Basketball Seniors Make National Ranks
When Men’s and Women’s Basketball take the court tomorrow, it may be the final home game for six seniors. And for three of those players—Eric Demers ’20, Meghan Foley ’20 and Sarah Gibbs ’20—it marks the beginning of a bittersweet end to a season that has garnered national attention.
Each player boasts stats that place them at the top of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball: At 33.5 points per game, Demers is the top point-maker in all of college basketball, even over players at top teams like Duke and Louisiana State University; Foley’s 24.4 points per game make her the top scorer in Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Women’s Basketball and second in NCAA DIII; and with 13.8 rebounds per game, Gibbs leads the CCC and is third in DIII.
Demers Charges into the Spotlight
Demers’ two favorite memories from the season speak for themselves. First is his career high 49-point game versus Nichols. Second is when Sports Illustrated surprised him with a visit at last week’s home game. One of the most decorated players in Gordon Men’s Basketball history, Demers’ hot shot streak has earned attention from the iconic magazine, The Boston Globe, The Salem News, Sports Illustrated and more.
“I knew I was going to have a bigger role on the team with a lot of people graduating last year,” says Demers. “I knew I was capable of it, but I didn’t think success would happen the way it has happened at this level.”
The Acushnet, MA, native has been named the CCC player of the week four times this season and holds four Gordon Men’s Basketball records including career points (he broke 2,000 in December and currently has 2,448).
So, how did a DIII athlete launch to the highest ranks of college basketball?
“I take pride in my work ethic and I don’t like being outworked,” Demers says.
In-season that means at least one hour each day of shooting and weightlifting outside of practice. Last summer, Demers treated basketball as a full-time job, training around the clock in Acushnet. For one week he worked with an elite trainer at the Jordan Lawley Basketball program in Irving, CA, where he got court time with NBA players.
Knowing the basketball world is full of talent keeps the aspiring pro player motivated. “There’s a lot of work to be done,” he says.
Demers says he looks up to players like Stephen Curry and Men’s Basketball Coach Tod Murphy, who balance their exceptional skills with humility rooted in Christian faith. “Sports brings out a lot of bad things in people when things don’t go their way,” he says. “So, I remember who I am and who I represent.”
Foley and Gibbs Lead Women’s Basketball Pivot
Foley, Gibbs, Jess Wall ’20 and Alisha Henderson ’20 stepped onto the court for Gordon Women’s Basketball in 2016, the same year as Head Coach Carter Shaw. The new Scots were inheriting a program that had not seen a winning record since 2005–06.
But steady improvement since the seniors’ and Shaw’s arrival has edged the team up by one spot each season in the CCC, from eighth in 2016–17 to their current rank at fifth—with 14 wins and nine losses overall.
“[Coach Carter is] completely invested in our team,” says Gibbs. “His investment, his time and his knowledge of the game have played a huge [part] in our success.”
“I can’t thank him enough for how much he has supported us over the years,” Foley echoes.
Since her first year, Foley has collected 1,671 career points—the second-highest record in Gordon Women’s Basketball history—despite an injury that put her on the sidelines for nine games last year. Gibbs holds the Gordon Women’s Basketball record for career rebounds and surpassed 1,000 career rebounds in the Scots’ 77–59 win over Salve Regina on Saturday.
“Four years ago, I couldn’t have imagined winning this many games,” says Foley, the lifelong Celtics fan who today was named CCC player of the week for the fourth times this season.
For Gibbs, senior year success has been especially sweet after committing to a team that she knew would be undergoing an era of rebuilding, knowing she might not see the fruits during her four years. “I think that can be scary for some people,” she says. “But for me it was kind of exciting because I knew we would be the foundation for something really great.”
Foley credits the team’s growing camaraderie for their remarkable growth. “We know exactly what we want to accomplish,” she says. “It helps us trust each other more on the court and be able to be more honest about each other’s performances and expect more out of each other.”
“When you have a team as close as ours,” echoes Gibbs, “. . . it really reflects on the court.”
While the seniors have much to boast from their college careers, they’re proud to pass the proverbial—and literal—ball to their promising younger teammates. Last season the team played with as few as seven players and sometimes practiced with six; this year Shaw recruited six first-year students. With a growing roster, momentum and camaraderie, the future is bright for Gordon Women’s Basketball.
Gordon faces University of New England tomorrow at home. Women’s Basketball play at 5:30 p.m. and Men’s Basketball at 7:30 p.m. Games can be livestreamed through the teams’ web pages.