(Henniker NH) 5-8 Andrew MacDonald never drove to the basket in this game. What the senior captain did, however, was launch 3’s. He made his first and then missed six straight.
New England College called time with sixteen seconds left trailing 54-53. You wonder how the Pilgrims will go about getting that point back. Gordon sits in a zone as Troy Prather inbounds to Andrew. As Andrew dribbles several steps beyond the 3-point line you assume he’s looking to get the ball inside. Suddenly he fires up a shot from several steps beyond the arc. Swish!
(I overhear a student at the scorer’s table afterwards say, “That certainly wasn’t the way it was drawn up.”)
But there are still 8.6 seconds left for Gordon to go the full length of the court and do something about the 56-54 deficit. Before you have time to see where Gordon will get their final offense from, turnover #23 occurs. Austin Bentson tries to inbound to JT Himmelstein and Michael Ingram-Rubin steals the pass.
Michael passes to Troy Prather who gets fouled. Troy makes both pressure shots (58-54) with 4.5 seconds left.
Gordon now needs a 4-point play. New England lets JT unload a shot from beyond midcourt that goes in (58-57) with .7 seconds left. The Scots deflect the inbounds pass as the game ends.
The Pilgrims had heroes aplenty in the end game. Troy not only sank the two key free throws but earlier tied JT up for a jump ball that gave possession to New England with sixteen seconds left.
Both teams had segments where they looked to be in charge. Gordon (6-11) dominated much of the first half by eliminating the Pilgrim’s top scorers (Shane Hennessey and Joe Faragher). They only had two points between them.
The Scots jumped out 11-5 after five minutes and later 21-13 with five minutes to go in the first half. All that good defense went up in smoke as taking-care-of-the-ball woes kicked in. Over the next 3 ½ minutes Gordon committed six turnovers and let the Pilgrims get a 25-25 tie at halftime.
The inability to take care of the ball under pressure is a disaster waiting to happen. Second half – first/third/sixth possessions turnovers! Fortunately, New England (15-3) missed seven shots in a row so the damage was slight.
Later, a couple of 3’s by Jason Minerva (13 points) helped NEC draw away 39-32 with eleven minutes left. The Pilgrims were doing a terrific job of keeping the ball away from Greg Walker (10 points). You didn’t like our chances the rest of the way.
However, this is why you show up to watch……….you never really know what will happen.
David Dempsey (20 points) led the Scots on a great run of basketball over the next 6+ minutes. He drew fouls, made a jumper, and added an old-fashioned 3-point play. The result was a 19-3 explosion that had Gordon in front 51-42 with 4:49 left.
I wasn’t comfortable with that lead because of this team’s turnover tendencies. In previous seasons, the ball got handled well enough to force a trailing opponent to foul. This season, even a team like NEC, which averages 6.6 steals per game, finds a way to get twelve against the Scots.
The Scots still led, 53-45, with 3:48 left before the unraveling began. Gordon had eight point-less possessions the rest of the way out of ten possessions. The Pilgrims closed out 13-4 and won the game.
Frustrating to say the least. The Scots are now 2-4 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. If Gordon doesn’t make the 8-team tournament they should look back to one-point losses to Roger Williams and NEC with chagrin.
I didn’t want the Scots to lose but after the fact I feel glad for NEC coach Charlie Mason. He’s been coaching in Henniker for nine seasons and taking his lumps for eight of them, never coming close to a winning record. Here he is now at 15-3 and 4-2 in the CCC.
When the Scots shut down Coach Mason’s two best scorers. he (finally) has other players to pick up the slack. Gordon, on the other hand, can’t find a third point producer. So even when Greg and David combine for their average of thirty points the team can still struggle.
It was a nice change to actually have Pilgrim fans in the seats. Believe me, that’s a change. In previous years, the fans in attendance would sooner or later be hollering for a player at the end of the bench to be put in.
Another thing about the gym at NEC is that the fans are right on top of the action. You quickly hear and see that there is plenty of contact away from the ball.
Luke Hamilton’s parents and his sister were in the house.
I looked out this morning to 10” of snow in Newburyport. Thought there was no way I’d get to Henniker. But a couple hours later the driveway was cleared. I’m guessing that there was little snowfall in Henniker.
Part of my motivation in seeing the game was wanting to see Greg get to 1000 points. He didn’t get there. He needs six more. It would be nice to see him reach 1000 in a Gordon victory.
Saturday afternoon Endicott will be at the Bennett Center. Gordon’s early season win at Endicott should rev up the Gulls. They were missing at least one starter last time. It may be time for the student section to carry the Scots to a win.