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Eagles soar to WMass tourney

Franklin Tech shooter Brett Martin (4) gets off a shot between two St. Mary defenders Thursday night in Turners Falls, where the host Eaglesburied the Saints, 90-51, in their Tri-County League boys' basketball showdown. Recorder/Beth Reynolds

Franklin Tech shooter Brett Martin (4) gets off a shot between two St. Mary defenders Thursday night in Turners Falls, where the host Eaglesburied the Saints, 90-51, in their Tri-County League boys' basketball showdown. Recorder/Beth Reynolds

Franklin County Technical School does not want to simply be a Tri-County League team that qualifies for the tournament then is quickly eliminated. The Eagles may just have the arsenal to make a postseason racket.

Chris Wetherby had another huge game with a 36-point, 12-rebound effort and the Eagles punched their ticket to the WMass Division IV Tournament with a 90-51 thrashing of St. Mary High School in a TCL boys’ hoop game in Turners Falls.

The game was never in question for the Eagles (10-6), who have won six of their past eight games. Franklin Tech led 23-14 after the first quarter and 49-27 at the break. It propels the team into the tournament, but that’s not all coach Rick Recore is looking for.

“It certainly was a team goal,” he said. “I want these guys to be able to experience the joy of having this opportunity because it doesn’t happen all the time. But I don’t want this to be the type of thing where we make the tournament and then we are one-and-done.”

A big reason for the win was the continued excellence of Wetherby. The junior forward has scored more than 20 points in 12 of the Eagles’ 16 games this season, and has surpassed the 30-point mark six times. He has become a force down low for the Eagles, although it is not due entirely to height. Wetherby stands at 6-foot-1 but his coach said it’s the little things he does that makes him such a force.

“It’s a usual game for him lately,” Franklin Tech coach Rick Recore said. “He is just huge around the basket, and converted a ton of offensive rebounds. We have spent hours on post moves and he has got them down. What Chris has that a lot of guys don’t have is that he is an incredibly quick jumper.”

Brett Martin also had a big night for the Eagles with a double-double as he grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked 11 shots to go along with 7 points. Brian Como neared his career-high with 18 points, Nate Boyer added 5 points and 10 assists, and C.J. Daignault added 10 points.

Sam Thresher led St. Mary with 21 points.

Franklin Tech has a test on Monday night at home when it hosts McCann Technical High School at 6:30.

Greenfield 72, Athol 46 — It wasn’t supposed to take this long but Greenfield High School is in the tournament.

The Green Wave shook off a shaky first half by outscoring Athol High School 23-2 in the third quarter to pull away for a 72-46 Hampshire League boys’ basketball win Thursday night at Nichols Gymnasium in Greenfield.

The WMass Division II runners up from last season finally punched their postseason ticket in the 18th game of the season. Despite the difficult road, Green Wave coach Scott Thayer said he believes the experience can be beneficial.

“We don’t take qualifying for the tournament lightly,” he said. “It’s always an honor to get in to the tournament and it gives you an opportunity. With everything we’ve been through, all the expectations and teams gunning for us, I’m proud of the way these kids have fought. We’ve been in every game and hopefully these experiences we’ve been through will treat us well come tournament time.”

The first time these two teams met this season in Athol, Greenfield led 22-2 after the first quarter to all but put the game away early. This time around was different, with Athol staying with the Green Wave throughout the first half. Greenfield led 36-32 at halftime.

“We were lazy on defense,” Thayer said. “The one thing I told the guys at halftime is that what has kept us in games this season is our defense.”

The message was received by the team as the Green Wave outscored Athol, 23-2, in the third quarter to turn the game into a route. Robin Marchese finished with 20 points to lead all scorers, while Garrett Hudson added 12 points. Parker Hickey netted 11 points, and Connor Eckstrom and Connor Joy each drained 10.

Alex Page led Athol with 12 points.

Athol (2-13 overall, 1-10 HL) hosts Hopkins Academy tonight at 7:30. Greenfield (9-9, 9-6) travels to Mahar Regional School on Monday.

Turners Falls 56, Hopkins 55 — Hopkins Academy continues to show the Hampshire League that it is becoming a force.

The Golden Hawks nearly upset HL-leader Turners Falls High School Thursday night but a final shot was off the mark and the Indians hung on for a 56-55 victory in Hadley.

The Indians (14-3, 11-2) led 56-55 in the waning seconds and Melvin Moreno went to the free-throw line for a 1-and-1. The senior guard missed the front end, giving Hopkins a chance to go down the court and tie it. The Golden Hawks (8-7, 5-7) took a timeout to draw up a play but missed a shot that would have won the game. The team got the rebound, and Spencer Butterfield had a chance along the baseline as the clock expired, but his floater from 12 feet was off the mark and the Indians survived.

“Hopkins has been playing well and we knew coming in it was going to be tough,” Turners Falls assistant Jay Liimatainen said. “They got up on us and played man-to-man defense. They’ve got size and they make you work.”

Turners Falls trailed 27-24 at halftime but tied it at the end of the third quarter, setting up the decisive fourth. Indian leading scorer Liam Ellis stepped up with the game on the line, scoring nine of the Indians’ 10 fourth-quarter points to finish with a team-high 19. Malcolm Smith had his best all-around game in some time with 15 points, 5 steals, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Nick York added 9 points. Moreno finished with 7.

Brett Morrison led Hopkins with 19 points. Butterfield netted 10, and Alex Curran added 8.

Mahar 54, Frontier 52 — Frontier Regional School took a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter before Mahar rallied for a 54-52 victory in a HL boys’ basketball contest Thursday night at Goodnow Gymnasium in South Deerfield.

Mahar closed the gap to one with 30 seconds left, then, after a missed foul shot, Jake Paul got the rebound and scored on the putback to give the Senators the lead, 53-52.

Frontier missed a shot on its next possession, then missed a layup off a steal. Paul got the rebound and was fouled with 2 seconds left. He made the first free throw, missed the second, and time ran out before Frontier could take a desperation shot.

“I’m proud of the way our guys have competed,” said Red Hawks head coach Ben Barshefsky. “We’ll play well for a half, three quarters and even part of the fourth, but we’re finding a way to lose.

“It’s certainly frustrating, and it’s a learning experience,” he added. “Hopefully these close battles will pay dividends in a few years. ... Hat’s off to Mahar, though. They did a good job battling as always.”

Mahar had four players in double figures. Joey Verheyen and Troix Adams each netted 13 points for the Senators. Brendin Woodard and Nick Zanga bucketed 10 apiece.

Tim Hoar led all scorers with 24 points and pulled down 14 rebounds for the Red Hawks. Ben Ruddock drained four trifectas and finished with 13 points and 6 boards. Justin Farrick contributed 7 points and Niko Ames dished out 5 assists.

Smith Academy 69, Pioneer 39 — Smith Academy turned a one-point game at the half into as runaway as it downed Pioneer Valley Regional School, 69-39, in a HL boys’ basketball game Thursday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield.

Smith registered its best quarter of the contest coming out of the break, as it outscored the Panthers 22-5 to take a commanding 53-35 lead and rolled to the win.

Keith Natale led three double-digit scorers for the Falcons (13-3, 10-2 HL) with a game-high 21 points. Derek McMahon aided the win with 20 points, while David Longstreeth threw in 13.

Lennon Robichaud led Pioneer (7-8, 5-7) with 15 points. Eric Pratt tossed in 8.

Pioneer hosts St. Mary High School on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

Girls’ game

Easthampton 66, Turners Falls 32 — Courtney Nelson scored 21 points Thursday as Easthampton High School defeated Turners Falls, 66-32, in an independent girls’ basketball game in Turners Falls.

Kate Parczyh finished with 13 points for Easthampton. Teammate Kristin Windoloski added 9 .

Maddie Chmyzinski led Turners Falls with 7 points. Haleigh Bassett added 6.

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