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Red Raiders smack Panthers, 51-32

Athol High School sent a message to the rest of western Massachusetts Friday night and got a little revenge in the process.

After losing twice to Palmer High School last season, including in the WMass Division II semifinals, the Red Raiders posted an impressive a 51-32 victory over the Panthers in an independent girls’ hoop game in Palmer.

“We talked about getting some revenge today, and we wanted to send a message to the rest of western Mass. that we are for real,” Athol coach Dan Bevis said.

The Red Raiders (11-0) remained unbeaten on the season using a strong defensive performance in the first half against the Panthers (7-6) that saw the hosts scored just 12 points. Athol led 27-12 at the break and outscored Palmer in each of the final two quarters to close out the win. Palmer leading scorer Alyssa Darling scored 16 points, but the next highest scorer on the Panthers had just 5 points, something that Bevis said was part of the game plan.

“Usually, when you play a team you want to stop their leading scorer, but this year we’ve managed to shut everybody else down,” he said. “It’s tough, because one of these games, someone will step up for another team, but I’ve got to give our girls credit, because they’ve worked hard the past couple of years to become better defenders and it’s showing this season.”

Offensively, the Red Raiders spread the ball around. Alexa Whitney, who leads the team with over 15 points per game, finished with 9 points in the win. Caitlin Muzzy led the charge with 13 points, while Shelby Bronnes netted 11. Nicole Guerin added 8 points, and Molly Cleveland dumped in 6.

“We are locked into an 18-game league schedule, so we try to schedule two of the better teams out there for our two independents,” Bevis said. “Not a knock on our league, but the Bi-County League has some really good competition and we saw that tonight. This should help us moving foward.”

Pioneer 50, Smith Academy 42 — Natalie Hale scored a game-high 24 points to go along with 12 rebounds and five steals as Pioneer Valley Regional School moved back to .500 on the season with a 50-42 victory over Smith Academy in Franklin County League girls’ basketball play Friday night in Northfield.

Pioneer (6-6) led 22-18 at halftime, but used a 17-6 edge in third quarter to pull away before holding off Smith in the fourth quarter. While Hale was putting on an offensive showcase for the Panthers, Ashley Higgins was trying to match her bucket for bucket on the other end as she finished with 22 points for the Falcons (2-9).

The difference came down to the rest of the team and while four other players combined to score the remaining 20 points for the Falcons, the Panthers got offense from seven other players. Katelyn Grover finished with 10 points for the winners, while Gabby Carpenter and Kiley Hubbard each netted 4 points. Alyssa Lleweyn finished with 3 points and five rebounds, while Hailey Raymond dumped in 4 points to go with five assists and four rebounds.

Swimming

Turners swept

Mackenzie Phillips won the 50 yard freestyle in 30.07 seconds but Turners Falls High School dropped a 68-24 decision to Chicopee High School during a PVIAC C Division swim meet Friday afternoon in Turners Falls.

Phillips also took second in the 100 free with a personal best time of 1 minute, 6.49 seconds. Teammate Mackenzie Salls picked up a second-place finish in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:16.54.

On the boys’ side, Jay Fritz won the 100 freestyle in 1:00.43 but the Indians lost by the same score as the girls, 68-24, to Chicopee.

Fritz also finished second in the 50 free in 27.22.

Ian MacPhail placed second in the 200 free (2:33.64) for the Indians, and later added a third in the 500 free in 6:48.27.

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