Panthers remain unbeaten in South

It’s been nearly 10 years since the Pioneer Valley Regional School girls’ basketball team won a league title. On Friday, it took a major step in halting that streak.

The Panthers dominated early on to mount a large lead and took over sole possession of first place in the Franklin County League South Division with a 43-34 victory over Smith Academy at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield.

League realignment will help contribute to the Panthers ending the streak as well, but even if the new-look FCL South is not as strong as it once was, the Panthers are still young and learning to win. The Panthers have just two seniors and one of those was missing due to an injury Friday, so the court was littered with underclassmen.

Smith Academy, to its credit, has no seniors on the squad and just like the other four teams in the South, is in a growing process.

Despite the youth, both Pioneer (7-7 overall, 3-0 South) and Smith Academy (6-7, 2-1) entered the contest at 2-0 in the league, guaranteeing the winner first place. Pioneer, which had been the consensus preseason favorite to win the league, proved the prognosticators correct thus far as it raced out to a 16-4 lead after one quarter and was never seriously threatened the rest of the way.

“They are starting to get the taste of winning and what that’s all about,” Pioneer coach Meg Lilly said.

Freshman center Gabby Carpenter was the star of the night with a career-high 19 points to go along with 10 rebounds, giving her a double-double. Natalie Hale, the team’s leading scorer with over 14 points per game, netted 10 points, while Caroline Merkle and Brianna Jobst each finished with 4 points.

Ashley Higgins led the Falcons with 15 points, and Katie Yagodzinski tossed in 7.

Frontier 35, Easthampton 30 — Camilla Baronas found an outside shooting touch and Frontier Regional School remained alive in its hopes to make the postseason with a 35-30 Franklin County League North Division girls’ basketball win over Easthampton High School Friday night in Easthampton.

Easthampton (4-8, 0-3) held a 15-13 lead at halftime but the Red Hawks (6-8, 2-1) came out and outscored the Eagles, 15-5, in the third quarter. Baronas had 11 of her game-high 15 points in the third quarter, and according to Frontier head coach Frank Keimig, the forward/center, who averages around 4 points per game, did so well away from the hoop.

“The 11 points were all from the outside, which is not where we usually get points from Camilla,” the coach said. “It was a nice surprise.”

Baronas finished 7-for-11 from the field. Amanda Calvo added 11 points for Frontier, which must win four of its final six games to qualify for the postseason. Olivia Riordan added 4 points and six rebounds, and Kat Miner grabbed 11 boards.

Courtney Urban led Easthampton with 14 points, and Ali Dabek dumped in 7.

Mohawk 47 Turners 23 — Mohawk Trail Regional High School played its best game of the season to date, dominating FCL South rival Turners Falls High School, 47-23, in Buckland Friday evening.

“We played four quarters of intense basketball, and never let up,” said Mohawk head coach Chuck Miner. “We played well on both sides of the ball, but our defense really stepped it up; they were all over the floor, diving for balls, and giving everything they had. We’ve been waiting all year to put together a complete team game like this, and I couldn’t be prouder.”

The Warriors were in control from the outset, outscoring the Indians 14-6 in the first quarter and building the lead to 10 by halftime. Turners was not able to turn the tide in the second half in which it scored only 11 points, and could not slow down the Warriors’ offense.

Blaze Petko-Sands was on fire from long range for Mohawk, dropping in four 3-pointers en route to a game-high 14 points. Laura Ward also had a stellar night, dropping in 13 of her own, and pulled down eight boards for the Warriors. Abbie Boswell added 7 for Mohawk, and Makayla Hicks and Hope Lively each dropped in 4.

Haleigh Bassett led the Indians with 10 points. Maddie Chmyzinski, Kylie Fleming, and Michelle Leh each contributed 4.

FC Tech 31, Smith Voke 21 — After coming out flat in the first half and trailing by 7 points at the break, the Franklin County Technical School girls’ basketball team rallied in the final two quarters to beat visiting Smith Vocational High School, 31-21, in a Tri-County League matchup in Turners Falls Friday night.

“Let’s just say I lost my voice getting my point across at halftime,” said Tech head coach Matt Llewelyn. “We needed to play with more intensity and like we wanted to be there. We came out flat, and had no excuse for the amount of easy layups we missed. I’m extremely proud of the way the team listened and responded in the second half.”

The Eagles (9-5) also stepped it up defensively in the final two quarters, allowing just 3 and 4 points in the third and fourth, respectively, and outscored the Vikings 24-7 in the half.

Brittany Andrews led the Eagles with 12 points, including two treys. Brooke Meuse added 11 for Franklin Tech.

Nashaelid Cintron-Martinez dropped in 12 for the Vikings, all on three-balls.

The Eagles return to the court Tuesday when they visit Putnam Vocational High School at 6:30 p.m. Franklin Tech can secure a tournament berth with a win.

Hopkins 72, Greenfield 26 — Mackenzie Sullivan scored 22 points on Friday night and Hopkins Academy showed no mercy against Greenfield High School in a 72-26 victory in independent girls’ basketball action in Hadley.

Hopkins (9-4) needs one more win to qualify for the postseason.

The Golden Hawks led 23-0 after the first quarter and 37-10 at the end of the first half. Madi Stevens finished with 13 points, and Nicole Morrison dumped in 10.

Rachel Lapointe led Greenfield with 7 points. Erika Glabach finished with 6 points, Molley Duclos added 4, and eighth-grader Kirsten Ward finished with 2 points and nine rebounds in one half of play.

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