By Peter McClelland
(Wenham) Gordon avoided a last-minute, anyone’s-game scenario by putting together a run of efficient offense over the final 3:25 and ran away from Endicott, 66-57, before a boisterous home crowd in a non-conference game on Tuesday evening.
Neither team played particularly well on offense for any length of time up until the final three minutes. “I think that some of our poor play had to do with the way Endicott played us,” explained Gordon Coach Mike Schauer. That meant tight man-to-man defense with shot-blockers inside – 6’8” freshman Justin Martin had four blocks.
“We were good defensively for most of the game and it showed at the end,” said Coach Schauer. Specifically in the last minute we saw Ben Gaskill (sophomore-6′9″-Columbus OH) force Sam Evans into a tough shot followed by Scots forcing a couple of Gull turnovers.
“Every time it was necessary to make a play they did and we didn’t,” said Endicott Coach Chris Millette afterwards. And while the Gulls were getting those three unproductive possessions with the game on the line, Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT) was hitting four straight free throws and forcing the second turnover that he converted into a breakaway layup.
“I thought that our two seniors, Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME) and Justin who did not have great games, really stepped up toward the end and made some plays,” said Coach Schauer. Jon earned the compliment for his late-game play by hitting a long one from in front of the Gordon bench to give the Scots the lead for good, 51-48.
The Gulls graduated their two top scorers: Nemanja Marinkovic (13.7) and Mike Sullivan (12.2). Marinkovic, especially, brutalized the Scots rebounding, passing, and scoring in all eight games he played against them. Not having him available as the go-to guy on offense really hurt the Gulls.
The Blue Sea was out in force filling an entire 13-row section of the bleachers. They made their presence known early and throughout and probably got into the heads of some of Endicott’s seven newcomers. I’d like to think that their biggest impact is on free throw shooters. The Gulls ended up at a weak 50% (7 for 14) from the line.
“We were 50% from the free throw line for the 6th straight game,” said a frustrated Coach Millette. “You just can’t do stuff like that and win games.”
Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS) gave Gordon its first lead, 5-4, after getting a pass from Justin Kaufman. Endicott quickly moved back in front with 5’10” Bobby Montrond converting a rebound into a layup. The Gulls held onto the lead for the rest of the half pushing it as high as 23-16 with five minutes to go on a couple of fastbreak baskets by Todd Burton and Tom Connor. The Scots cut six points off that lead during the rest of the half and ended the half with Jeff Derr (sophomore-6′8″-Barrington IL) draining a last-second three on a feed from Justin Kaufman. Endicott was ahead, 29-28, at the half.
“At halftime I noticed that we’d been outrebounded 25-14,” said Coach Schauer. “To me that meant that they had competed harder than we had.”
Gordon shot a whole lot better in the second half (55.6%) and were only outrebounded by three rebounds.
A couple of highlight plays from Aaron Trigg enabled the Scots to finally pull ahead. The former track/football star from Kansas turned on the jets after a steal for a breakaway layup and then threw an accurate ¾ court pass to a breaking Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME) for a second layup. These two exciting plays gave the Scots a, 42-38, advantage with 13 minutes left.
The Gulls answered with a nice run of seven points featuring a three from Bobby Montrond, and inside work from Todd Burton and Tom Connor and put Endicott in front, 47-44, with 7 ½ left. The rest of the way it was the home team that made most of the shots (outscoring the Gulls 22-10) and as a result coming away with a, 66-57, win.
Next for Gordon (5-1) is an extra game with another Commonwealth Coast Conference foe, Eastern Nazarene, on Thursday evening at the Bennett Center.
Endicott (1-5) plays a couple of games this weekend on the road in New York City.
The Gulls started last season 1- 4 before turning things around. “We tried to schedule some tough out-of-conference games and we haven’t done well,” said Coach Millette. “We’ve got some questions that need to be answered.”
SID Pat Brynes estimated the crowd at over 1000. Surprising to me was how few Endicott fans were on hand. Their numbers are sure to swell when Gordon visits Endicott on February 2nd. I wonder what part of the Blue Sea will make the trip over there.
There were a couple of Presidents on hand although one of them arrived late and could well have missed my reminder of the early start in the last article.
The top scorers for Endicott were; Tom Connors and Sam Evans with 12, and Bobby Montrond, Graham Whitelaw, and Todd Burton with 10 each.
Jon Marstaller paced the Scots with 16 including 12 in the second half. Aaron Trigg added 15 and Justin Kaufman had 13.
It didn’t escape me that Todd Burton hit the first basket of the game. Who among the Gordon faithful will ever forget that killer three he drilled in the last second at Endicott the last time the two teams met? And then to calmly sink the winning free throw. That’s the stuff of legends!