Tag Archives: Jon Marstaller

Roger Williams Ends Gordon’s Season in Semifinals – Game #27

(Bristol RI) “A lot of these games come down to the last five minutes and whoever makes the plays wins,” explained CCC Coach-of-the-Year Mike Tully after watching his Hawks take Gordon out in the semifinals 67-66 at Roger Williams on Thursday night.

The last 5 ½ minutes of this one really did the Scots in.  Up until that point Gordon never trailed.  In fact, they even had a couple of nine point leads in the second half (38-29 at 17:35 and 40-31 at 15:35).  While building up those leads Gordon played the way they had done in the win Tuesday night against Wentworth.  However, if you recall the second half of the Wentworth game the Scots ran into a lengthy scoring drought but the Leopards were far enough behind that they couldn’t take advantage.

Gordon wasn’t as fortunate against Roger Williams.  Hanging on to a 51-50 lead after an Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS) free throw with 5:48 to go the Scots went pointless in five possessions over the next four minutes.  Terrible timing because while Gordon missed, the CCC Player-of-the-Year Geoff Baringer didn’t.  The 6-10 senior (29 points in the game) broke down defenders for a couple of layups and then delighted the home crowd by converting a missed free throw for yet another layup.  Ryan McGinn added a couple of free throws at 1:37 to increase RWU’s lead to 58-51. 

Aaron Trigg finally ended the scoring disaster with free throws at 1:28 to make it 58-53.  It was still a two-possession game but junior Ryan McGinn took care of that with a three with 51 seconds left that Coach Tully could only describe as a “dagger.”  That Ryan ended up doing so much damage (13 points and 3-for-4 on 3’s) to Gordon was surely a big surprise to a lot of folks since he came into the game averaging 3.6 points per game and was only shooting 19.4% (7-for-36) from long range.

Ryan’s three gave RWU an eight point lead (61-53) in the last minute and prevented Gordon from getting within one possession of the lead.  The Scots did nail a trio of 3’s in the last twenty seconds but they were never shooting to tie or go ahead.  Therefore, the final score, 67-66, is misleading because Gordon’s last long shot by Aaron Trigg was made at the final buzzer.

Roger Williams now travels to Curry for the championship game on Saturday.  Curry became the #1 seed when they defeated the Hawks recently.  “Of course we’d like to have the championship game held here (and it would have been if Western New England had defeated Curry tonight) but the players want another shot at Curry,” said Coach Tully.  They will get what they wished for.

Coach Tully’s ability to elevate his team’s defensive effort in the second half was crucial.  “We didn’t have anywhere near enough intensity defensively.  They were doing whatever they wanted to.  We put in a couple of guys with about 14 minutes left after a timeout and things changed defensively.  A key player putting pressure on the ball was Travis O’Dell who hasn’t played in 2 ½ weeks.”

Coach Tully felt fortunate to beat Gordon.  “I say it all the time – I think that Gordon is the best team in the league.  Mike Schauer is a great coach.  His teams are difficult to guard and they guard real well.”

The Scots end 18-9 overall with a 9-4 record in the Commonwealth Coast Conference.  Remarkable at home (How does 14-1 sound?) they won four and lost eight away from the Bennett Center.  It may help that three of the CCC teams that beat them this year (Colby-Sawyer,Roger Williams,UNE) will be on the home schedule next year.

But any talk of next year opens up the topic of replacing the players the team is losing – Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT), Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME), Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME), and Keith Krass (Senior-6′2″-Beach Park IL).  Good basketball programs are going to lose good players from time to time.  Good basketball programs are also going to be able to rebuild around the players left.  We’ve seen enough of Brady Bajema (sophomore-6′2″-Whitinsville MA), Aaron Trigg, Ben Gaskill (sophomore-6′9″-Columbus OH), Jeff Derr (sophomore-6′8″-Barrington IL), and Tim MacDonnell (sophomore-6′2″-Jericho VT) to be very optimistic about the future.  Those players must, however, buy into the year-round dedication to basketball excellence that this year’s seniors bought into if that optimism is to turn into something special.  It can be done.

This crop of seniors, pictured at the top of this blog with their families, will be badly missed.  They’ve given us plenty of memories.  I would assume that they would be on hand occasionally during next season to offer encouragement and support.  I would assume that I would be asking them then what they’ve been doing.  I’ll also probably be asking them how their parents are doing because I’ve gotten to know them over the past four years as well.

God has blessed me in my being able to be on hand, and later describe, most of the games Gordon has played over the last six seasons.  I’ve been challenged often in sorting out the logistics that covering a game involves especially on the road.  However, the experience has been stimulating enough so that I look forward to doing it some more next season. 

Thanks again for the support and encouragement. 

boxscore Roger Williams 2-28-08

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Scots Head for Tourney on Winning Note – Game #25

(Wenham) “Thank you, seniors.”  That is what the sizable crowd (over 1000) chanted as this afternoon’s victory (66-64) over Salve Regina was secured at the Bennett Center.  The Scots ended the 25-game regular season with 17 wins.

In the Commonwealth Coast Conference, the Scots finished 9-4 and, because of their win over Salve Regina and losses by Western New England and the University of New England elsewhere, became the #3 seed in the tournament.  They will host Wentworth on Tuesday night at the Bennett Center starting at 7PM.

On a day when Gordon’s seniors were celebrated Coach Mike Schauer was quick to point out their major accomplishments: “Gordon has been 74-32 during their time here and over the last three years has not lost a home conference game.”

The Gordon seniors were honored but the most productive senior on the floor on this day was Salve Regina’s Steve Walsh.  The 6-7 post player totaled 25 points and spelled big trouble for the Scots anytime he got the ball down low. 

His efforts put that home conference streak in serious jeopardy and the outcome of this game was in doubt right into the final minute.  In fact, the Seahawks had four opportunities to tie the score in the last minute.

“I was proud of the way the team played today,” said Seahawk Coach Sean Foster afterwards.  “We could have packed it in since we didn’t make the playoffs.”  SR finished with seven straight losses and a 6-19 overall record.  In that losing streak they took #1 seed Curry into overtime and lost a close game last Saturday at Endicott and now this close one to Gordon.  As they say, if it weren’t for bad luck they’d have no luck at all.

The visitors used 3-point shots to build up several four-point leads (26-22, 30-24, and 36-32) which were their largest of the game.  The Scots biggest lead was 46-40 with 14:46 left after Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME) made an old-fashioned three and Brady Bajema (sophomore-6′2″-Whitinsville MA) followed with the new version.

Justin Kaufman 1000th 2-23-08SR tied the score (55-55) with just under six minutes left before a Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT) layin with 5 ½ to go gave the Scots the lead (57-55) for good.  It was vintage Justin – dribble in search of a lane to the basket.  How many times have we seen him do it? 

Here Justin is pictured receiving  a basketball commemorating his 1000th point before the game from Coach Schauer.

Steve Walsh brought the Seahawks within one point twice the rest of the way with a layup after a neat lob pass (61-60 at 3:26) and a converted rebound (63-62 at 1:35).  “Steve has finished the season strong,” understated Coach Foster.  “He’s very good in the post.”

Unfortunately, the Seahawks next points wouldn’t come until just before the final buzzer. 

Meanwhile, for Gordon, Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME) and Mike Schnackenberg combined beautifully (they’ve played together four years) for the winning basket.  Jon didn’t score in the last 17 ½ minutes of the second half but on this crucial play he got the ball down low and while spinning into the lane spotted a defender sliding his way to double team and found Mike alone under the basket.  This particular play (put Gordon ahead 65-62) and turned out to be large when SR came up empty on their next four possessions. 

Justin did his part in one of those unsuccessful SR possessions by falling on a loose ball near the scorer’s table and getting the benefit of the possession arrow. 

“I thought that we didn’t have a ton of energy in this one,” recalled Coach Schauer.  “I think that we were still tired from Wednesday’s circus (loss to UNE).  That wasn’t a game you walk away feeling very good about on any level.”

However, the season ended on a winning note and we get to see Wentworth again.  On January 12th the teams met and Gordon won 81-67.  If you archive the game story on that one you will be reminded of the following; Gordon fell behind 10-0, Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS) had 32 points including 25 in the second half, and CCC MVP Sherrad Prezzie-Blue of Wentworth scored just three points.  It may be a reach to expect any of those three things to happen again but you never know.

One quote that Wentworth Coach Tom Devitt told me he made after the loss that game to his team still rings true, “I told my team that championships aren’t won in January.  That happens the end of February.”  A week from today we’ll know which team is the best in the conference.  It could well be Gordon or Wentworth.

It was nice to see Keith Krass (Senior-6′2″-Beach Park IL) get a start.  How important was the basket he made when the final margin was two points?

Jeff Derr (sophomore-6′8″-Barrington IL) has made 34 of 36 free throws.  That’s an incredible 94.4%.  He can make 3’s and he can play with his back to the basket.  He’s become an important point contributor since his first double-digit scoring game against Curry on January 26th.

It was great to see a full house on the student side.  The noise level?  Very disappointing.  There were timeouts late in the game where the student section sat in silence.  Head back to the library if you want to be quiet.  Can anyone over there yell, “Give me a G?”  Sometimes a crowd can reach the “Sixth Man” level.  It might be worth striving for that level on Tuesday night.

boxscore Salve Regina 2-23-08
 

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“Any Road Victory is a Good Road Victory” (Game #23)

(Springfield) Let’s get the bad news out of the way first – Gordon took nearly five minutes to score and fell behind 7-0.  The good news?  Everything else that happened thereafter.

Gordon defeated highly regarded Western New England 67-59 on the road on Saturday afternoon and in the process clinched a spot in the Commonwealth Coast Conference tournament that starts on Tuesday February 26th.  Who their opponent will be and where they’ll play, will be decided league-wise over the final two games of the season.

Both Gordon and WNEC are now 8-3 in the CCC.  The Scots (16-7 overall) take their road show to Biddeford (Maine) on Wednesday night to face another team with three losses – the University of New England. 

Gordon Coach Mike Schauer was delighted with the win.  “It feels great because we have been struggling and haven’t played very well.  Now we’ll see if we can carry it over because UNE is every bit as good as Western New England.”

Let me pour that good news from this game on you, and there was plenty of it. 

The seniors that the coach was worrying about after the Colby-Sawyer game (Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME) and Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME)), were huge in this one.

 “Jon competed hard today,” said Coach Schauer.  “Sometimes all that it takes to do well is to play hard.  Athletics is a real simple business.  However, it’s not easy to get kids to play hard all the time.”  In this one Jon was a significant part of an interior defense that surrendered few layups and forced the Golden Bears to become jump shooters.

Mike returned to his double/double ways (3rd time in 4 games) and ended with 16 points and 11 rebounds.  He carried the team in the first half, scoring wise (12 points) and it was fitting that his layup on an assist from Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT) put the Scots in the lead for good, 21-19, at the 5:20 mark of the first half.

Let’s leave the seniors for a paragraph.  A couple of games ago Jeff Derr (sophomore-6′8″-Barrington IL) came off the bench in the first half to spark the Scots.  Today it was freshman Greg Walker (freshman-6′7″-Uxbridge MA) who provided a couple of baskets.  “Greg made some big shots,” recalled Coach Schauer.  “He is going to be a very good player.  He’s got to learn to play the other end of the floor a little bit but don’t we all.”

And Justin Kaufman?  This was a vintage Justin game.  He turned in his sixth 40-minute game of the season – he leads the CCC in average minutes played.  But the play from this game that I’ll remember for a long time happened in the last minute.  WNEC had closed to 61-56 with 1:18 left and were looking for a defensive stop.  Justin took the inbounds pass, and with WNEC’s best defender (Asif Abdul-Wadud) on him, went through nearly his entire repertoire of spins and dribbles before blowing by the excellent defender and down the lane for a successful lay-in.  Therefore, in one crucial possession he ate up 28 valuable seconds on the clock and boosted the Gordon lead to seven points when he was done.  Truly a memorable play!

Well, if you’ve looked at the boxscore you’re asking, “What about Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS)?”  I haven’t forgotten him.  Last time I saw him he was being hounded by the CCC’s best 3-point defense at Colby-Sawyer last Tuesday.  Not many good looks for him in that one but today was a different story.  Aaron was able to dial long distance ten times and got the answer he wanted five times on his way to 23 points.

Fifteen of Aaron’s points came in the second half and none caused more groans from the sizable Senior Day crowd then the buzzer-beating three he had with eleven minutes left.  This was not the high-percentage catch-and-shoot three.  This was the “Shoot, shoot, shoot,” variety the last player with the ball takes as the 35-second clock is just about to end.  The Golden Bears had gotten close (43-41) before this particular three went in. 

Later the Scots built the lead to 55-45 with 5:43 remaining on an excellent close-to-the-basket play.  In it Jon looked to go to the basket but when a double-team showed up he found his fellow Mainer (Mike) alone for a layup. 

Near the end of the game, Matt Maynard’s only three of the afternoon put WNEC within a couple of possessions, 63-59, with 36 seconds to go but that ended their scoring.  Aaron closed out the game with four straight free throws.

The seniors on the WNEC team were honored before the game and then at halftime seniors from other campus groups were recognized.  “I was impressed with the way they did it,” said Coach Schauer.  “It is hard to do justice to all the seniors you have, and all the awards you want to give away, and yet maintain it in a time frame that’s conducive.  We’re in the business of celebrating young people so it was great to watch.”

Surprisingly, all three of WNEC’s losses have been at home (Roger Williams/Wentworth/Gordon).  They nearly lost to both UNE (OT) and Curry at home.  In a preseason poll, the coaches in the CCC picked WNEC to win the conference.  That was probably based on the facts of their having four starters back and a schedule that brought many of the successful teams of the previous season to their court. 

The biggest game in the conference so far will be next Wednesday when Roger Williams (one loss) takes on Curry (two losses) for what should determine the #1 seed in the tournament.

Tim MacDonnell (sophomore-6′2″-Jericho VT)’s “goggles” always seem to get the attention of the road audiences the Scots face.  I’m told that they’re regular glasses.  I recall someone at Roger Williams yelling to Tim that, “the pool is down the hall.” 

I gave someone at WNEC high marks for chanting, “Tennis elbow, tennis elbow,” when Brady Bajema (sophomore-6′2″-Whitinsville MA) went to the foul line with his right elbow wrapped. 

Let me close with Coach Schauer’s favorite line when describing games like the Western New England one, “Any road victory is a good road victory.” 

boxscore Western New England 2-16-08
 

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Jon Marstaller’s Last-Minute Heroics Send Gordon Past Endicott – Game 18

(Beverly) Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME) turned the last minute into a personal highlight reel and led Gordon past Endicott, 56-55, on Saturday afternoon before a huge gathering. 

Defeating Endicott at Endicott was yet another hurdle that the Scots have finally been able to jump under the leadership of Coach Mike Schauer.  It took six tries but 1,130 of us were on hand to witness it finally happening.  This game had all sorts of drama and as it wound down you knew that one team would end up extremely happy and the other one would have a bad memory for a while.

Less than a year ago junior Todd Burton made a 4-point play at the buzzer to send the Gordon faithful back to Wenham in a state of shock.  This time around, the ride back to the Gordon campus had to be a whole lot happier.

No doubt, folks on both teams will be remembering Jon’s winning three from the corner with less than four seconds left for a long time.  But you need to know that he also had an assist and a steal in that crucial last minute. Those plays were equally significant.

The Scots trailed, 55-51, going into the last minute when Jon found Jeff Derr (sophomore-6′8″-Barrington IL) in close for a layup.  Now with his team down by two points Jon forced a Gull turnover with 30 seconds left. 

I expected a timeout but it didn’t come.  Gordon spread the floor and put the ball in the hands of Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT).  As the clock wound down he finally got past his defender and headed down the lane for an attempt at a layup.  However, athletic 6-5 Joey Burgos stepped in and swatted the shot out of bounds with six seconds left.

“We ran a set play at the end,” recalled Coach Schauer.  “We wanted to send a decent perimeter shooter (Jon Marstaller) over to get the inbounds pass that might not get covered and if that didn’t work get the ball to Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS) on the perimeter.  Our last shot was going to be a three.  I really wanted it to be all or nothing.”  Justin inbounded the ball to Jon in the corner and he had as clean a look at the basket as you could ever hope for and he connected.

“We made mistakes on that basket,” remembered Endicott coach Chris Millette.  “We put our big guy (Justin Martin) on the inbounds passer and that forced a guard (Graham Whitelaw) to have to guard Jon Marstaller.  He was buried in the screen and that left Jon wide open.  This kid’s a senior and an all-league player.  He’s going to make a shot like that.”

Everyone from Gordon was terribly excited over Jon’s made three but there still were 3.7 seconds left for Endicott to overcome the one-point deficit.  After a timeout last year’s hero, Todd Burton, headed up the sidelines toward the corner where he did his damage in the last second last season. To the shock of most of us, Justin Kaufman fouled him. 

“When I heard the whistle blow,” said Coach Millette, “I thought that we were going to win just like last year. What I didn’t realize was that they had a foul to give.”

“Their timeout (before the last 3.7 seconds) helped us,” said Coach Schauer, “because it gave us a chance to communicate to the team that we had a foul to give.”  Justin’s foul left Endicott with less than a second to do anything and a lob by Gary Corbett on the inbounds pass did not turn up a shot as the game concluded.

Coach Schauer wasn’t so sure, though, that the best team won.  “I thought that we deserved to win last year and didn’t and I thought that they deserved to win this year and didn’t.  In this one they outplayed us for much of the game and we were fortunate to make a few more shots.”

For Coach Millette this was the fourth game in a row that his team had lived dangerously.  “In our previous three games (all wins) the outcome has come down to the last possession and the other team has missed.  We were lucky then but you can’t be every time.”

Gordon is now 14-4 overall and 6-2 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference.  Their next game is a nonconference one at Bates on Tuesday evening. 

Endicott, 8-11 overall and 4-3 in the conference, travels to Colby-Sawyer next Wednesday.

Gordon had lost both CCC road games (ENC and Roger Williams) going into this one.  And the way they started against Endicott was downright frightening.  How does down, 16-2, after eight minutes sound?? 

“We came out so soft,” said Coach Schauer.  “You can’t do that on the road.”  Fortunately, for the Scots the Gulls went into a funk of their own for the rest of the half and Gordon was only down 30-28 at halftime.  “We scored a lot of points early,” said Coach Millette, “and then we just stopped moving.”  That lack of movement gave Gordon a chance to do a better job defending the Gulls in close to the basket. 

In the New England game there were few runs.  In this one, especially in the second half, there were plenty of consecutive baskets and fortunately, for Gordon, they had the last run of points. 

The Scots took the lead in the second half (38-37 – 15:35) with eight straight featuring 3’s from Tim MacDonnell (sophomore-6′2″-Jericho VT) and Justin Kaufman and a jumper by Jeff Derr. 

Endicott answered with a run of six to go ahead by five, 43-38, with 11:50 left.

Back came Gordon with an 11-2 run over the next 4 ½ minutes and now the visitors were in front 49-45 with seven minutes left.  A couple of baskets each from Aaron Trigg and Jon Marstaller as well as a long one from Brady Bajema (sophomore-6′2″-Whitinsville MA) provided the Scots scoring.

That lead didn’t last long as the Gulls poured in eight unanswered points and now they had a four-point lead (53-49) with 3:48 remaining.  Gary Corbett, Joey Burgos, Cameron Twiss, and Graham Whitelaw all contributed.

Next came a Justin Kaufman layup but Todd Burton responded with a layup of his own after a Graham Whitelaw steal.  Burton’s basket happened at 2:27 and those were the last points that Endicott would get.  Gordon closed the game out with the Jeff Derr layup and Jon Marstaller’s dagger from beyond the arc.

“What I really enjoyed in this game was the play of Jeff (Derr) and Ben Gaskill (sophomore-6′9″-Columbus OH),” said Coach Schauer.  “I didn’t think that they played very well last game against New England.  Both of them were enormous in this one.  I thought that defensively Ben gave (Joey) Burgos a little bit of trouble and Jeff made one huge shot after another.”

I think that the Endicott defense was the best that the Scots have faced all season.  The open shots were few and each pass was contested.  That tight defense forced Gordon to dribble in traffic on occasion and Brady and Aaron were called for five turnovers apiece as a result. 

Therefore, for the first time since I started covering the team, and Mike Schauer became coach, the Scots have beaten Endicott at home and away.  No small feat.  We could end up playing them a third time in the CCC tournament. 

That third time stuff didn’t work out so well two years ago with Colby-Sawyer.  The Scots won both regular season meetings but the Chargers were a veteran team and they humbled the less experienced Gordon team in the CCC tournament. 

Endicott is getting many big minutes from underclassmen.  How would they do facing tournament pressure in front of a big crowd at the Bennett Center? 

I chose this game to wear a tie to because I wanted to be dressed right for a possible special occasion.  I will don a tie for the Bates game on Tuesday evening just because of the “special occasion” possibilities that exist.   According to SID Pat Byrnes’ media guide, Gordon has never defeated Bates in eight tries.  A win at Bates would definitely be a special occasion and surely attract the interest of D3Hoops.

There is an anticipated gathering of the Marstaller clan at the Bates game.  Why not?  Lewiston is only about 30 miles from Naples (Maine).  No, I don’t expect they’ll be coming on snowmobiles!

I would also like to squelch a rumor: Endicott’s Justin Martin (6-8 freshman) is not assistant coach Jeremy Martin’s younger brother. 

Seeing the underdog win at the last second has me hoping that come tomorrow evening, the Patriots don’t run into the same fate against the New York football Giants.  Relax, the Patriots will win by three touchdowns………….I hope.

boxscore Endicott away game 2-2-08

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You Say You Want Shooting? – Game #16

(Wenham) Maybe it was having Gordon’s all-time men’s scoring leader (Jim Petty) in the house.  Whatever it was, the Scots put on the best shooting show that I can remember as they blew out the visiting Curry Colonels, 93-63, at the Bennett Center on Saturday afternoon in an important Commonwealth Coast Conference game.

“Obviously, if you shoot it the way we did the game gets pretty easy,” explained Gordon coach Mike Schauer afterwards.

The Scots ended up a sizzling 65.2% (34 for 52) for the game including a remarkable 15-for-23 from long range.  Those 15 three’s look especially impressive when you realize that Gordon’s previous best total in a game from long distance had been nine.

“This is why you want to finish ahead of Gordon in the conference,” explained Curry coach Malcolm Wynn.  “To play them here (in the CCC tournament) is an unfair advantage.  I can’t understand what happens to them on the road.”

The victory puts Gordon at 12-4 overall and, more important, makes their record 4-2 in the CCC.  After a tough two-game losing streak (ENC and Roger Williams) on the road the Scots were at a crucial juncture in their season.  “We needed an effort like that,” said Coach Schauer.  “We’ve been struggling offensively.  It was nice to break out of it a little bit.”

That’s not a typo.  He did say a “little” bit.  Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS) – 25 points.  Brady Bajema (sophomore-6′2″-Whitinsville MA) – so hot from downtown in the second half that the New Blue Sea started chanting his name.  And those are just the highlights.  Good shooting broke out all over the place and the sizable crowd of returning students had plenty to cheer about.

The outside shooting was terrific but the key to this game was on the inside for both teams.

“I really challenged Jon (Marstaller),” said Coach Schauer.  “He’s coasted through a couple of games.  He certainly didn’t in this one (14 points-9 rebounds).  When he’s playing well he gets plenty of attention.  Today this opened things up for Aaron (Trigg) and Justin (Kaufman).”

Unfortunately, for Curry they lost much of their inside presence early (five minutes in) when 6-10 senior Johnathan Bowers knocked knees with a Gordon player.  He came back later in the half and limped around and then didn’t play in the second half.  Johnathan was just coming off being CCC Player-of-the-Week and Curry had no one who would give them the 17.6 points per game that he was averaging or the ten rebounds per game.

“Those things happen,” said Coach Wynn.  “Our plan coming in was to go inside (as Roger Williams had done with Geoff Barranger).  And with all due respects to Geoff Barranger, he’s not the player I feel that our guy is.”  The Colonels hope to have Johnathan back for their next game at Anna Maria on Thursday.

The Colonels made the first basket – three from Mark Mastrullo – and then someone must have said, “Let the shooting begin!”  Answering three’s from Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME) and Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT) were followed by a nifty inside layup from Jon and the Scots were literally off to the races.  Shortly after this surge Gordon was at it again reeling off six straight (featuring an Aaron Trigg steal and layin) and this put the Scots up, 14-7, just 4 ½ minutes into the game. 

Then Curry lost their best player inside (Johnathan Bowers) for a while.  The Scots stretched their lead to, 29-19, by the time he was back.  Even in a subpar condition Johnathan made a couple of shots but the player he was covering, Jeff Derr (sophomore-6′8″-Barrington IL), answered with a couple of outside shots. 

Still within range (40-30) with three minutes left, the Colonels were victimized by a ten-point Gordon run.  A nice feed from Brady Bajema to Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME) started it and then Aaron Trigg hit a couple of three’s and free throws to finish it. Loice Williams hit a long three at the very end of the half but Curry trailed, 50-33.

“I warned the team at halftime that Curry can score points in bunches,” said Coach Schauer.  Not on this day.  The Scots took a while to get going in the second half – a miss and two turnovers – but an Aaron Trigg three assisted by Justin Kaufman (he had 12 in the game) got the on-target offense rolling again.

Brady Bajema had an “interesting” second half.  He had missed the previous game (Roger Williams) with a sore elbow and was wearing a significant brace on that elbow in this game.  Might be a good idea for the next opponent to see if there could be some sort of GPS device concealed in that brace.  Why?  Well, after Brady left the game bleeding he came back into the game with a new number (21) and that brace I just mentioned.  It took Brady only two minutes to drill four 3’s and earn the “BRA-DY, BRA-DY,” chants from the crowd.

The Colonels were reduced to the role of spectators at Brady’s barrage and when he was done they were down, 74-51, with nine minutes left.  The Scots had three more long ones left in them the rest of the way (Jeff Derr, Brady, and Aaron) and won going away, 93-63.

Curry (7-10 overall and 3-2 in the CCC) was led by their two terrific guards, Tim Jones (21) and Mark Mastrullo (17).  Tim Jones is the top scorer in the CCC and just about the fastest guard you’ll ever see.  “Tim Jones is almost impossible to defend,” said Coach Schauer.  The Scots sent their two best defenders after him, Justin Kaufman and Aaron Trigg, but he still got his points.  Fortunately, for Gordon, Curry didn’t do any damage inside.

Coach Wynn said he came into this game with high expectations.  “I thought that this one was winnable.  And I still think that we are the best team in the league.  We just don’t play like it every game.”

Gordon has now won 22 straight conference games at home.  When asked about the team shooting so well at home Coach Schauer said, “As someone who made shots (at Wheaton) I can tell you that it’s much easier to shoot in a gym that you’re familiar with.”

The Scots next game (Thursday night – New England College) is the perfect trap game.  The visiting Pilgrims are struggling big-time.  They’ve lost five in a row.  They’re 0-5 in the CCC and they’re 4-12 overall.  How easy it will be for the Scots to look past New England to the always entertaining matchup against Endicott next Saturday afternoon.  I’m guessing that the memory of the devastating loss to underdog ENC last Saturday should keep everyone on the team from letting that happen.  Let’s hope so.

I mentioned Jim Petty earlier.  The former Gordon scoring machine was on hand because he will be inducted into the Gordon Hall of Honor this evening.  I interviewed the 1995 graduate before the Curry game and expect to put an article together tomorrow regarding that conversation. 

boxscore Curry 1-26-08
 

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Geoff Barranger Riddles Gordon Defense – Game #15

(Bristol RI) Senior Geoff Barranger tore through an assortment of Gordon defenses and defenders for 27 points and led Roger Williams past the Scots, 68-57, in Commonwealth Coast Conference play on Wednesday night.

No doubt RWU coach Mike Tully looked at the CCC preseason coaches poll (RWU picked 4th) and his own CCC schedule and realized that he would know early on how good his team was.  Well, four games in the Hawks are looking awfully good.  Why?  For one thing, they’re the only team left undefeated in the CCC and the other thing is that they have already beaten the three teams picked to finish ahead of them, including your Gordon College Fighting Scots.

This game was all about Gordon’s inability, especially in the second half, to defend Geoff Barranger.  The 6-10 senior has shot over 50% the last two seasons and has gotten even better this year clicking on 61% of his shots.  We’re not talking long range here just short jumpers and spins to the basket.  During the first half, Geoff was noticed but his impact was minimal (3 for 7 – 8 points).  The second half?  Nightmare City (8 for 12 – 19 points).

This game reminded me of the Scots loss to ENC on Saturday – in range at halftime but unable to find enough offense or defense in the second half to come away winners. 

“Any time you beat a good team like Gordon you know that you have to play well to do it,” said Hawk coach Mike Tully afterwards.  “I told Mike (Schauer) before the game that we hadn’t been defending real well but we sure did tonight.”

RWU’s tight man-to-man defense showed up on the stat sheet.  The Hawks collected 12 steals which was the 2nd best against Gordon.  They also defended the Scots into 20 turnovers which was a season-high for Gordon.

Therefore, you’ve got an inconsistent offense coupled with a defense that cannot stop the other team’s big guy inside.  Seems like the ingredients for a blowout but sheer tenacity on the part of the Scots had them within one good run of points from making this one interesting at the end.

The Hawks took the lead for good (7- 6 after 3 ½ minutes) on Geoff Barranger’s short jumper.  Later in the half RWU ran ten unanswered points featuring two 3’s by Michael Woolley and looked to be in complete control (27-14) with 6 ½ left.  However, a Gordon timeout and some high-volume instructions drove the Scots to a strong finish and they trailed only 32-30 at halftime.  Three’s from Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS) (2), Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME)  and Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT) (1 each) paced the 16-5 turnaround.

All that encouraging work at the end of the half was soon undone in the second half.  The Scots started out with two missed shots and two turnovers while the Geoff Barranger Show began – first a jumper, then a layup, and then a converted rebound.  This one-man spurt gave the Hawks some breathing room (38-30) and revealed the fact that RWU had money in the bank in close when needed.

“We didn’t try to go deliberately to Geoff,” explained Coach Tully afterwards.  “We just got it to him at better times.” 

Assistant Coach Jeremy Martin told me afterwards that the team was trying to give help defending Geoff Barranger.  “We just didn’t get the help defending done.”

Gordon did get the lead down to five (44-39) when Aaron Trigg connected on his third three with less than nine minutes left but you-know-who answered with a layup and a foul shot and quickly the lead was eight again (47-39) with 8 ½ to go.  The fouler was Ben Gaskill (sophomore-6′9″-Columbus OH) and it was his 5th.  Ben’s early exit put the Scots in a real dilemma inside.  They even tried a zone.  Ultimately, undersized Jon Marstaller got the defensive assignment.    Geoff scored his last points on a layup with 2:45 left. 

A Justin Kaufman three narrowed the lead to, 61-55, with a little over a minute left but the Hawks converted enough free throws down the stretch to pull away, 68-57.

Gordon (11-4) must make a quick recovery.  Those eleven wins are nice but their “real” record is 3-2 in the CCC.  The wins at Schenectady and over defending champs Wentworth are a distant memory.  Somehow, a two-game conference losing streak must be ended at the Bennett Center on Saturday afternoon against Curry.  Fortunately the Blue Sea should be back in force.  Unfortunately, Curry has the inside presence of Johnathan Bowers (6-10 and athletic).  Can the Scots take better care of the ball?  Can the Scots defend better on the inside?  We’ll get the answers on Saturday afternoon and they better be, “Yes,” and “Yes,” if this is going to be the successful season many of us are hoping for.

The Scots were without Brady Bajema (sophomore-6′2″-Whitinsville MA).  He told me before the game that he had hurt his elbow but expected to be ready for the Curry game.

I couldn’t help but look at the play of Geoff Barranger and wonder if Gordon’s Ben Gaskill might reach that level in two years.  He’s already 6-9 and he has a shooting touch around the basket.  He must get stronger and more confident.  It would also help if he stayed out of foul trouble.  Against RWU he had five fouls in eleven minutes all while covering Geoff Barranger.  He did block one of Geoff’s shots. 

While we’re talking individuals, let me mention Tim MacDonnell (sophomore-6′2″-Jericho VT).  To opponents he’s the “guy with the goggles.”  To the rest of us he’s the guy who literally launches himself after loose balls.  Be on full alert on the perimeter if the basketball starts heading your way because Tim is more than likely to be on his way airborne.  Against RWU he had four assists and none of the 20 turnovers the Scots had and picked up his most minutes (22) of the season.  His energy level is a thing to behold.

Catching a view of the bigger picture: I read in Life Application regarding James 1:2 this morning, “Considering your troubles to be joy comes from seeing life with God’s perspective in mind.  We may not be able to understand the specific reasons for God’s allowing certain experiences to crush us or wear us down, but we can be confident that his plan is for our good.  What may look hopeless or impossible to us never looks that way to God!”

boxscore Roger Williams 1-23-08
 

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Gordon Routs Defenseless Anna Maria for 11th Win – Game #13

(Wenham) Confronted with some of the softest defense they’ll ever see Gordon cruised to Win #3 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference defeating Anna Maria, 95-66, at the subdued Bennett Center on Tuesday evening.

Facing a team that surrendered 84.4 points per game coming in the Scots had no reason to be their usual deliberate selves.  Good shots seemed to turn up early on almost every possession and Gordon took full advantage.  “We were unselfish,” said Gordon Coach Mike Schauer in a very brief interview afterwards.  No stat better reflects the way this game went then the Scots 28 assists – their previous high was 20.

Gordon, now 11-2 overall, takes its act on the road against ENC on Saturday and to Roger Williams on Tuesday.  Believe me, the atmosphere in those places will be completely different from what we saw tonight.  The Gordon students aren’t back until next week.  I continue to wonder why college students miss so much of January. 

7 ½ minutes into this game Gordon had a 19-9 advantage.  Every starter had scored and the team had only missed one shot.  The Amcats (6-8) had averaged 80 points per game against previous opponents.  But even with an up-tempo style there were few easy baskets against a Gordon defense that had been keeping opponents under 60 points per game.

An Aaron Trigg (sophomore-6′1″-Overland Park KS) three in the last minute gave Gordon a 46-30 halftime advantage.

The visitors tallied the first five points of the second half but shortly thereafter their porous defense did them in.  The Scots ran ten unanswered points and with 15 ½ minutes left the score reached 58-37.  The issue was no longer which team would win but by how much would Gordon win by.  Benches cleared and everyone able to play did play.

Mike Schnackenberg (senior-6′6″-South Portland ME) continued his high-percentage shooting going 8-for-9 to reach a team leading 17 points.  As a team the Scots set a season high in shooting percentage – 64.9%. 

Brady Bajema (sophomore-6′2″-Whitinsville MA) set a personal high with six assists while Justin Kaufman (senior-5′11″-Redding CT) tied his season high with seven assists. 

Jon Marstaller (senior-6′5″-Naples ME) ended with 14 points but might well have gotten double that if he had played longer.  He saw lanes to the basket that he probably won’t see again for the rest of the season.

Ben Gaskill (sophomore-6′9″-Columbus OH) was the leading rebounder in the game with seven.  What I liked best was his full-speed slash to the basket in the first half. 

Greg Walker (freshman-6′7″-Uxbridge MA) continues to look like a player deserving of more playing time.  “Greg has been sensational in practice for a long time,” said Coach Schauer.  “He’s ready to make the jump to more playing time.”

I didn’t see the Wheelock game so I got my first look at Austin Benston (freshman-6′2″-Branchville NJ) and Dain Scheibel (freshman-5′9″-Gambrills MD).  Austin drilled a three and Dain showed that he’s familiar with the point-guard position. 

The blowout status of this game benefited Aaron Trigg.  His minutes were shortened to 24.  He has been leading the entire Commonwealth Coast Conference in minutes with over 35 per game.

Next up for the Scots is ENC down in Quincy on Saturday afternoon.  Last time the teams met it was the Blue Sea against the Red Sea.  This time it’ll probably be the Red Sea against a team from Wenham.  I wonder if the chicken and the gorilla will be running around loose again.  Speaking of running around loose, a friend of mine arrived at the Anna Maria game late and reported seeing a deer running loose on Grapevine Road across from the Bennett Center. 

Anna Maria’s next game is against Colby-Sawyer at home on Saturday.  The Chargers had over 100 points against New England College tonight.  Based on the shaky Anna Maria defense I witnessed tonight another 100 point game for Colby-Sawyer on Saturday would not surprise me at all.

boxscore Anna Maria 1-15-08

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