By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) – This season has taken the cake as far as excruciating losses are concerned. Add a 69-68 loss in the semifinals of the Commonwealth Coast Conference to Wentworth to the collection.
Let’s get the last-minute details out right off the top:
In front of the largest and most enthusiastic crowd of the season the Scots carried a five point lead (68-63) into the final minute after freshman Brady Bajema (Whitinsville,MA) drained a three from the wing.
CCC MVP Sherrad Prezzie-Blue, however, hit a tough three and followed it with a steal. Next thing we knew sophomore Todd Doyle found room to make a three in front of the Blue Sea. Those clutch shots put the Leopards in front 69-68 but there were still 25 seconds left.
Senior Mike Herr (Lampeter,PA) headed in for a layup but Weonard Bynes deflected the shot and Wentworth got the ball back. Ed Bolton was fouled but with 8.8 seconds left missed the front end of a one-and-one. The Scots raced down the floor and good Wentworth defense forced the ball out-of-bounds. With less than a second to go Gordon ran an inbounds play and inbounder Jerry Logan (Marietta,GA) found Brady Bajema. The talented freshman could only catch-and-shoot and his mid-range jumper went off the rim as the horn sounded.
Was that excruciating enough? Imagine how the 1000 of us in attendance felt!
“I thought that they made every shot they had to make,” said an obviously worn out Gordon Coach Mike Schauer afterwards. “If they miss any of them we win.”
“This year has been a struggle for reasons that had nothing to do with basketball. This loss just compounds it. We have an awful lot of guys back in the locker room bawling their eyes out and I don’t know really what to tell them.”
Todd Doyle hit the winning basket but Sherrad Prezzie-Blue is the reason the Leopards will be in the finals at Curry on Saturday night. The 5’11” junior tallied 30 points in the game including an astonishing 23 in the second half. And he put up those numbers with the defensive player-of-the-year Jerry Logan in his face throughout.
“You look at his stat line over the last few games and there’s no question he (Prezzie-Blue) deserved the MVP Award,” said Coach Schauer.
If you need a second reason for the Wentworth win go with sophomore Weonard Bynes. At 6’3” he’s not the tallest inside defender in the CCC but he has the timing to block shots. He had five in this one probably the most memorable being a rejection of Mike Herr’s attempt at a two-handed jam in the first half.
“Weonard had five blocks tonight and five against Roger Williams (in the quarterfinals),” recalled Wentworth Coach Tom Devitt. “Players step up and make you win. All of a sudden you look like a good coach.”
Coach Devitt has never failed to mention to me his high regard for Gordon basketball. “I still believe that Gordon is the class of the league. I can’t say enough about Mike (Schauer). They’re getting themselves on the national map and one game tonight doesn’t change that.”
Wentworth jumped off to a 12-4 lead at 15:45 and you couldn’t help but recall last year’s semifinal loss to Colby-Sawyer at the Bennett Center when the Scots had a bad first half and never recovered. However, that wouldn’t happen this year. A jumper by Jon Marstaller (Naples,ME) tied things at 15 and the teams left at halftime still tied, 25-25.
The Leopards went up by five a couple of times in the second half – 33-28, and 47-42 – after Prezzie-Blue 3’s. The Scots refused to go away. Gordon put together seven straight points on layups by Brady Bajema & Jerry Logan followed by a three by Jerry. That put Gordon ahead 49-47 with 10 ½ minutes left.
Later the Scots put together a 9-1 run on three’s by Justin Kaufman (Redding,CI), Jerry Logan, and Mike Herr as the home team looked to be pulling away, 62-55, with just 5 ½ to go.
But the Scots had only 3’s from Justin Kaufman and Brady Bajema over the last 5 ½ minutes and that poor point production opened the door for the visitors who made their last four shots.
“Our guys have nothing to be ashamed of,” said Coach Schauer. “They do have a lot to be disappointed in. We certainly had our chances to win this one.”
The Scots finish the season with a very good 19-7 record. They advanced to the CCC semifinals for the second year in a row and came within one defensive stop or made shot of going to the finals.
Replacing seniors Jerry Logan and Mike Herr will determine the fate of the 2007-08 Fighting Scots. Those two led Gordon with 18 points in their last game. It was a pleasure to watch #1 and #44 during the past four seasons.
Wentworth (16-11) gets to play Curry for the CCC championship at Curry on Saturday night. That dream (scream?) game of Gordon versus Endicott in the CCC championship at the Bennett Center will have to wait another year. Don’t bet against the Scots finding a way to get there next year.
Rookie SID Patrick Byrne did a fabulous job with stats all season long……………I continue to marvel at the dedication of parents showing up at games all over New England………I got to all 27 games this season thanks to cooperative weather or was it global warming…………The Blue Sea really established itself this season – good numbers and good volume. Maybe there should be some sort of college credit for being involved……………I intend to be around doing these games next season. If I have your email address now you’ll probably be hearing from me in November. My email list is over 100 now and after seeing at least 1000 people in the stands I figure that others might want to be added to the mailing list. If you can help I’d appreciate it…………………A number of coaches from other schools have mentioned next year’s schedule to me in interviews. I’ve read nothing official but apparently the CCC will be expanded to include Western New England College and there will only be one division. Teams would play each other once in league play……………Coach Mike Schauer and Assistant Coach Jeremy Martin have developed a terrific basketball program with expertise and determination. When Coach Schauer informed me that there was no chance of an at-large NCAA bid I asked him what he would be doing now. He said, “Recruiting.”……………I thank God for the opportunity to follow this team around. They have represented the college well in all sorts of circumstances putting their faith on display along the way.