(Wenham) Gordon won their first-round game in the 5th annual TipOff Classic with a, 68-63, victory over visiting Oneonta State on Friday night at the Bennett Center. Tomorrow night the Scots will be in the championship game against William Paterson. Oneonta State faces Wesleyan in the consolation game.
The Scots have won every game (nine) they’ve ever played in this tournament. Some have been close and this one against the visiting New Yorkers was in that category.
Gordon trailed, 34-32, 2 ½ minutes into the second half before putting together a 19-5 run over the next seven minutes to grab, what appeared to be, a commanding, 51-39, advantage.
In front of a vociferous partisan crowd and 4 ½ hours from home, you might have expected the Gordon margin to increase. You might have been wrong. Over the next five minutes the lead was slashed to three (60-57) with still over five minutes left as Red Dragon high scorer (Ryan Morin – 18 points) hit a jumper in the lane.
However, the rest of the way the visitors couldn’t make the one big shot that would have tied the game. They had the ball with 12 seconds left, still down by three – 66-63, and had a decent look at a three but Ryan Greene’s long one glanced off the rim. Aaron came up with the rebound, was fouled, and sealed the outcome with two free throws.
Gordon is now 3-0 but will be facing iron in the next four opponents – William Paterson, at Husson, at Endicott, and Salem State. When a trip to Endicott looks like the easiest game, you know things are tough ahead!
Oneonta’s poor long-range shooting (one for eight) truly was a difference maker. Brian Beckford made the first one attempted but the rest were missed including the game-tier in the last few seconds.
The Scots, on the other hand connected on five of nine from deep including two within the second half spurt that gave them the lead for good.
Jeff Derr came back after short minutes (11) against MIT and went to work inside collecting five layups with an assortment of spins. He also led the team in rebounds with seven. No team yet has been able to deal with him very well if he gets the ball in close to the basket.
The hard part for Gordon in this game was getting anywhere because of a superb defensive effort by Oneonta. And the job that Shane Gillette did on Aaron was terrific. Aaron was defended into a 3-14 evening and ended up with few open looks. However, when the game was in the balance (last 12 seconds) he collected a rebound and made a couple of free throws.
The Scots continues to be susceptible to one-on-one moves in the last ten seconds of defense. The Red Dragons had way too many layups and in-close jumpers. Coach Schauer played more zone in the second half than he has throughout all of the last six seasons, in my opinion. Why? Too many easy baskets otherwise. Fortunately, for the Scots, the visitors couldn’t find any zone busters.
It’s now three-for-three in teams pressuring Gordon in the backcourt. And now we can add a team that trapped just over halfcourt. That trapping worked a couple of times and led to breakaway layups during Oneonta’s second half comeback. Prepare for that pressure to continue for the rest of the season because, well, Justin Kaufman has graduated and teams want to tire Brady and Aaron out and also steal a couple of easy baskets. So far, teams have not tired either player out but pressure has led to some grievous giveaways.
Tom Devitt (coach of Wentworth) just “happened” to be in the area, maybe he saw a light on, and took in the game. He told me that Sherrod Prezzie-Blue is now playing professional ball in England for the North Hampton Neptunes. I wonder if that team has a website.
I talked to Jeff Bajema (Brady’s dad), the coach of Whitinsville Christian, and learned that in Brady’s junior year the school was Massachusetts Division 3 state champs. He also told me that another one of his players, Jon Himottu, had come a long way considering that the first time he picked up a basketball was in 9th grade.
A team has to have different ways to win in order to have a great season. Oneonta defended Aaron into a 3-for-14 evening but the rest of the Scots were a sizzling 20-for-32. Brady’s 6-for-7 led the way.
I will not be on hand for the Paterson game or the Husson game at Bangor. “Where are my priorities?” you ask. My choices were Turks & Caicos or those games. What would those of you in the readership have done? Thought so. Now I don’t feel so guilty.