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Green Wave comes back to knock off Smith Academy

“That’s the best we’ve looked in three years.”

Those were the words out of Greenfield High School boys’ basketball coach Scott Thayer immediately following his team’s 55-53 triumph over Smith Academy in a battle of two of the top teams in the Hampshire League Monday night at Nichols Gymnasium in Greenfield.

Smith Academy (2-1) had been annihilating teams through the first two games of the season, scoring 86 and 75 points respectively, while allowing 69 total points. The Falcons, who lost in the WMass Division III title game last season, were picked by many to win the HL and make another run at the Division III championship, and for good reason, as guard Mat Sulda is widely considered to be the best shooter in the league and many teams will struggle to hold down the Falcon offense this season.

On this night, however, Greenfield did exactly that, limiting the Falcons to just nine fourth-quarter points en route to the comeback victory. A back-and-forth first half ended with Greenfield holding a 29-28 edge, but Smith bounced back in the third quarter to outscore the Green Wave 16-10 and take a 44-39 lead into the fourth. That lead stretched a bit more before the Green Wave clamped down on defense and clawed back into the game. Sulda hit a long-range 3-pointer with seven seconds left to make it a one-point affair, but Greenfield’s Robin Marchese hit 1-of-2 free throws, and Smith Academy’s Derek McMahon missed a desperation shot as time expired to end the game.

“We didn’t so much pressure on defense, but that was the best man-to-man, half-court defense that we’ve played all year,” Thayer said. “The other thing was that we competed until the end. It was fun to watch the kids compete and not get frustrated.”

The other aspect of the game that Thayer said helped his team to the victory was the ball movement.

“Our ball movement against the zone was great, and that’s not been one of our strong points,” Thayer said. “We’ve been struggling against the zone, we struggled against it against Turners Falls the other night. But tonight it was great. We even missed a lot of open shots where we had good ball movement.”

The two Green Wave bigs had big nights in Lew Borden and Connor Eckstrom. Borden paced a balanced offensive attack with 14 points, while Eckstrom scored 11. Both players also pulled down seven rebounds, and the duo combined to dish out nine assists.

“It shows you just how unselfish our bigs are,” Thayer said. “They led us in assists. They were making some nice passes that led to other kids getting easy buckets.”

Robin Marchese hit four 3-pointers en route to 13 points, while Tyler Miller added 8 points when he wasn’t busy trying to slow down Sulda on the defensive end.

“It was a team effort on Sulda, but Tyler did a great job,” Thayer added.

Keith Natale and Seaver Rickert each led Smith Academy with 14 points, while Sulda finished with 13.

“We came into this game and the saying was that we were going to win, or we were going to learn,” Thayer concluded. “We weren’t going to just lose. Well, we learned a lot about our team tonight, and we managed to win the game.”

Turners 61, Easthampton 52 — Melvin Moreno scored a career-high 23 points and Turners Falls High School continued to be the surprise team in the Hampshire League this season as it dispatched of Easthampton High School, 61-52, in a boys’ hoop game Monday night in Turners Falls.

With the Indians featuring a very different-looking lineup than the one it had last season, they remained a bit of a mystery entering this season, but after playing a close game against Greenfield last week and then beating Easthampton on Monday, the Indians appear to be a force to be reckoned with in the league.

Moreno is trying to replace some of the scoring lost to graduation last season and he has scored 57 points through the first three games of the season to average 19 points per game. The junior guard went 10-for-10 from the free throw line and also picked up five steals to highlight his big scoring night.

The Indians scored 27 points in the second quarter to take a 40-25 lead into halftime. Easthampton cut the deficit to seven points (47-40) entering the fourth and that was closed to within two points midway through the fourth, but the Indians hit their free throws down the stretch to close out the win. The Indians made just one field goal in the fourth quarter, but went 12-for-14 from the line in the final frame to seal the win. For the game the Indians shot 18-for-20 from the line.

Liam Ellis also had a big night for the Indians (2-1) with 18 points, while Summer Forest-Bulley finished with 5 points and five rebounds. Wyatt Bourbeau added 5 points and eight steals, and Nick York tossed in 5 points.

Chris Starcun led all scorers with 24 points in the loss.

Frontier 60, Hopkins 51 — Peter Watroba scored 19 points on Monday and Frontier Regional School earned a 60-51 win over Hopkins Academy in an HL boys’ basketball game in Hadley.

Paul Decker added 10 points in the win, Tim Hoar added 9 points, and Quinn Hickey netted 7.

Zach Kelly led Hopkins with 19 points, and Greg Pipczynski chipped in 12.

Mahar 57, Pioneer 34 — Mahar Regional School turned in a strong defensive performance to cruise to a 57-34 HL boys’ basketball victory over Pioneer Valley Regional School Monday night in Orange.

The Senators (3-1) held Pioneer to just 14 points in the first half and led 30-14 at the break. A 21-9 edge in scoring in the third quarter helped the defending Division II state champs ice the game.

“We played a good half-court, man defense,” Mahar coach Chad Softic said. “We stretched it out to full court, which allowed us to get some easy hoops. We certainly asserted ourselves on the defensive end tonight.”

Brendin Woodard had another nice game for the Senators, finished with a game-high 15 points to go along with six assists and six rebounds. Joey Whitman added 8 points, Joey Verheyen finished with 9 points, six rebounds and four blocked shots, and Drew Patria hit a pair of 3s to finish with 6 points and four assists.

Lennon Robichaud led Pioneer (0-3) with 10 points, while Lee Doiron and Eric Pratt each tossed in 8 points.

Girls’ basketball

Easthampton 56, Turners Falls 34 — Elizabeth Whitney may be top player in the Franklin County League this season and she continued to show how tough she can be on opposing defenses on Monday.

The Easthampton center scored a game-high 22 points and the Eagles knocked off Turners Falls, 56-34, in girls’ basketball action in Easthampton.

“She’ll just kill you,” Turners Falls coach Ted Wilcox. “She’s a very good low post player. We tried double teaming her, but she’s a smart girl and she bounce-passed off to teammates for some easy buckets.”

Easthampton (3-1) opened up a 20-9 lead after the first quarter and while the Eagles continued to add to the lead over the next two quarters, Wilcox said he was pleased with the job his team did.

“You’re never happy to lose by 22 points, but this team is making progress,” he said. “They’re starting to find out that they can play.”

Jenna Putala had a solid night with 13 points for the Indians, while Tanisha Sanders netted 8 points. Amber Caouette dumped in 5 points, and Katelyn Dodge chipped in 4.

Hockey

Turners 4, Comp 3 — Trevor Peduzzi scored with eight seconds left and Turners Falls High School rebounded from a 3-0 deficit to come from behind and earn a 4-3 win over Chicopee Comprehensive High School in a Wright Division hockey game Monday night at Fitzpatrick Rink in Chicopee.

The score was tied at 3-3 when the Indians called a timeout with 17 seconds left and the faceoff in their defensive zone. Cody Booska took the faceoff and pushed the puck ahead to Tim McMahon, who gained some speed through the neutral zone and went into the Colts’ zone on a 2-on-1 with Peduzzi. McMahon slid a pass across to Peduzzi, who snipped a shot past Colt goalie Parker Nunez to net the game winner.

Chicopee Comp scored three first-period goals to take a 3-0 lead after one. Colin Robinson and Travis Seymour each had one goal and one assist in the opening frame, and Jeremy Lewis added the third marker. The Indians used the power play to pull even in the second period. Turners opened by scoring an even-strength goal when Peduzzi and Booska set up Tim McMahon, and Peduzzi followed it up a little later with a power play goal from Brandon Lenois. The Indians tied the score on the power play on McMahon’s second of the game with Indian goalie Brandon Bryant picking up the assist.

Nunez finished with 40 saves in the loss, while Bryant made 26 saves in the victory.

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