(Beverly MA) On a night when the #2 seed (Wentworth) and the #3 seed (Eastern Nazarene) were upset, Endicott (#4 seed) kept it from happening to them as the dispatched Gordon, 86-76, on Tuesday night at Endicott.
The Gulls win earns them a Commonwealth Coast Conference semifinal match on Thursday night in Dudley (MA) versus #1 seed Nichols.
Endicott (16-10) had a win over the Bison in December and a loss at home to NC in late January. Endicott is the defending CCC champion.
The #5 seed Gordon team struggled big-time against the top four seeds (Nichols, Wentworth, Eastern Nazarene, and Endicott) during the regular season ending up with just one win against seven losses.
It was erratic offense that doomed the Scots tonight against Endicott.
For sure the Endicott stars were out in full force. Sometimes you wonder about players getting chosen for All-CCC teams. You ask the, “How did they get there?” question. With EC tonight, their three members on the ALL-CCC teams (Max Motroni, Kemahl Walker, and Daquan Sampson) all showed up in force.
Let’s get the Efficiency Chart out here to prove my point:
Kemahl Walker 23 (22 pts/5 reb/4 assts/3 steals)
Max Motroni 21 (21 pts/5 assts/0 turnovers)
Drew Sawyer 17 (10 pts/5 reb)
Sam Johnson 16 (10 pts/15 reb)
Daquan Sampson 15 (15 pts/8 reb)
There’s no way Gordon wins this game with just one player in the top five!
The scoring lapses were the real killers. The biggest two were in the first half. Minus the two of them the Scots would have been around at the end of the game with a good chance.
Let’s review the two droughts.
First one – Gordon got off to a surprisingly good start. EC missed and missed and missed and Gordon was up 9-3 at 15:28. Three + minutes later the Scots are still at “9” while EC had put twelve unanswered together to lead 15-9. Gordon missed three 3’s and added three turnovers during EC’s 12-point run.
Give GC credit, they got enough consistent offense together to close to within one (29-28) with 2:29 until halftime.
The rest of the way? Second scoring drought. Zero points for Gordon. The Scots missed all four shots they took. Meanwhile, Daquan Sampson riled up the crowd, estimated at 1200, with a dunk, 2 free throws, and a 3-pointer.
The math would suggest that there were six first-half minutes in which the #5 seed from Wenham did not score a single point. Those were the minutes that cost Gordon the game.
The Scots trailed by ten (38-28) at the half.
Not insurmountable. Plenty of time left. A big second half by Sam Johnson (10 rebounds/8 points) and four 3-pointers got GC within six (74-68) with 3:47 remaining. A couple of stops and some steady offense would make things very interesting. Didn’t happen. The next six points belonged to the home team (tip in’s by Taylor Rioux and Stephen Basden plus two Max Motroni free throws). Is anyone blocking out?? That run of six points put the lead back to twelve and this one was history.
The reality that the season was over settled in on the 12-point lead. Then it was a matter of getting GC’s two seniors (Richie Armand and Udoka Obiora) off to one last ovation. That got done.
Udoka had a wonderful final game making all five shot attempts. He also had a block. No question in my head that Udoka was the most improved player on the team. He and Graham Tienhaara played well enough to enable GC coach Tod Murphy to rest the inside starters Sam Johnson and Garrisson Duvivier.
Richie always looked to pass first. Nice to see him take the ball to the basket and then later take a steal in for a layup. Nice comeback for him this season after getting what looked like a career-ending injury last season.
There will be plenty of experienced players returning for the 2016-17 season. Gordon (12-14) should be highly regarded on paper with all those returnees.
Things I liked about this year’s team in no particular order: (1) rebounding – With the graduation of Hans and Jason I was fearing that teams would own the boards against Gordon. Not so. The combo of Sam & Garrisson turned out to be the best rebounding two-some in the CCC. (2) handling pressure – The Scots still had plenty of turnovers but most of them were in the half-court. Good passing kills pressure, not dribbling unless the defense is man-to-man. Most teams avoided pressing because Gordon could handle it. (3) pre-game dunking – I liked watching it. Many of the young reserves were good at it and it gave them a good chance to show off their athleticism.
Things I would like to see improve: (1) front-court passing/dribbling – Way too many turnovers. The ball needs to get inside but the passer and the receiver have to EACH do their part to make it happen. (2) the 3-point shooters have to perfect a second shot and also figure out how to get open – Eric Demers (7-for-last 29), Noah Szilagyi (4-for-last 24), Jake Haar (4-for-last-16). That 3-point shooting will improve if there is the threat of another shot. Trust me! (3) inside accuracy – Too many missed layups. Maybe it is fear of getting a shot blocked? Make the layup or get fouled.
The Scots finished the season losing four of their last five games. But even in the losses Gordon has been competitive. They have been supportive of each other on the court and on the bench. It has been a treat for me to photograph the action and attempt to describe it as well.
God bless Richie and Udoka. The rest of you? Get in the weight room and hone up your skills on the court. And please, don’t neglect the academics!
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)