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Quabbin outlasts state champions

The defending Division II state champs showed they can still play defense, but have some work to do in the offensive department.

Mahar Regional School scored just 21 points in the opening three quarters before making a run late. The comeback bid came up just short, however, and Quabbin Regional High School went on to record a 43-36 victory in an independent boys’ basketball game Friday night in Orange.

The Senators lost over 30 points worth of offense from last season with the graduation of guards Phil DiPhillipo and Jesse LaCroix. While Mahar coach Chad Softic said he has some players that can replace some of the lost offense, it wasn’t there in the season opener.

“A lot of credit goes to Quabbin, that was some of the best man-to-man defense we’ve seen in a long time,” the coach explained. “They came out and defended us 30 feet from the basket. We had a hard take taking them off the dribble. At the same time, we didn’t play with a lot of confidence. We missed a lot of shots.”

Quabbin jumped out to a 19-6 lead in the first quarter, and it was as much on the defensive end that the Senators struggled as on the offensive end.

“Our trademark has been our man-to-man defense and we got taken apart in the first quarter,” he said. “We were soft. But we showed a lot of toughness in the second half.”

The Panthers took a 24-15 lead into the break and added to the lead in the third quarter, at one point leading by as many as 16 points (34-18) before settling for a 34-21 advantage heading into the fourth. The Senators went on a 10-1 run to start the fourth and cut the deficit to four points, but could get no closer as Quabbin closed out the win.

Colby Milton paced Quabbin with 12 points, while Dylan Kiernan dumped in 10 points, and Griffin Bennett added 8.

Brendin Woodard drained four 3-pointer for the Senators to finish with 14 points. Joey Whitman added 14 points and eight rebounds for Mahar, and Joey Verheyen pulled down nine boards.

Girls’ games

Turners 55, Southwick 35 — Could Turners Falls High School be moving in the right direction?

The Indians erupted for 55 points on Friday night and opened the 2012-13 season with a resounding 55-35 victory over Southwick-Tolland Regional High School in an independent girls’ basketball game in Southwick.

The 55 points scored by the Indians is more than the team scored in any single game last season when the Indians won just four games. The effort on both ends of the court was exactly what first-year Indian coach Ted Wilcox was looking for.

“We came out in the first half and we executed,” he said.

The Indians outscored Southwick 17-7 in the first quarter and went on to win every quarter of the game, leading 33-19 at the break and increasing the edge to 46-27 after three.

“We played man-to-man defense the whole game, and I thought our defense was good all night,” Wilcox said. “It was nice to see the smiles on their faces after the game.”

Senior forward Tanisha Sanders registered a double-double, scoring a game-high 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Jenna Putala finished with 13 points, Amber Caouette added 8 points, and Brittany York chipped in 7 points, as did Katelyn Dodge, all on free throws.

Pioneer 31, Sci-Tech 30 — Pioneer Valley Regional School used a big third-quarter effort to edge Springfield School of Science & Technology, 31-30, in an independent girls’ basketball game Friday night in Springfield.

Both teams struggled to score in the first half and the CyberCats took a 14-8 lead into the break. Pioneer came out of the locker room and used a 16-9 edge in the frame to take a one-point lead into the fourth. It was exactly what first-year coach Meg Lilly was looking for out of her team.

“We made some adjustments coming out of the locker room,” she said. “Natalie Hale had a big quarter for us — she scored all 7 of her points in the third. Sci-Tech was a big strong team, and in the second half we realized we had to play at their level or else we were going to lose.”

The Panthers did not record a field goal in the fourth quarter but went 7-for-14 from the free throw line and hung on for the win.

Hale added six rebounds, three assists and two steals to go with her 7 points. Katlyn Grover chipped in seven points in the win, and Jocelyn Peters added 5. Alyssa Llewelyn finished with 5 points and six rebounds, Hailey Ramond added 5 points and seven boards, and Kiley Hubbard finished with three steals in a strong defensive performance.

Katherine Rodriguez led Sci-Tech with 9 points, and Delena Gasque and Brandi Bass each added 7.

Athol 52, Wahconah 44 — Athol High School held Wahconah Regional High School to just 13 second-half points and overcame an eight-point, third-quarter deficit to earn a 52-44 win in an independent girls’ basketball game Friday at Mallett Gymnasium in Athol.

Wahconah’s Gabby Lavinio got off to a quick start in the first half as she netted 15 points. Lavinio’s hot start triggered Athol head coach Dan Bevis to implement a box-and-one defense at halftime, with Tanner Favreau defending Lavinio. The strategy paid off as Favreau limited Lavino to just 5 second-half points.

“I really thought it was the turning point in the game,” Bevis explained. “Lavinio had a big first half and we went into halftime and put in the box-and-one and I thought the girls played a great second half on defense.”

Wahconah led 31-25 at the break and stretched the lead to eight points late in the third quarter before Athol ripped off an 8-0 run with 2:00 minutes left in the third to pull even at 39 apiece.

Athol pulled away in the fourth as Shelby Bronnes and Alexa Whitney each scored four points in the frame to put Athol ahead by two with 1:45 left. Bronnes would then hit her biggest basket of the night as she drained a 3 to put Athol ahead by five, and gave the Red Raiders some much needed breathing room. Wahconah never recovered, scoring just five points in the final eight minutes to go by the wayside.

Bronnes and Whitney each finished with 10 points on the night, and Favreau netted a team-high 13 points.

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