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Athol stops Raider streak

Athol High School made a major statement on the WMass Division III girls’ basketball scene Monday night.

Using a dominant performance in the paint, the Red Raiders knocked off previously unbeaten Hampshire Regional High School, 51-44, in an independent girls’ hoop game Monday night at Mallet Gymnasium in Athol.

Athol (7-0) faced its toughest test of the season after playing a weak early-season schedule, but it showed that its unblemished record was not just due to a weak slate of games. Athol trailed 26-21 at the break and coach Dan Bevis said it was the test that his team needed after not being challenged much in the opening couple of weeks of the season.

“I was talking to my assistant coach at half and I said, ‘This is exactly what we need,’” he said. “We needed a game like this, especially with the stretch we are heading into.”

Athol came back to tie the game at 36 after three quarters and then outscored Hampshire 15-8 in the fourth to pull away for the win. The difference came at the free-throw line, where Athol took 48 shots and made 25.

“Imagine if we made 10 more free throws,” Bevis said. “We were aggressive taking the ball to the hoop and Hampshire got into foul trouble in the second half. We were in the bonus in the third quarter. We did a good job getting into the paint and creating chances for our offense.”

Athol also played well defensively, according to Bevis, and forced Hampshire into taking some tough shots. Bevis said Hampshire made some of those shots in the first half but he felt his team wore down a Hampshire team that had not played much in the past two weeks.

“It wasn’t anything special we were doing,” he explained. “We forced them to take some tough shots, and when they missed, we did a good job rebounding. It was one shot and out. Even in the first half we played well defensively, but they like to push and we did a better job of getting back in transition in the second half.”

Tanner Favreau led Athol with 17 points, while the rest of the scoring was spread out. Kiki Guerin and Molly Cleveland each finished with 7 points, while Julia Carey and Julia Salmond each added 6.

Lauren Aldrich paced Hampshire with 13 points.

Mahar 62, Palmer 37 — Ally Parker led all scorers with 23 points, including two 3-point baskets, as Mahar Regional School beat Palmer High School, 62-37, in Orange Monday evening.

The win was the second lopsided victory for the Senators over the Panthers this season. The previous meeting resulted in a 55-32 Mahar win on Dec. 22.

Natashia Patria added 14 for the Red Raiders, six of those on two 3-pointers. Freshman Cassie Verheyen contributed 10 points and was all over the boards, pulling down nine rebounds, eight on the offensive end.

“We played very good defense. I was very pleased with our press in particular,” said senators’ head coach Larry Fisher.

Maddie Mastriani had 11 points for Palmer. Savannah Cavanaugh tossed in 9.

S. Hadley 57, Frontier 38 — Frontier Regional School had a rough first half, scoring only 8 points, and went into the break 23 points down as the Red Hawks fell to South Hadley High School, 57-38, at Goodnow Gymnasium in South Deerfield Monday night.

The second half was better for the Hawks, as they outscored the Tigers 30-26 over the final two quarters, but it was far from enough to overcome the first-half nightmare, which included a two-point first quarter .

Amanda Calvo and Olivia Riordan were the high scorers for Frontier, each dropping in 11 points. Riordan added four steals for the Hawks.

Kara Callahan led the way for South Hadley with 20 points.

Southwick 46, Pioneer 35 — Southwick-Tolland Regional High School held Pioneer Valley Regional School to just one point in the first quarter and defeated the Panthers, 46-35, in an independent girls’ basketball game Monday evening in Southwick.

Southwick (4-0) led 21-11 at the break and outscored Pioneer 9-4 in the third quarter to put the game away. Morgan Harriman led Southwick with 16 points, Ashley Shea added 12, and McKenzie Sullivan finished with 11.

Natalie Hale finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Panthers (0-5), while Caroline Merkle collected 7 points, and Alyssa Llewelyn grabbed 10 rebounds.

Catholic 41, Mohawk 22 — Katie Klejna scored 11 points and Holyoke Catholic High School knocked off Mohawk Trail Regional High School, 41-22, in an independent girls’ basketball game Monday in Chicopee.

Kyra Robins, Julia Hiney and Lindsey Robins each had 6 points for the Gaels.

Blaze Petko-Sands led Mohawk with 7 points. Laura Ward added 3 points and 10 rebounds, and Emma Poplawski collected 3 points and nine rebounds.

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