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Nichols edges Gordon 76-73 in OT

Eric Demers scored a career-high 49 points and is now Gordon’s all-time leading scorer

Parker Omslaer (20) congratulates Eric for reaching the top spot

(Wenham MA) “This is why you coach and play; to be part of games like this,” said Nichols coach Brandon Linton post-game.

Those at the Bennett Center saw history made and got a full-game dose of close, hard-fought action.

There was a playoff atmosphere plus the bonus of being in the building as senior Eric Demers took over the top spot as Gordon’s all-time scoring leader.

The last two times the teams faced each other was in the Commonwealth Coast Conference championship game in February at the Hart Center in Worcester on the campus of Holy Cross.

DeAnte Bruton had 25 points including the tying three in regulation

Gordon didn’t fare so well in that one, getting down early and not having the firepower to rally back.

Nichols went from there into the D3 tournament and reached the Elite Eight.  The Bison closed with a 28-3 record.

Good team this year, as well, with two CCC All-Stars (DeAnte Bruton & Matt Morrow) returning.

But Gordon has Eric Demers back and that was almost enough to defeat Nichols.

Along the way tonight Eric became Gordon’s all-time leading scorer…..and it didn’t take long!

Eric Demers looks for an opening in the Nichols defense

Eric needed eleven points to pass Garrisson Duviver for the top spot.  With Eric’s ability and willingness to shoot, you knew that this was the game the milestone would be reached.

Four shots in he had twelve points and the record!  And Gordon had an 18-4 lead.

But you knew that the Bison (7-1) weren’t going away.  This is a team that is 97-11 in the CCC over the last 6+ seasons.

“We’re used to fighting adversity,” said DeAnte Bruton afterwards.  “We just had to pull through.”

The team from Dudley did catch up but the Scots (5-3) refused to fold up and go away.

“Our success this season will depend on how we handle adversity,” said Eric Demers afterwards.  “Against Emerson (home opener in November) we rolled over when things got tough.  Tonight, even though we lost, we showed some fight.”

Actually, plenty of fight.  Eric led the way with twenty-five points in the second half, finding openings against a defense that was keyed to limit him.

Jason O’Regan with the steal in the final seconds of OT

Some of the breathing room Eric found in the second half was the result of foul trouble for defensive ace Nate Tenaglia that forced him to the bench and away from Eric.

Eric without Nate hounding him was like most of us at Christmas if the filled cookie jar has us in the kitchen with it and no one watching!  Party time!

Nate returned later in the second half and it was his defense that turned this game Nichols’ way in overtime.

The game could have ended in regulation with Gordon winning, but not on this night.

Freshman Justin Yu made a gutsy three to push GC in front, 71-68, with twenty-six seconds left.  Get a defensive stop and win the game.

Garrett Sattazahn (12) between Kash Jackson (10) and Jaekwon Spencer (21)

But DeAnte Bruton (25 points) had other plans.  The Bison rushed downcourt without using a timeout and DeAnte was able to get a good look at a three for NC.  Tie game but with time left (nine seconds) for a Gordon answer.

You knew who would take the last shot for the Scots, or so you thought you did.  Eric, as it turned out, took the next-to-the-last shot and the rebound came back to freshman Garrett Sattazahn at the foul line.  Garrett’s quick put back rimmed out and we moved into overtime.

The five-minute overtime will never be part of any Gordon basketball highlight viewing.  Nichols wasn’t all that great either.  They only scored five points while Gordon had just two points.

Matt Morrow – 21 rebounds and 20 points

The worst of it for the Scots in the disastrous OT was the final fifty-five seconds.  The Scots had the ball four different times and turned it over without a shot on each possession.  That’s a tough ending!

Nate Tenaglia (5-9) was the engine that drove the Bison in the OT.  He opened the scoring with a jump shot and later had two free throws in front of the enthusiastic GC student section.  He also had two steals.

“Nate was terrific,” said Coach Linton.  “He’s a dog and we love him.”

“Nate’s one of the toughest defenders I face all year,” said Eric.  “He’s good at what he does.  That’s how he gets his minutes.  His steals in the end were huge.”

Josh Crutchfield and Coach Tod Murphy

Gordon coach Tod Murphy lamented the end of regulation: “I did a poor job of game management late.  After Justin made that shot, I should have called a time-out immediately to get us set defensively.  We had a three-point lead.  Instead, we gave up kind of an uncontested three that tied the game.”

Eric ended up with forty-nine points and ten rebounds. Easily the best game I’ve seen him play.

“I know that Eric would much rather have a game like this that ended up as a win,” said Coach Murphy.

The GC coach wants more from the rest of the Scots: “We got really stagnant offensively in the second half.  Too many times we were standing around waiting for Eric to do something.  We have to continue to move.”

Nichols head coach Brandon Linton (middle)

“This was two great players, Demers and DeAnte, going at it,” said Coach Linton post-game.

Let me respectfully disagree with the first-year coach.  To leave 6-8 junior Matt Morrow out of the “great player” conversation for this game is a serious oversight.  Matt didn’t have the splash-and-dash of Eric and DeAnte, but he did have twenty points and twenty-one rebounds.  He made it look easy in close, especially when 6-11 Parker Omslaer wasn’t in the game.

In my interviews with Coach Linton and DeAnte Bruton I referenced the zone defense that the Scots have played the last two seasons.

“It definitely threw us off,” said DeAnte.  “We knew they would be using it and we tried to beat them in transition and get some easy shots.”

Jim Petty in the house

“The zone slowed us down” said Coach Linton.  “Their zone is tough.  It’s long and they’ve got a bunch of smart guys playing it.  We had our hands full.”

The Scots beat Nichols last January at Nichols and Coach Murphy thought that they should have done it again tonight.  “We had our chances.  We were on our home court.  We had a great crowd.  We just made too many mental mistakes.  We’re inexperienced and it showed late.”

DeAnte regarding Nate Tenaglia: “He was big in the overtime.  Guarding Eric Demers meant fighting through five screens on most possessions.  He’ll need an ice pack tomorrow.”

I did my homework on Eric’s first points.  They came in the home opener against Lesley in November of 2015.  “I absolutely remember that first basket (a three),” said Eric as he pointed to the visitor’s end. “It was a three in the first half from the top of the key and Jaren Yang had the assist.”

Jim Petty (1991-94) was in the house.  He was Gordon’s All-Time top scorer until Garrisson Duvivier and Eric came along.  Eric went past Jim last game against Curry.  Garrisson had gotten the top spot last season in the CCC semifinal game against Roger Williams.

Eric Demers takes a 3 in overtime

Jim told me before the game that he was amazed that he had stayed at the top for so long.  “It surprises me,” he said, “that no one has scored two thousand points here yet.”  It is safe to say that Eric has an excellent chance to reach that level with 17+ games left.

Eric on the season: “I think last year we were playing more for the record, hoping to get ranked and get an at-large bid.  We threw that out the window in the summer this year.  We’re young and we’ve got to get better every single day and prepare to play three games late in February.”

Best player in the gym?  Probably Marcos Echevarria.  Fortunately, for opponents, the former Bison and all-time CCC top scorer has graduated and now is an assistant coach at Nichols.

DeAnte Bruton had 32 points against Gordon in the CCC championship game.

Box score

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Matt Morrow (34) scores

Nate’s free throw gives Nichols a 3-point lead in OT

AJ Terry (35) rebounds

Ben North

Eric Demers and Parker Omslaer battle for a rebound

Eric Demers shoots over Nate Tenaglia

Garrett Sattazahn defended by Jaekwon Spencer

Jason O’Regan (22) guards AJ Terry (35)

Josh Crutchfield

Justin Yu

Parker Omslaer shoots over Matt Morrow

Stirring the Bennett Center crowd








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Nichols cools Gordon 107-93 to claim regular season title

DeAnte Bruton (27 points) breaks after a Gordon turnover

Garrisson Duvivier (34 points) powers to the hoop over Matt Morrow

(Wenham MA) Big game.

Big crowd.

Big disappointment.

Nichols (22-2) never trailed defeating Gordon (21-3) 107-93 before the season’s best crowd at the Bennett Center on Wednesday night.

The win gives the Bison a bye in the Commonwealth Coast Conference quarterfinals next Tuesday.

The Scots will get the #8 seed at home on Tuesday at the Bennett Center.

Gordon had won an earlier meeting between the two teams (76-72) at Dudley (MA) in January.

The Scots put up plenty of points tonight but never could slow Nichols down enough on the defensive end to make the game close in crunch time.

The Bison had three starters score in the twenties; DeAnte Bruton (27), Marcos Echevarria (26), and Matt Morrow (21).  6-8 Jerome Cunningham ended with fourteen points and had five assists.

Nate Tenaglia shadowed Eric Demers

The key player for Nichols may well have been the other starter, sophomore Nate Tenaglia.  Nate was assigned to cover Eric Demers.

“Nate is as tough as it gets,” said Nichols coach Scott Faucher afterwards.  “He loves guarding the other team’s best player.”

Eric again finished with 32 points but needed twenty-nine shots to get there. Last time, with Nate not playing, Eric was a warm 10-for-21.

“He (Eric Demers) is tough to guard,” explained Nate. “He hit some shots down the end, but I held him to nine points in the first half.”

The Bison were much more patient against the Gordon zone than they were last time.  “We were sharing the ball offensively,” said Coach Faucher.  “We got a lot of in-rhythm shots which is what we wanted.”

Noah Szilagyi eyes the Nichols defense

Gordon coach Tod Murphy reflected on the loss: “It’s one loss.  Tonight was their night.  They deserved to win.  We beat them at their place so now we’re even.  We’ve proven that we can beat them on their court so if it comes down to that we’ll have another opportunity.”

Nichols shooting was certainly improved over last time, but their defense was also.  The Scots had fifteen turnovers, but the killer stat connected to the miscues was that the Bison turned those mistakes into 29 points.  Nichols had ten steals.

“If we take away our mental mistakes and turnovers, we would have been right with them,” added Coach Murphy.

Garrisson Duvivier and Jerome Cunningham

The Scots had very few open shots but that didn’t stop them from putting up points.  6-6 Garrisson Duvivier saw plenty of 6-8 Matt Morrow and 6-8 Jerome Cunningham but still managed 34 points and 15 rebounds.  Last time Garrisson was able to get the NC big men in foul trouble but not this time.

The stats declare that this was GD’s best game of the season.  He had only three turnovers and shot an impressive 15-for-24.

I thought that Garrisson might not have enough season left to catch Jim Petty (1902 points) as the all-time leading Gordon scorer.  Not so fast.  Garrisson, with tonight’s 34 points, is at 1843.  He’s 59 points away.  Endicott on Saturday and a run of tournament games might be enough.

Eric made another pass tonight with his thirty-two points.  He moved by Aaron Trigg (honored at Homecoming) into 5th place.

Marcos Echevarria (26 points) looks for a pass

Gordon takes on Endicott on Saturday to end the regular season.  The Gulls ran into the same Western New England team tonight (and lost badly) that defeated Gordon in January.

A win or a loss against Endicott will not change Gordon’s spot, as the #2 seed, in the CCC tournament.

Play the Endicott game a little differently as a result?  “Not a chance,” said Coach Murphy.  “It’s Endicott.  We’re going to be preparing for the tournament starting Saturday.”

Coach Faucher: “Our guys played with a lot of energy.  We defended.  They wanted this one.  Gordon is a good team.  They’re as tough as anyone.”

Nichols has been a very good team for a while.  This is their 6th straight season with at least twenty wins.  They have shared or won the CCC regular season title for the last six years.  Their record during the regular season over the past 5+ years?  94-11!

But one of those eleven losses was to Gordon at Nichols.  Will there be a rematch a week from Saturday? Stay tuned.

Box from the game

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

David Massillon drives the lane

Eric Demers (32 points) gets an opening

Garrisson Duvivier tightly guarded by Josiah Kimball

Jake Haar chases a loose ball

Jerome Cunningham and Parker Omslaer

Josh Crutchfield and Marcos Echevarria

Marcos Echevarria (4) lifts a three in front of the Gordon crowd

Eric Demers and Nate Tenaglia



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