(Wenham) Gordon (5-3) turned up the defense in the second half and put away visiting Wheelock, 66-50, in nonleague action at the Bennett Center on Tuesday night.
The Scots team defense was excellent in the second half (Wheelock shot only 22.2%) but individually it was the full-game defense of Ben Gaskill that was an eye-catcher. Matched up against the Wildcats top scorer (Sherard Robbins – 16.8 PPG) Ben contested the Wheelock senior into a 2-for-15 evening and just 4 points. Ben also took in eleven rebounds to extend his double-digit rebound games to four straight.
With the win, Gordon (5-3) puts behind it the painful losses to Endicott and MIT. Ahead is the Union College (Schenectady NY) tournament on January 4th in which the Scots take on Union in an 8PM start.
Wheelock (4-2) hosts Endicott on Saturday. The Wildcats basketball program is in just its third year of existence. This season they have seven Commonwealth Coast Conference teams on their schedule.
The Boston-based school has the disadvantage of playing/practicing away from campus at Pine Manor in Chestnut Hill. Anyone tuned into Gordon’s basketball past can recall the pre-Bennett Center, pre-Rhodes Gymnasium days at Hamilton-Wenham Regional, Bessie Buker in Wenham, and before that Beverly Memorial.
The Boston Globe had a nice article on Wheelock basketball.
Those of us at the Bennett Center didn’t know how this game would end up after one half. The score was tied (29-29) and the lack of whistles (nine total fouls) was noticeable. I understand that teams can defend without fouling but this was ridiculous.
In that whistle-free first half the Scots built up a 24-15 advantage after thirteen minutes before Wheelock’s run of ten unanswered points put them in front, 29-26 with two minutes left. An Aaron Trigg 3 accounted for the tie score at halftime.
Of special note in that first half were the nine Gordon assists. I will never get tired of watching Aaron and Brady set each other up for three’s. That maneuver has happened so often over the past seasons that there isn’t a team on the Gordon schedule that doesn’t try to prepare for it. A telling measure of the Wheelock defense was that both shooters had open looks that they hadn’t seen for a few games.
The Wildcats got the lead in the second half after a possession in which Jeff Derr had two blocks. Eric Rice fielded the second block and hit a jumper. Wheelock was ahead 36-35 after three minutes.
The next 5 ½ minutes were all Gordon. The defense tightened team-wise and those who normally carry the scoring load for the Scots carried it. Brady hit a couple of three’s assisted by Aaron and Aaron notched a couple of layups one assisted by Brady. Also in this 13-2 run, Greg converted a rebound. The 6’7” junior totaled a season-high thirteen boards in this game to go with sixteen points.
This crucial surge gave the home team a 48-38 lead with 11:20 to go. Not insurmountable normally with all that time left but with first-rate, Gordon team defense out in force, Wheelock couldn’t get closer than eight points the rest of the way.
A stat that didn’t materialize was Wheelock steals. They came in averaging 12 per game and I assumed that they would press effectively. They did get eight steals but most of them came from Gordon frontcourt lapses. No, I’m not going to beat that point-guard dead horse again!
Aaron has had four 20-point games in his last five. The only exception was the short-minutes ENC blowout.
TOMORROW (Wednesday) night you might want to check out a game in the Midwest. The Washington University Bears (2009 D3 national champs and currently ranked #1 in D3Hoops) are hosting the Wheaton Thunder (ranked #8 in D3Hoops). The Bears are undefeated and Wheaton has lost once. The Washington website says the game will be fed live. I think that game starts at 8PM our time.
I trust that the significance of Christ’s birth does not get lost in the numerous distractions of the days ahead. “Wise men still seek Him.”