(Wenham) Gordon (22-4) cruised past Endicott (12-13) in surprisingly easy fashion, 73-52, before a huge home crowd to win the opening round of the Commonwealth Coast Conference tournament on Tuesday evening.
The win puts the Scots into the Final Four for the 4th straight season. Thursday night the opponent will be Colby-Sawyer which did a number on Nichols (82-65) tonight at home.
Thursday’s game is at the Bennett Center (7PM) and hopefully the same supportive crowd will be on hand again. For this game, I saw sections of stands opened up that I didn’t know existed and there were students filling them!
Gordon/Endicott games in recent years are always close. In two meetings, the teams split the results. Endicott broke a tie in the last minute in December to win at the Bennett Center. In late January, Gordon broke a tie in the last two minutes to win.
That’s why this one was so surprising. Gordon took the lead midway through the first half (13-12) on a JT Himmelstein trey and never trailed thereafter.
A 9-2 run over the final three minutes of the half put the Scots in front, 33-21, at halftime. Gordon’s last three points came from a how-many-times-have-we-seen-this corner shot by Aaron Trigg on a pass from Brady Bajema.
Again, those familiar with the rivalry expected some sort of Gull response in the second half but after Mike Rhodes’ layup cut the halftime lead to 38-27 the Scots rattled off seven straight. Now the Gulls were in serious trouble, 45-27, …………. but fifteen minutes were left.
However, even the worrywarts in the crowd began to relax several minutes later after Gordon exploded for thirteen straight to put this one away, 65-36, with 4:40 remaining. Jeff Derr started this run with a crowd-pleasing breakaway jam. Brady also came up big in this stretch with a trey, two assists, and two foul shots.
The Gordon defense was extraordinary from beginning to end. Brady shut down Graham Whitelaw (12.5 points per game) completely. For that matter, Endicott didn’t have anyone score in double figures.
The CCC released information today that most of us already knew – Aaron (Player-of-the-Year) and Brady (1st team All-League) are terrific players.
Aaron led all scorers with 16 points and in the process moved past Steve Heintz into 4th place on the all-time Gordon scorers’ list with 1546 points.
Brady had five assists to go with 14 points. The CCC’s best free throw shooter connected on 11-of-12 attempts. I already mentioned the defensive job he did on senior Graham Whitelaw.
Endicott limited Gordon’s 3-point looks but the Scots found openings in closer to the basket as a result.
Endicott used full-court pressure but Gordon reacted well to it especially in the second half. During that half the Scots had six turnovers but two of the them came in the last 1 ½ minutes when reserves from both squads filled the court.
The Gulls were not helped by the fact that freshman starter Lance Greene was unavailable because of a foot injury.
Andrew LeClair, one of Colby-Sawyer’s all-time greats, now an assistant coach, was in the house taking notes.
Gordon is back in the Final Four for the fifth straight season. Twice in the past four seasons, it has been Colby-Sawyer ending Gordon’s season. The Chargers were the last team to defeat the Scots this season (74-63 at New London on February 9th). I know, what’s the good news? Gordon is playing at home and coming off a wonderful win over rival Endicott.
The Endicott turnout must have been impacted by the fact that the Gull women were playing at the same time at Endicott. Some of the Gull fans on hand probably wished in the second half, as the Endicott deficit mounted, that they had stayed home too.