(Wenham MA) It’s always nice to make a good first impression.
And freshman Michael Makiej certainly did that collecting twenty-eight points as Gordon defeated Curry, 99-63, on Friday night at the Bennett Center.
“We’re just happy to be able to play basketball,” said Gordon coach Tod Murphy post-game. “So many conferences in New England are not playing this year.”
The Scots (1-0) may end up with ten-to-twelve games.
“We have ten scheduled,” said Coach Murphy, “including one more tomorrow with Curry, as well as two each with Western New England, Nichols, Suffolk, and Endicott. I am going to try to get a couple with Eastern Nazarene. Everything depends on staying Covid-free.”
The visitors from Milton (MA) stayed with Gordon through the first 13 ½ minutes and were ahead, 27-26.
The rest of the first half the Scots, led by Garrett Sattazahn and Zach Bennett, put a 17-3 segment together and were in command, 43-30, at the half.
Garrett had a triple, a jumper, and a steal during the good run while Zach had two steals that were turned into points.
Curry coach Joe Busacca was disappointed with the way things went. “We’re so young that we’re going to make a ton of mistakes early,” he said. “Gordon has some good upper classmen who know how to win and played in big games last year. When we cooled off, we didn’t respond very well. If the ball doesn’t go in, it doesn’t mean we can’t compete in the defensive end.”
Freshman Josh Vargas (6’8”) was a presence inside. He put fifteen points together with fourteen rebounds. Angelo Sardgna (12 points) and Jayquan Leonard (10 points) reached double figures for the Colonels.
Gordon’s late run in the first half spilled over into the entire second half. The Scots put up fifty-six points and Michael Makiej had twenty-two of them.
Senior Parker Omslaer joked about Michael’s performance afterwards: “My all-time high is twenty-three points and he beats it in his first game. I don’t even know what to say about that.”
There were nothing but inside shots in the points Michael collected. “Credit my teammates,” he said, “they gave me the good looks on the high post. It’s not about me. It about the team. I was just having fun out there.”
Michael came to Gordon from Lexington Christian Academy. “He’s one of the most talented offensive players we’ve ever had here,” said Coach Murphy. “He has some things to learn but he could be an absolute nightmare to defend.”
Michael (6’4”) had twelve rebounds to go with his twenty-eight points.
Newcomer Drew Thibeault had ten rebounds.
“Excited to be here,” said Drew. “I transferred from RPI. There’s something special going on here and I wanted to be part of it. Putting up ninety-nine points in your first game is pretty good.”
Coach Murphy: “Justin Yu (15 points) had a great game off the bench. Caleb (Scott) filled in nicely when Parker got into foul trouble. Garrett (Sattazahn) will be our go-to guy this season. His shooting was off a bit but in the 2nd half he distributed the ball and had several steals.”
The Scots played a zone defense for much of the game. Coach Murphy is not a fan of it. “I hate that defense. It did work tonight but only because they weren’t hitting shots. That may well be different against other teams we face.”
Josh Crutchfield: “I am so blessed to be back on the court and be with these guys. I love them. Michael had a phenomenal game. He loves basketball and is a great kid. We scored 99 points but out defense was very good too.”
Michael Makiej: “There are Christian aspects to being here at Gordon. We pray together before each practice. I really like that.”
I told Garrett Sattazahn afterwards that I wondered how this year’s team was going to make up for all the points Eric Demers’ scored the previous season. “Tonight, Michael took care of the ‘Eric’ part,” he said.
The biggest surprise for me was seeing what the new Bennett Center looked like. I wasn’t the only one pleasantly surprised.
“The court, the mats, the stands, are all awesome,” said Garrett. “You couldn’t ask for a better facility.”
David Massillon, who wasn’t in uniform because of surgery, summed things up best. “It sure was nice to see all the guys with smiles on their faces after an opening night win in this fine facility.”
(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)