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Monument Mt. eliminates Panthers

GREAT BARRINGTON — A great first half of basketball slowly turned in Monument Mountain Regional High School’s favor.

The seventh-seeded Spartans took advantage of a lengthy scoring drought from No. 10 seed Pioneer Valley Regional School to build a nine-point lead after three quarters and never looked back in a 64-46 victory during the first round of the Western Massachusetts Division III Boys’ Basketball Tournament Tuesday night at Monument.

“That’s happened a lot to us during the season, where we’ll go through these periods of extended time without scoring,” explained Panther head coach Dave Hastings afterward. “Some games it happens, some games it doesn’t. This game was one where it did.”

The drought started after Lee Doiron drained a 3-pointer to tie the game at 25-all early in the third quarter, right after Monument forward Peter Oggiani — built more like a middle linebacker — converted a tradition three-point play on the Spartans’ opening possession of the second half. Pioneer went the next 4:15 without a point, and Monument scored the next nine points, four of them from senior forward Taylor White — the first on a beautiful baseline drive and reverse layup, the second on a spectacular alley-oop layup from Cam Powell.

The Spartans finished the quarter with a 40-31 lead, but they were far from finished offensively. The lead quickly grew to 14 (45-31) after a driving layup by Powell and an Oggiani 3-ball, prompting Hastings to call a timeout.

Pioneer (10-11) came out of the break and scored on a 10-foot baseline jumper from Lennon Robicahud (team-high 11 points), but Monument used a combination of easy press breaks and tough defnese to go on another 12-4 run open up a commanding 20-point lead (57-37).

After Pioneer made a free throw, the Spartans made seven out of 20 free throws for its biggest lead of the game, 64-38, before both teams emptied the benches to finish things up.

Monument was incredibly balanced, as four players scored in double figures and two others scored six or more. Sophomomre guard Branden Perry led the way with 12, but it was their defense that caught Hastings’ attention afterward.

“I give credit to Monument for the defense they played,” Hastings said. “When you come to the Berkshires, they play good aggressive defense. They did exactly what I thought they were going to do, and congratulations to them.”

Pioneer’s defense was equal to Monument and the Panthers were able to stay close throughout the first half. The Spartans led by six with 2:02 left in the opening stanza, but the Panthers scored 11 of the next 15 points to take their first lead of the contest, 15-14, on Brad Hastings’ driving layup with 5:35 left in the half. Hastings finished with 9 points, but he was shut out from the field and managed just 1 point in the second half.

Monument used a strong inside game to grab a four-point advantage, 21-17, but five straight Panther points — three of them coming after Powell was called for an intentional elbow against Hastings, giving Pioneer two free throws and possesson — put them ahead 22-21.

Spartan forward Hezekiah Adams was fouled at the end of the half, and made one of two shots to send the teams to the locker rooms tied, 22-22.

Monument (11-8) advances to face second-seeded and unbeaten Renaissance School (20-0) on Friday night at 7.

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