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Athol finishes league undefeated

Mahar's Natasha Patria (23) wheels around Athol defender Julia Salmond (22) Thursday night at Grzesik-Bixby Gym in Oranage, where the host Senatorsfell to the visiting Raiders, 58-45, in their Franklin County League girls' basketball showdown.
Recorder/Mike Phillips

Mahar's Natasha Patria (23) wheels around Athol defender Julia Salmond (22) Thursday night at Grzesik-Bixby Gym in Oranage, where the host Senatorsfell to the visiting Raiders, 58-45, in their Franklin County League girls' basketball showdown. Recorder/Mike Phillips

Athol High School put the finishing touches on an unbeaten season in Franklin County League North Division play with a 58-45 victory over Mahar Regional School Wednesday night at Grzesik-Bixby Gymnasium in Orange.

The Red Raiders (18-2 overall, 8-0 FCL North) used a 12-6 third-quarter scoring edge to take a comfortable lead in the fourth. Mahar (10-10, 3-5) didn’t help its cause by shooting just 12-of-27 from the free-throw line. While it was not the result Mahar coach Larry Fisher was necessarily looking for, he was pleased with the effort as the team prepares for postseason play.

“We’re happy that we came out to play tonight,” Fisher said. “The last time we played, it wasn’t even a game, they beat us by about 30 points. I feel at this point, it’s not a bad way to end the season. I think we can be competitive with anyone in the tournament.”

Tanner Favreau finished with 14 points to lead Athol, while Molly Cleveland and Julia Salmond each netted 11 points. Kiki Guerin dumped in 9 points, and Emily Casella chipped in 7.

Natasha Patria led all scorers with 15 points in the loss as she dropped three 3-pointers. Cassie Verheyen added 9 points, and Ally Parker chipped in 5.

Both teams will learn their fates in the postseason when the seeds are released Saturday at noon.

Pathfinder 41, FC Tech 33 — Pathfinder Vocational High School earned a share of the Tri-County League North title with a 41-33 win over Franklin County Technical School in a girls’ basketball game Wednesday night in Turners Falls.

Arrianna Riley netted a dozen points to lead the Pioneers (12-7, 7-3 North), while Hope Holmes finished with 8 and Marisa Riley chipped in with 7.

The Eagles’ Brittany Andrews led all scorers with 14 points. Brooke Meuse added 7 and Alyssa Andrews had 6.

Pathfinder led 20-14 at intermission.

Franklin Tech (10-9, 3-6) hosts Springfield School of Science & Technology today at 3:30 p.m. in its regular season finale.

Boys’ games

Mahar 46, Athol 44 — It was perhaps the perfect way for Mahar to wrap up the regular season.

It has been a year of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde-type performances for the Senatorsm, who on Wednesday night had their hands full against rival Athol before a pair of free throws with seven seconds left from Nick Slattery lifted Mahar to a 46-44 Hampshire League boys’ basketball win in Orange.

The Senators finished the regular season 15-5, but it has not been without trials and tribulations. Mahar got off to a slow start, then caught fire at the midpoint, beating each of the top three teams in the HL, including decimating then-HL leading Turners Falls High School, 63-32, on Jan. 20. But things have taken a turn in the wrong direction in recent weeks. With Wednesday night’s two-point win over Athol, the Senators have also narrowly beaten each of the three worst teams in the HL, three teams that are not going to be playing in the tournament. Mahar beat Mohawk Trail Regional High School (45-44) on Feb. 3, it edged Frontier Regional School (54-52) on Feb. 6, then survived a scare from Athol in its regular-season finale.

“It hasn’t really clicked all season,” frustrated Mahar coach Chad Softic said. “We’re a very immature team, and on any given night we’re not sure what we’re going to get. We can be very good at times, and we can really struggle. There doesn’t seem to be much margin for error. We either are, or we’re not.”

Mahar led 27-25 at halftime and had a four-point lead (39-35) entering the fourth, but Athol (2-18 overall) clawed back into the game and tied things up at 44-44 with under a minute to play. Slattery picked up the game-winning foul with seven seconds left when he was hit on the arm well away from the basket. He went to the line to shoot 1-and-1, knocking down both shots. Athol took a desperation 3-pointer that was off the mark at the buzzer. The fact that the game was won on free throws for Mahar was a bit ironic, because it was the Senators’ foul shooting that contributed to the game being so close. Entering the fourth quarter, Mahar was 2-of-11 from the “charity” stripe, but the Senators went 5-for-6 in the fourth quarter.

Troix Adams was the only Senator player to hit double-digit scoring, finishing with 11 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 4 steals. Joey Verheyen added 9 points, and Slattery dumped in 7.

Zach Dodge led Athol with 11 points, Eric Aikey dumped in 8, and Alex Page netted 7.

Turners Falls 65, Frontier 57 — Liam Ellis hit four 3-pointers and finished with 26 points, 6 rebounds and 5 steals on Wednesday night as Turners Falls ended the regular season with a 65-57 HL boys’ basketball win over Frontier in Turners Falls.

The Indians (16-4) finished the season 13-3 in the HL, one game back of division champion Smith Academy. The Indians finished the season with seven wins in their past eight games, suffering their lone loss of that stretch to the Falcons.

The Red Hawks (5-15) put up some resistance to the Indians, and actually led 13-11 after one quarter. But a 21-point second-quarter output by the Indian offense left the hosts with a 32-24 lead at the break, and they would never relinquish it. The loss marked the end of a trying season for Frontier, which found itself in nearly every game it played against the elite teams in the HL, but continually found itself on the losing end.

Malcolm smith added 18 points, 7 rebounds and 7 steals for the Indians, while Nick York dumped in 8 points.

Ben Ruddock led Frontier with 18 points, Tim Hoar added 14, Justin Farrick netted 10, and Niko Ames chipped in 7.

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