Pioneer Valley Regional School put the finishing touches on its first postseason berth in four years Friday night.
The Panthers used a big fourth-quarter effort to put away Athol High School and punch their tournament ticket with a 62-47 Hampshire League boys’ basketball win at Mallet Gymnasium in Athol.
Pioneer (10-9 overall, 7-8 HL) will now give the seniors on the team their first p ostseason exposure.
“The great thing about tournament is that once you’re there, anything can happen,” said Coach Dave Hastings.
Pioneer held a 42-38 after three quarters but outscored the Red Raiders, 20-9, in the fourth to pull away for the win. Athol had the deficit to three points at one time in the fourth, but a 3-pointer by Brad Hastings gave the Panthers momentum they never surrendered.
Lennon Robichaud led all scorers with 24 points for Pioneer, while Hastings added 12, Lee Doiron 9.
Zach Dodge led Athol (2-16) with 14 points. Alex Page and Eric Aikey each chipped in 11.
Smith Academy 55, Mahar 54 (OT) — Mahar Regional High School is headed for the Division III Western Massachusetts Basketball Tournament, but after a 55-54 overtime loss to Hampshire League foe Smith Academy in Hatfield Friday night, Senators’ head coach Chad Softic is less than confident in his team’s prospects.
“ We had 19 turnovers on the night and that just killed us,” he said. “We’re making too many mental errors and showing a lack of concentration and awareness, and you just can’t have that come tournament time.”
The Senators (14-5) were leading by 2 with four seconds to go in the extra frame when Smith’s Keith Natale pulled up and drained a 3-pointer from the corner to break Mahar’s back and make the bus ride home that much longer, especially given the plethora of Senator giveaways.
Troix Adams led Mahar with 11 points, and injured Nick Slattery poured in 10 with 13 boards.
“Nick gutted it out for us tonight, he was a little rusty, but played very well.” said Softic.
Joey Verheyen and Brendin Woodard each dropped in 9 for the Senators.
Natale had a monster game for the Falcons, dumping in 29.
Mahar wraps up its season at home vs. rival Athol High School Wednesday night.
Mahar 55, Hopkins 35 — The Mahar girls’ basketball team knew that Friday night would be its best chance to qualify for the postseason, and it showed in the second half against Hopkins Academy.
The Senators outscored the Golden Hawks 22-11 in the third quarter and 33-15 in the second half to pull away from a two-point halftime lead and wrap up the tournament berth with a 55-35 Franklin County League North Division girls’ basketball game at Grzesik-Bixby Gymnasium in Orange.
The game was close at the break, with Mahar holding a 22-20 lead, but the Senators matched their first-half total in the third quarter alone to pull away.
“We threw a little different defense at them, pressing them and going into man-to-man at some points,” Mahar coach Larry Fisher said. “The girls knew that this was our chance and they stepped up. ”
Part of the reason for the offensive explosion was Mahar’s outside shooting, which helped open up what had been a tight first-half Hopkins zone defense. Mahar hit five of its seven 3-pointers after the break.
The win moved Mahar to 10-9. Had it lost, Mahar would have faced a must-win situation Wednesday night at home against Athol, a two-loss team that’s already beat the Senators.
Ally Parker finished with 20 points to lead the Senators . Cassie Verheyen finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 7 blocked shots.
Mackenzie Sullivan led Hopkins with 10 points.
Athol 54, Easthampton 31 — Athol held Easthampton High School to nine second-half points en route to a 54-31 thrashing Friday night in a Franklin County League North tilt at Mallet Gymnasium in Athol.
Kiki Guerin led the way for the Red Raiders (16-2 overall, 7-0 FCL North) with 16 points. Hope Parker was right behind her with 14.
Easthampton did not have a player reach double figures.
Athol, which has clinched the FCL North crown, next plays at Palmer High School Monday night, and will wrap up its stellar season against rival Mahar Regional High School Wednesday.
Pioneer 54, Greenfield 25 — Natalie Hale finished with 28 points, eight rebounds and 5 steals to lead Pioneer to a 54-25 FCL girls’ South Division win over Greenfield High School Friday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield.
Katlyn Grover finished with 6 points and 5 assists in the win.
Molley Duclos led Greenfield with 8 points.
Smith Academy 39, Turners Falls 24 — Katie Yagodzinski scored 16 points Friday night and Smith Academy defeated Turners Falls High School, 39-24, in a FCL South Division girls’ basketball game in Turners Falls.
Ashley Higgins added 15 points in the win.
Michelle Leh finished with 7 points and 10 rebounds in the loss, while Haleigh Bassett added 7 points and 9 boards.
Greenfield 5, Easthampton 3 — Greenfield scored once in the second and third periods to upend Easthampton, 5-3, in a Fay-Wright Division hockey game Friday night at Collins-Moylan Arena in Greenfield.
The Green Wave (14-1-2) trumped up the defense following a wild first period that saw each team score three times. Wave goalie Barrett Rogaleski, who allowed three goals on 12 shots in the first period, stopped all 16 shots he faced in the remaining two frames to help Greenfield lock up the win.
Greenfield took a 3-1 lead in the first period before the Eagles (8-6-0) scored twice in a 12-second span late in the period to tie the game. Zach Langlois opened the scoring 3 minutes, 22 seconds into the game on an assist from Cam Woodward, but Easthampton tied the score six minutes later on a Mike Grise goal. That started a wild finish to the period that saw the two teams combine to score five goals in just over five minutes.
Greenfield reclaimed the one-goal lead less than a minute after Grise tied it, when John Reindeau one-timed a pass from Langlois past Easthampton goalie Sean Rose for his first career varsity goal. Thirty seconds later the Green Wave went up 3-1 as Jourdan York-Welcome potted his 24th goal of the season on Langlois’ second helper of the game.
Easthampton roared back before the end of the period to tie things up. Tim Pfau cut the deficit to 3-2 with 2:26 left in the first period on assists from Grise and Alex Zadworny on a breakdown in front of the Green Wave goal, and 12 seconds later Zadworny tied it.
Greenfield recomposed itself in the second period and Woodward scored the eventual game-winner 5:09 into the frame with his fifth goal of the season on Langlois’ third helper of the night. Clay Richardson then scored his second goal in as many games in the third period.
Rose finished with 19 saves in the loss.
Greenfield takes on Turners Falls tonight at 6 in Greenfield in the Upton Cup game.