Tag Archives: Brady Bajema

Gordon Wiped Out in Opener at Husson – Game #1

Nothing good to be found on the Husson scoreboard for Fighting Scots fans in the team's season opener.

(Bangor) “Well, there’s only one way to go………and that’s up,” was the way one optimistic player parent put it after Gordon’s, 88-42, complete fiasco against Husson University on Tuesday night.

I’ve seen almost all the Gordon games during the past eight seasons and there hasn’t been one like this one.  I’ve seen losses but not in all the ways this was a loss.

The Scots’ opener was a goner in the first ten minutes.  Gordon turned the ball over the first time they had it and Eric Modica (20 points/6 rebounds/5 steals) blew in for a layup.

The Scots hung around for three minutes trailing just 7-4 on a rebound conversion by Greg Walker and a Jordan Kelly layin.

Over the next eight minutes the home Eagles ran off eighteen unanswered points from inside/outside/anywhere while the Scots responded with eight missed shots and six turnovers in fourteen possessions.  This left Gordon down 25-4 (which ironically was their record last season) eleven minutes into the 2010-11 season. 

Jon Himottu (50) and Shaun Roach (11) saw playing time early.

During this tough segment, Coach Tod Murphy pulled his starters and we saw a lineup of Luke Hamilton, Shaun Roach, Matt Gibson, Caleb Perkins and Jon Himottu.  You’re going to need a program for the next game – Coast Guard at home on Friday night (6PM).

The Scots trailed 47-19 at the half and I think by now you have a pretty good number picture of how things went and would go.

The Husson defense was impressive.  The Scots struggled to run offense that opened up shots.  Greg Walker (9 points on 4-for-14 shooting) was defended by 6-10 Marc Zaharchuk down low and the Eagles sent help when Greg received a pass.  The scoring load needed to be picked up elsewhere and on this night it wasn’t.  The inability to run an offense efficiently was most troubling.

The Scot defense will have to get better.  I have seen better defense in pregame shootarounds – that’s an exaggeration!  There were way too many open shots off screens, backdoor cuts for layups, and dribble penetration. 

Both Gordon’s offense and defense are correctable.  It will take time and plenty of coaching I suspect and both are available before the Commonwealth Coast Conference schedule starts in January.

Starter Jordan Kelly took a charge in the second half and staggered off the court.  He did not come back.  I’m wondering about his availability for Friday’s home opener at the Bennett Center versus Coast Guard.

Jay Uhrin led all scorers with 22 points.

Jay Uhrin (22 points) and Eric Modica (20 points) had open shots that shooters dream about.  Husson passed the ball inside frequently and from there set things up for their scorers depending on the Gordon defense.  The Eagles shot 50% (33-for-66) from the floor. 

The crown was sizable but surprised me by leaving in large numbers with nearly five minutes left.  Maybe they needed to study?

There were actually radio timeouts during the game.  What this particular game didn’t need to be was longer!

Husson had the first-game glitch of having a box of the game include some of their graduated players – note the scratch outs on the box I’ve included. 

Husson had a mascot, some sort of band, and cheerleaders. 

Several parents made the trip to Bangor.  I found the Olive Garden, Best Buy, and Borders before the game.

Gordon had won the last two meetings with Husson.  The previous two were won by Husson.  I missed the game in Bangor two years ago but two years before that I was there to see little-used freshmen, Jeff Derr and Brady Bajema, get some playing time.  Brady is now on the coaching staff.  I wonder what he thought of this game?

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Filed under Gordon men's basketball 2010-11, Husson

Seniors Graduate on May 15th

Aaron, Mike, Tim, Ben, Brady, Justin, and Ben do some post-graduation posing.

(Wenham)  I was there and I can confirm it – they graduated! 

Aaron Trigg waits to march to graduation.

I was at Gordon on sunny/breezy Saturday morning (May 15th) and watched Jeff Derr, Aaron Trigg, Brady Bajema, Tim MacDonnell, and Ben Gaskill end their four years among us.

Last time I saw the five of them together was in March in Middlebury (VT) when the home team took out our Scots in the NCAA D3 tourney.  Who knew that Middlebury’s Andrew Locke would block thirteen shots and send Gordon to a first-round exit?

It was good to see all the players’ families together for one last time.  You always imagine that there are games ahead that they will attend but it seldom, if ever, works out. 

There was talk of everyone getting back together when the CCC tournament banner is put on display in the Bennett Center during the 2010-11 season.  That would be special.

I was very impressed with commencement speaker Jim Cymbala.  It wasn’t just the brevity of his remarks but the topic – the importance of prayer.  There was something there for all of us!

Coach Tod Murphy waves to seniors.

One comment that previous Gordon coach Mike Schauer used to make to me when I mentioned a talented player on an opposing team: “The important thing,” he would say, “was to make sure he graduates.”  And here is Tod Murphy at graduation, probably hoping that Aaron, Brady, Tim, Jeff, and Ben weren’t graduating!

Anyone on board knows that there are big changes ahead.  For starters, look at the team picture on Championship Saturday and delete the front row.  However, one of the trademarks of your Scots over the past eight seasons has been to graduate players yet still be able to qualify for the CCC tournament (top eight) every season.  Let’s be optimistic here! 

The other significant change, other than the roster, is the future of the CCC.  My understanding is that in two seasons Gordon and eight other schools (UNE, Endicott, Salve Regina, Roger Williams, Nichols, Curry, Western New England, and Wentworth) will form a new conference.  That will leave Regis, New England, Colby-Sawyer, Anna Maria, and ENC out in the cold for reasons I choose not to guess at.  It will be interesting to see how this all works out.

Anyhow, God bless Aaron, Brady, Tim, Jeff, and Ben.  And God bless your families as well.

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Filed under CCC Tournament, Colby-Sawyer, Curry, ENC, Endicott, Gordon College men's basketball 2009-10, Mike Schauer, New England College, Nichols, Regis, Roger Williams, Salve Regina, Tod Murphy, Wentworth, Western New England

Scots Fall to Middlebury in Opening Round of NCAA Tournament

Andrew Locke (#31) pictured here with Greg Walker blocked thirteen Gordon shots to set a Middlebury record.

(Middlebury VT)  Unless a team wins the national championship, the season must end with a loss.  Gordon got its final loss against Middlebury College (64-57) in the opening round of the NCAA Division Three tournament on Friday night at Middlebury.

Andrew Locke (6’10” junior) had folks buzzing throughout the game with his school-record thirteen blocks.  Besides blocking shots (to teammates), he also forced several Scot shooters to rearrange, and sometimes miss, what would have been easy inside shots against less dangerous defenders.  Andrew’s shot blocking and intimidation will be the core of discussion as this game is recalled in future years.

Gordon (24-5) never led in this one and had to rally back from double-digit deficits in both halves.  That they did rally back doesn’t surprise any of us regular followers of this team.

A ten-point run gave the Panthers a 27-14 lead with 7 ½ minutes left in the half.  Against the #9 team in the country (according to D3Hoops) that could have been the beginning of a blowout but Gordon put an eleven-point run together to get back into the game.  Greg Walker, Aaron Trigg, and David Dempsey provided the points as the Scots trailed just, 32-29, at the half.

The game-deciding segment lasted 4 ½ minutes early in the second half, as the Scots were outscored 15-2 and trailed 49-34 with thirteen minutes left.  Freshman Nolan Thompson (17 points) had two treys in the middle of this Panther success.

A couple of Middlebury students chanted, “Jesus loves us,” after the first trey.  I’m not sure what they would have chanted if their team had the fifteen-point deficit.

Brady Bajema (21 points) and Nolan Thompson (17 points) led all scorers

As in the first half, the Scots started the climb back into contention.  This time they rode the hot shooting of Brady Bajema (16 second-half points) to close to 57-52 with 1:40 left.  Gordon had the ball and a chance to get even closer but a steal and layin by Nolan Thompson clinched the outcome for Middlebury.

Greg (4-for-15) had a tough night because he was defended by The Shot Blocker.  Aaron (3-for-15) had it even worse.  He was defended by two-time NESCAC Conference defensive-player-of-the-year Tim Edwards and on the times he beat Tim off the dribble he was confronted by The Shot Blocker.

Tim Edwards, besides the defensive work, had eleven rebounds and twelve points. 

Charlie Gaskill, Rick Derr, and Tom Trigg watch the final minutes of their sons' last games.

Plenty of Gordon folks made the 3+ hour trip to support the team including the President and his wife.  The great turnout of parents was no surprise to any of us.  The numerous interactions my wife and I have had with them have been a blessing.  We’ll miss them.

Is there a greater loneliness than to be badly outnumbered on the road and trail the entire game in front of a chanting crowd?? 

We have now seen the last of the basketball exploits of Aaron, Jeff, Timmy, Ben, and Brady.  There were plenty of individual heroics over four seasons but the top memory for me of them will be their part in the win over Curry that finally captured the Commonwealth Coast Conference trophy.  We now know that it can be done!

Patti MacDonnell finds time to visit before the game.

It was good to see former Gordon standouts Scott Allenby, Aaron Vogelzang, Ryan Smith, Andrew Ellrod, and Jerry Logan taking in the action.

The future?  Lord willing, I’ll resurface in November, curious to see what the 2010-11 edition looks like.  Talk about holes to fill!

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Filed under Gordon College men's basketball 2009-10, Middlebury College, NCAA Tournament

Defensive Gem by Tim MacDonnell Seals Championship for Gordon in Title Game

( You Tube coverage of the last 3.6 seconds in Gordon’s win over Curry on 2-27-10 )

Timmy MacDonnell - Defensive gem by the senior preserves Scot win in title game.

Having now seen the video of those last 3.6 seconds, let’s look at what happened, at least as far as I could figure out. 

Brady had been covering Mark Mastrullo the entire game and Aaron had been covering Jarrell Jackson. 

During the final play, Aaron and Brady switched men because the two Curry players crossed so Aaron ends up with Mark in front of the Curry bench.  Brady then has Jarrell.  Meanwhile, Tim is on the other side of the lane with Mike Worrick on the weakside. 

As Mike Worrick drifts out toward the top of the key, Tim does not follow him but stays in the lane guessing at what Curry is up to.

Jarrell Jackson fakes out and then cuts backdoor.  Brady goes for the fake and Jarrell cuts backdoor cleanly.  Philippe Jourdain reads the backdoor cut and throws a bounce pass under Ben Gaskill’s waving arms to where Jarrell will be on his way to the basket. 

However, Tim was already on his way into the passing lane as the bounce pass is released and intercepts the pass cleanly.  He then plants his feet and lofts the ball into the backcourt allowing time to expire. 

Looking at the You Tube coverage, there’s no question that Jarrell was open and no question that the pass was to where Jarrell would have been in easy layup position. 

Tim’s play was remarkable under any circumstances but put it at the end of a conference championship game preserving a 2-point lead and you have to move into a different level of accolade.

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Filed under CCC Tournament, Curry, Gordon College men's basketball 2009-10

Gordon Wins First CCC Men’s Basketball Championship

Gordon team poses afterwards with CCC championship trophy

(Wenham) Gordon 56 Curry 54

The Scots won their first Commonwealth Coast Conference championship Saturday night at the Bennett Center and the first word that comes to mind to describe the game is “exciting.”

In the previous two tourney games, the Scots built up a comfortable lead in the second half and scared none of us in the end game.  Against Curry (15-13), the “comfortable” second half lead was only eight points and it shrank to an alarming two points in the last minute.

Timmy MacDonnell - Cutting the net after earlier cutting in front of a pass receiver to preserve the Gordon win

It’s never a good idea to let an opponent that is trailing by two points have the ball in the last few seconds.  But the Scots did and thankfully, Tim MacDonnell stole the inbounds pass to preserve that narrow lead. 

With the victory, Gordon (24-4) gets an automatic bid in the NCAA tournament at a site and date/time to be announced on Monday.  Gordon got an at-large bid at the end of the 2005-06 season and lost in their opening game to Utica (NY) at Worcester Polytech. 

The Scots took the lead for good with 12 ½ minutes left (40-39) thanks to two Brady Bajema (12 points/3 steals) free throws.  That lead would be eight (53-45) with four minutes left and six (56-50) on an Aaron Trigg (10 points/5 rebounds) layup with 53 seconds left. 

After that, things got verrrrrrrrrrry interesting.  Curry made a couple of shots (56-54) and then ended up with a frontcourt-inbounding situation with 3.6 seconds left.  Many bad, for Gordon, possibilities were easily imagined.  However, Scot defense saved the day as Brady and Aaron heavily defended likely shooters Mark Mastrullo (11 points) and Jarrell Jackson (11 points) and they weren’t open.  Ben Gaskill (6-9) prevented the inbounds passer from attempting any sort of lob pass and Timmy MacDonnell anticipated the interior bounce pass, stole it, and had the good sense to lob the ball down the court to let the clock run out.

Victorious Scots mobbed at game's end

As the buzzer sounded many of the Gordon faithful raced onto the court to congratulate the 2009-10 CCC champions.  Others just stood there in disbelief savoring the moment and trying to quell an accelerated heart rate. 

This was the eighth straight appearance for Gordon in the CCC tournament.  The first three years they lost in the first round.  The next four years they lost in the second round.  This time around, they overwhelmed Endicott and Colby-Sawyer in the first two rounds and then hung on for dear life in the championship event.

The Gordon crowd was loud and persistent and their part in spurring the Scots on over the last three tourney games can’t be underestimated. 

The Scots had an off game shooting, something that three games in five days, as well as practicing at Endicott on Friday instead of at the Bennett Center because of the power outage, will do to you. 

However, defensively the work Brady and Aaron did on Jarrell Jackson and Mark Mastrullo was key to this win.  Gordon can be thankful that neither of those Colonels had a shot at the basket in the crucial final play.

Brady Bajema (12 points) - David Dempsey (10 points)

Curry led in the early going but a David Dempsey (10 points/5 rebounds) layup assisted by Jeff Derr gave Gordon its first lead, 14-13, with 7 ½ to go in the half.  It took a couple of inside moves by Ben Gaskill (9 points/12 rebounds) late to give Gordon a slim 25-24 halftime edge. 

Early in the second half Curry put together a six-point run including a difficult layup by 5-7 Jarrell in traffic to build a 37-33 advantage with 14:50 remaining. 

But shortly thereafter Gordon put Curry in a hole that they couldn’t dig out of.  Over a four-minute span, the Scots went on an eleven-point streak and grabbed an 8-point edge (47-39 – 8:52 left) that Curry spent the rest of the game unsuccessfully trying to overcome.  During this run, the points came from David Dempsey (5), and two each from Jeff Derr, Tim, and Brady.  The Colonels turned the ball over three times during this crucial sequence.

Ben Gaskill awarded co-defensive player of the year in the CCC

Aaron Trigg - Ten points vs Curry and awarded CCC MVP award after the game

The final stats enabled several Gordon players to make progress on the All-Time lists.  Brady has moved ahead of Scott Beebe (1123) into 14th place in the all-time scorer’s list with 1132.  Ben is now third in the all-time rebounding totals with 566 putting him in front of Mike Herr (559).

I have not seen every Gordon game ever played as some suspect but I’m quite sure that this win over Curry and the CCC championship it brought was the Scots top all-time men’s basketball moment.  I wonder how those 1300 on hand will remember it in years to come.  I’m guessing that some of the Gordon faithful will say something like, “Remember the game Timmy MacDonnell stole the ball in the championship game to give Gordon its first CCC title.” 

Greatly appreciated was the rendition of the national anthem by a Gordon student.  I’m a fan of having everyone sing it.

It will be a while before I get over all the happiness and relief winning the CCC championship provided.  I will never cease marveling over the commitment parents from near and afar make to be on hand for these special moments.

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Filed under CCC Tournament, Curry, Gordon College men's basketball 2009-10, NCAA Tournament

Finally the Finals

(In James 4, it talks about making assumptions about tomorrow – “Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  I got home to Newburyport after the game with writing plans.  Twenty-two hours later the electricity has been restored, for which I am grateful.)

Aaron Trigg (27 points) hits a free throw late in front of a large Scot crowd

(Wenham)  What a game!  The efficiency of the Scots on both ends of the court, combined with the sixth-man level crowd made this a memorable evening.

It also got Gordon (23-4) past the semifinal CCC tourney hump that had eluded them during the past four seasons.

Gordon reached the unfamiliar finals of the Commonwealth Coast Conference tournament with their, 77-58, win over Colby-Sawyer (15-12) at the Bennett Center on Thursday night.

This was the eighth straight CCC postseason for the Scots but just the first time getting to The Big Game on Saturday night. 

Last season Colby-Sawyer ended Gordon’s season in the semifinals up at New London, but not this time.

The Scots took an 11-9 lead, 4 ½ minutes into the game on Aaron Trigg’s 3-pointer and never trailed the rest of the way.

Greg Walker (20 points) hit jumpers, jump hooks, and layups

The Gordon offense was consistently good (51% field goal percentage) from just about everywhere.  Aaron Trigg (27 points), Greg Walker (20 points) and Brady Bajema (16 points) led all scorers and gave the normally tight Charger defense fits all game.

Aaron had the long-ball going (5-for-7), made ten free throws and handed out five assists.

Greg picked up his defense on Jason Chevrefils (he had 19 points in the earlier CS win) and hit short jumpers to avoid the double-teams he faced when getting the ball closer to the basket.

Brady took the ball to the basket more than he has all season, made seven free throws and dished out seven assists.

Gordon’s defense was excellent as well. The CCC’s co-defensive player-of-the-year (Ben Gaskill) combined with Tim MacDonnell to stymie Jon Chaloux – top scorer in the CCC with 18PPG.  The last-game Charger suffered through a four-point game going 0-for-8 from the floor.  Ben also had ten rebounds.

Similar to the Endicott experience on Tuesday night, there was no history to suggest that Colby-Sawyer didn’t have the coaching, players, and big-game experience to give the Scots a bad night.  They had beaten Gordon three straight, including a 90-64 rout last February at the Bennett Center.

The Chargers were as close as 32-29 in the first half and the Scots lead at halftime was a very uncomfortable, 36-31.

The Scots came out in the second half unaware, apparently, about what was supposed to happen and built the lead to 43-32 in the first three minutes.  Twice Gordon broke down CS’s interior defense with Greg Walker as the finisher.

The lead was still double digits (51-41) with 13 ½ minutes left before Corey Willis nailed an NBA range trey to instantly cut the margin to seven.  The worrywarts from the Endicott game now resurfaced at the Bennett Center.

But Aaron answered with a 3 of his own and started Gordon on a 13-2 point spree over seven minutes that made things 64-46 with 6 ½ minutes to go.  Aaron had a couple of threes, Greg had a couple of layups, and Brady had three free throws.

Things got a bit dicey over the next two minutes as CS ran six straight but the Chargers would get no closer than twelve the rest of the way.  Brady and Aaron combined for 9-of-10 free throws in the end game. 

The Gordon crowd has been spectacular in both games.  They chose to give Charger freshman Corey Willis special chanting attention and he ended up shooting just 3-for-12.

Jon Chaloux - Held below 18PPG average by Ben Gaskill and Tim MacDonnell

The only negative I heard from The Pit was their late-game chanting of “over-rated” in senior Jon Chaloux’s direction after he fouled out of his last game.  Earlier that chant made sense but not when an excellent player has just ended his career.

In the same vein, it was classy of Aaron to step away from the foul line late in the game and applaud CS senior captain Dave Rosso when he exited for the final time.

The Curry Colonels (15-12) will be the Big Game opponent Saturday night.  They have been in the Big Game three of the last four years winning two years ago. 

Gordon defeated Curry, 74-68, in Wenham on January 23rd.  In that one, the Scots had 26 turnovers (all-time high?) but nailed eleven 3’s.  Curry features two CCC first-teamers – Jarrell Jackson and Mark Mastrullo. 

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Filed under CCC Tournament, Colby-Sawyer, Curry, Gordon College men's basketball 2009-10

Gordon Routs Endicott to Win CCC Tourney Opener


Tim MacDonnell launches a free throw during the closing minutes of Gordon's defeat of Endicott.

(Wenham) Gordon (22-4) cruised past Endicott (12-13) in surprisingly easy fashion, 73-52, before a huge home crowd to win the opening round of the Commonwealth Coast Conference tournament on Tuesday evening.

The win puts the Scots into the Final Four for the 4th straight season.  Thursday night the opponent will be Colby-Sawyer which did a number on Nichols (82-65) tonight at home. 

Thursday’s game is at the Bennett Center (7PM) and hopefully the same supportive crowd will be on hand again.  For this game, I saw sections of stands opened up that I didn’t know existed and there were students filling them!

Gordon/Endicott games in recent years are always close.  In two meetings, the teams split the results.  Endicott broke a tie in the last minute in December to win at the Bennett Center.  In late January, Gordon broke a tie in the last two minutes to win.

That’s why this one was so surprising.  Gordon took the lead midway through the first half (13-12) on a JT Himmelstein trey and never trailed thereafter.

A 9-2 run over the final three minutes of the half put the Scots in front, 33-21, at halftime.  Gordon’s last three points came from a how-many-times-have-we-seen-this corner shot by Aaron Trigg on a pass from Brady Bajema.

Again, those familiar with the rivalry expected some sort of Gull response in the second half but after Mike Rhodes’ layup cut the halftime lead to 38-27 the Scots rattled off seven straight.  Now the Gulls were in serious trouble, 45-27, …………. but fifteen minutes were left. 

However, even the worrywarts in the crowd began to relax several minutes later after Gordon exploded for thirteen straight to put this one away, 65-36, with 4:40 remaining.  Jeff Derr started this run with a crowd-pleasing breakaway jam.  Brady also came up big in this stretch with a trey, two assists, and two foul shots. 

The Gordon defense was extraordinary from beginning to end.  Brady shut down Graham Whitelaw (12.5 points per game) completely.  For that matter, Endicott didn’t have anyone score in double figures. 

Aaron Trigg - CCC MVP gets 16 vs Endicott

Brady Bajema - CCC first teamer gets 14 against Endicott

The CCC released information today that most of us already knew – Aaron (Player-of-the-Year) and Brady (1st team All-League) are terrific players. 

Aaron led all scorers with 16 points and in the process moved past Steve Heintz into 4th place on the all-time Gordon scorers’ list with 1546 points. 

Brady had five assists to go with 14 points.  The CCC’s best free throw shooter connected on 11-of-12 attempts. I already mentioned the defensive job he did on senior Graham Whitelaw.

Endicott limited Gordon’s 3-point looks but the Scots found openings in closer to the basket as a result. 

Endicott used full-court pressure but Gordon reacted well to it especially in the second half.  During that half the Scots had six turnovers but two of the them came in the last 1 ½ minutes when reserves from both squads filled the court. 

The Gulls were not helped by the fact that freshman starter Lance Greene was unavailable because of a foot injury.

Andrew LeClair, one of Colby-Sawyer’s all-time greats, now an assistant coach, was in the house taking notes.

Gordon is back in the Final Four for the fifth straight season.  Twice in the past four seasons, it has been Colby-Sawyer ending Gordon’s season.  The Chargers were the last team to defeat the Scots this season (74-63 at New London on February 9th).  I know, what’s the good news?  Gordon is playing at home and coming off a wonderful win over rival Endicott.

The Endicott turnout must have been impacted by the fact that the Gull women were playing at the same time at Endicott.  Some of the Gull fans on hand probably wished in the second half, as the Endicott deficit mounted, that they had stayed home too.

 box score

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Filed under CCC Tournament, Colby-Sawyer, Endicott, Gordon College men's basketball 2009-10