but what I was really pleased with was that we held them to 56 points. We have a good chance to win anytime we do that.” – Coach Schauer……………Endicott plays Curry in the other semi-final match at Curry. Endicott won there by two points last time.