(Milton) Curry 69 Gordon 63
Gordon had three tries against Curry this season and couldn’t get the job done in any of them. Their last try-and-miss was in the Commonwealth Coast Conference tournament final held today at Curry.
On this afternoon, neither team played very well. Blame the championship-game tension. Blame the noise that a crowd of 1,100 can generate. Whatever, it wasn’t what you would have expected from the top two seeds.
Gordon spent most of the game trying to catch up. Curry broke free from an 8-8 tie seven minutes into the game and never trailed.
The Colonels would boost their advantage to double figures in the first half. Their lead at halftime was, 32-22.
The Scots put a 7-0 run together (Park Thomas layup, Taylor Bajema three, and Luke Hamilton layup) in the second half to cut the margin to six (39-33) with fifteen minutes to go.
Plenty of time to complete the comeback but that good Gordon segment was followed by a missed layup and two missed free throws. Before you knew it Curry was ahead by ten, 45-35, and the Scots were back chasing again from a distance. The lack of consistency on defense and offense separated Gordon from the title.
Poor foul shooting was the first thing that came to my mind as the primary cause of the loss. But then I checked the online stat sheet and saw that both teams missed ten free throws.
The Scots made 8-of-10 foul shots during the last five minutes, including five straight at the end.
Curry was even better from the charity stripe in crunch time. Within five (61-56) and only 1:20 left, the Scots were clearly in the steal-or-foul mode. The steals didn’t happen so the Scots fouled the Colonels on each of the next four possessions. Curry calmly drained seven straight before an AJ Stephens miss. Lambros Papalambros hit two, Carlos Ribeiro four, and AJ Stephens one. Very simply, when foul shots had to be made, the Colonels were up to the challenge.
The best offensive players in the game were Sedale Jones (23 points) and David Dempsey (22 points). Both of them had excellent stat lines: Sedale – 23 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 1 assist. David – 22 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist.
Sedale achieved the top offensive efficiency rating with +26 and David was second with +22.
These two seniors will be sorely missed by their respective teams.
How did Curry win? Once they took the lead they made enough shots to keep it. Defensively, they took away Gordon’s inside game and played strong perimeter defense to lessen good looks. The wildcard was AJ Stephens. His size and mobility required help defense which limited him to ten points on 2-for-13 shooting. But five times he passed out of the coverage to weak-side cutters for layups.
Why did Gordon lose? Their good shooting of recent games took a big step backwards. The Scots had shot over 50% during the past five games, all part of the nine-game winning streak. However, against Curry their field goal percentage was only 40% (22-for-54). To get that percentage up to 50%, Gordon would have needed to make five more baskets. In a game you lose by six points, you can see where those five baskets would have gotten you.
The crowd was terrific. Plenty of cheering. Plenty of chanting. Gordon sent a busload of fans.
The best response to a chant was by the Curry crowd. When Sedale Jones put up a shot that missed everything, the Gordon crowd started in with, “Air ball, Air ball,” as they had done to Ryan Palumbo of Roger Williams and Derek Mayo of Wentworth. However, Curry answered the Gordon chant with, “MVP, MVP.” Sedale was the CCC’s MVP.
In the biggest game of the season, Taylor Bajema had one of his best games. He came in third in the offensive efficiency rating (+16). The sophomore had eleven points, five rebounds, three assists, and missed only one shot.
Remarkable season for Gordon. The Scots were 5-4 in the 2012 part of their season before dazzling us with 16-3 record in 2013. They were consistently good with different players stepping up in different games. They went from the team that found ways to lose to the team that found ways to win.
David Dempsey struggled during the 5-4 part of the season with a broken nose and the resulting distracting mask. Once the new year rolled around (minus the mask) he was, well, David Dempsey………effort, rebounds, and points. The talented senior managed to score his way up to seventh place in Gordon’s all-time scoring list with 1,463 career points. Along the way there was never a hint of anything less than 100% effort.
Seniors David Dempsey and Jordan Kelly won’t be part of the 2013-14 team but the rest of the team will be back. That bodes very well for next year’s team. There surely will be high expectations but hopefully the 2013-14 team doesn’t forget what happened to last year’s CCC champion Endicott team. The Gulls had most of their championship team back and the CCC coaches picked them to finish first……..they didn’t even make the tournament.
Plenty of credit for the terrific season goes to the coaching job done by Tod Murphy. The Scots won twelve more games than last year including six more in the conference. His role in helping Hans Miersma develop into one of the best interior players in the conference was substantial.
This finishes my eleventh year attempting to cover the Gordon men’s basketball games. I have greatly enjoyed the coverage part as well as the opportunity to interact with others who support the Gordon team. Lord willing, I expect to be back on board in November of this year.
Special thanks to my wife, Julie, for encouraging me to cover the games and for becoming one of the team’s biggest fans. Don’t get her started on missed foul shots or referees!
Top four in Offensive Efficiency Rating:
Sedale Jones +26
David Dempsey +22
Taylor Bajema +16
AJ Stephens +11
Team totals in Offensive Efficiency Rating:
The Offensive Efficiency Rating number is arrived at by subtracting the bad stats (missed field goals, missed free throws, turnovers) from the good stats (rebounds, points, assists, blocks, steals).
(All of the pictures above and below enlarge considerably if you click on them.)