(Dudley MA) It was Senior Day so what were Greg Walker and Austin Bentson supposed to do?
Nichols two seniors (Justin Aldrich and Dan Taylor) were honored before the game but it was Gordon’s two seniors having significant roles during the game in the Scots, 71-68, win on a rainy Saturday afternoon in Commonwealth Coast Conference action.
Greg scored at will in the first half (20 points) and ended with a career high of 32 points. He had 28 points last year at Western New England.
Austin (10 points) gave the Scots a third double-digit scorer. Equally significant was his defense on Ryan Sheehan (28 points). The talented freshman never found room to take a shot during the last 5 ½ minutes of the game! That’s defense for you!
The biggest shot of the game? Same as two days ago at Regis – Garrett Harden three. The Scots were trailing (68-67) with forty seconds left after two Dan Taylor free throws. Gordon got the ball inside to Greg and for good reason the Bison defense collapsed in around him. That help defense was costly to Nichols as Greg found Garrett alone in the left corner. He didn’t miss with fourteen seconds left.
Despite now trailing 70-68, Nichols had plenty of time and numerous 3-point shooters. As it turned out, they didn’t try for a three instead the pass went inside to Kyle Mascilak with plenty of Gordon defense around. Kyle mishandled the ball and David Dempsey came away with the steal and was fouled. David made one-of-two attempts (71-68) with only 2.3 seconds left. After a timeout, Nichols tried to pass the ball down the sidelines but Greg Walker was there for the interception to seal the deal.
This game had seven lead changes in the first 13 ½ minutes and eight lead changes in the last 5 ½ minutes. In between, Gordon had a 17-3 run over six minutes which Nichols answered by putting up fifteen straight in just under four minutes of action.
Both of those runs were impressive. Gordon took a 30-27 lead with two minutes left in the half and six minutes of playing time later going into the second half had extended their advantage to 47-30. Greg had ten of Gordon’s seventeen points.
Later a Luke Hamilton three had Gordon still holding that 17-point edge (52-35) with thirteen minutes left.
I knew that Gordon wasn’t that much better than Nichols. The Bison had lost to Anna Maria by five, Colby-Sawyer by three, Roger Williams by five, and Endicott by one in overtime. The Scots had only four turnovers in the first half. You knew the storm was coming, you just didn’t know how bad it would be.
Nichols started to connect from everywhere and during the next four minutes rolled off fifteen unanswered points. Five turnovers by the Scots hurt them. Ryan Sheehan contributed a 3-pointer, a jump shot, a layup, and two free throws. That pretty much covers all the shooting stations!
That run of offense brought Nichols to within two (52-50) with nine minutes left. The Bison finally took the lead (58-56) on two more Ryan Sheehan free throws with 5 ½ left. Those were to be Ryan’s last points. I saw both Austin and David Dempsey defending him the rest of the way.
David (12 points) saw just six minutes in the first half after a couple of quick offensive fouls. There was no water but there seemed to be plenty of dives.
Greg’s 20-point first half drove Bison coach Dave Sokolnicki crazy and rightly so. Minus any shot blockers, of the Sam Herrick (Wentworth) and Erik Callo (Endicott) type, Greg had his way on possession after possession.
More help defenders appeared around Greg in the second half. He still contributed ten points including 6-for-6 from the line.
As I pointed out earlier, all that concern about Greg led to that game-breaker three by Garrett in the last minute.
Sophomore Kyle Mascilak had a double/double (14 points/10 rebounds) for Nichols. Justin Kuntz added ten points.
For the second time this season Gordon had more assists than turnovers. The previous time was the November win at Endicott.
SID Hillary Haynes offered me a seat at the scorer’s table and of course I accepted. You go from reading lips from the stands to getting an earful of coach/player interactions. One gem was a timeout called by a player after he reported that he didn’t know the play the coach had called.
Anyhow, a big win for the Scots. They are now finding ways to win after that tough stretch with Roger Williams, New England, and Endicott.
Next opponent is Colby-Sawyer at the Bennett Center on Tuesday night. Like Nichols, they have a talented freshman – Robbie Burke.
In two weeks the Scots will be playing their last regular season game at Salve Regina in Newport RI. Will the team be among the top eight in the CCC then and looking ahead to tournament play?
By the way, Derrick Neal of Regis reappeared today, and led The Pride to a win over Endicott in Beverly.