Sabis ousts Mahar
AMHERST — Alon Chappell had just one basket on Wednesday night, and was it huge.
The Sabis International Charter School senior’s layup with 6 seconds remaining in the game helped the top-seeded Bulldogs to a tense 43-42 victory over fourth-seeded Mahar Regional School in the WMass Division III boys’ basketball semifinals at Curry Hicks Cage.
The game-winner came just nine seconds after Mahar big man Jake Paul had drained a pair of clutch free throws to put the Senators back in front. Mahar led nearly the entire game, but the Senators struggled to score in the third quarter and early in the fourth, allowing Sabis to get back into the game. After Mahar led the entire way since early in the first quarter, the Bulldogs came back to claim their first lead since that time when Nelson Zayas (game-high 20 points) stole the ball from Mahar guard Malik Adams and scored on a breakaway layup with 3 minutes, 32 seconds left in the fourth quarter for a 36-35 lead. Mahar scored the next five points to take a 40-36 lead, but Sabis hung around. Mahar’s Nick Slattery had a chance to make things difficult for Sabis with 52.3 seconds left when he went to the free-throw line but missed both shots to keep Sabis down by two at 40-38. Zayas made Mahar pay as Sabis worked the ball up to the guard and Zayas hit an off-balanced, 12-footer as he was fouled to tie the score. The ensuing free throw was good and Sabis had a 41-40 lead with 42.7 seconds left, setting up the dramatic ending.
Mahar took control of the game early on behind a strong defensive performance that limited Sabis to just 2 points through the opening five minutes of play. Offensively, Mahar center Paul stepped up in place of injured starter Joey Verheyen, netting 8 points in the opening 8 minutes. The big man did his damage in a variety of ways, including a turnaround hook shot, and a 8-foot jumper. Sabis recovered to score 6 points in the final 3 minutes of the quarter, but a Drew Patria 3-pointer at the buzzer helped Mahar to a 16-8 lead after one.
That score could have been more lopsided had the Senators been able to knock down their free throws. Mahar went 1-for-7 from the not so charitable charity stripe in the first quarter and finished the first half a pathetic 3-for-11.
Sabis closed the gap to within four points late in the second quarter. While Zayas struggled to get his offensive game going, a number of other players stepped up for Sabis. Kevoy Wilson and Amari Brown each netted 6 points in the first half. That helped make up for Zayas, who averaged over 18 points per game in the regular season but managed just 2 points in the first 16 minutes.
Mahar’s Slattery, who led the Senators in scoring at nearly 13 points per game, got going in the second quarter after a scoreless first quarter (he only shot the ball twice). Slattery poured in 6 points in the second quarter to give Mahar a 25-20 lead at the break.
It was a lead Mahar maintained for nearly the rest of the game, but in the end it was Sabis that advanced to Saturday’s 4 p.m. WMass Division III title game, where it will take on third-seeded Hoosac Valley Regional High School.