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Eagles’ tourney hopes dwindling

Franklin County Technical School will have to win its final three games of the season to reach the postseason after dropping a 93-74 decision to Athol High School in an independent boys’ basketball game Monday night at Mallet Gymnasium in Athol.

The Eagles are mired in a two-game losing streak and must now win out in order to reach the WMass Division III tourney. The biggest test will come tonight when the Eagles host Smith Vocational & Agricultural High School at 6:30 p.m. The Vikings are currently second in the Tri-County League and defeated the Eagles (7-10 overall) 62-57 earlier this season.

The game also featured three of the top four area scorers. Athol senior center Adrian Sexton, who entered the game averaging 15.9 points per game to sit third in the area (second among Hampshire League players) netted 28 points. Although his offense was big for the Red Raiders, his defense on Franklin Tech center Chris Wetherby was equally as important. Wetherby, who entered the game fourth in area scoring with 14.9 points per game, netted just 7 points.

Area-leading scorer Jake Earl matched Sexton for the game’s high scorer with 28 points. Earl entered the night averaging 21.9 points this season and has now scored 379 on the year.

The difference in the game came down to Athol’s seven players with 6 points or more. Zach Dodge, who entered the game averaging 7.1 points per contest, matched a season-high with 17 points, while Javier Morales (1.9 point per game average) and Garrett Hall (0.8 points per game) each far-exceeded their averages with 9 points apiece. Jerry Parker finished with 7 points and Bradley Bousquet and Tyler Guerin each chipped in 6 points. The win moves Athol to 6-11 on the season, doubling the team’s win total from a season ago with three games to play.

Nate Boyer had a outstanding night for the Eagles with a career-high 27 points, including four 3-pointers, many of which came in the fourth quarter as the team tried to rally.

Pioneer 64, Mohawk 56 — Brian Llewelyn matched a career-high with 15 points and Pioneer Valley Regional School earned a 64-56 Hampshire League boys’ basketball victory over Mohawk Trail Regional High School Monday night in Buckland.

Lennon Robichaud helped the Panthers (6-11, 5-11) build a 34-23 halftime lead as he scored 15 of his game-high 17 points in the first half. Drew Hastings netted a pair of 3-pointers en route to 10 points, while Kyle Artus added 6 points.

Jay Foriter scored a career-high 15 points for Mohawk (2-16, 1-15), while Mark Buck paced the team with 16 points. Connor Maloney added 8 points, Josh Willis netted 7 points, and Alex Buntin tossed in 5.

Girls’ hoops

Hopkins 66, Pioneer 39 — Pioneer must win its final two games of the season in order to qualify for the western Mass. Division III Girls’ Basketball Tournament after dropping a 66-39 decision to Hopkins Academy during a Franklin County League girls’ basketball game Monday night in Northfield.

The Panthers (8-10, 6-10) will have to hand Athol its first loss of the season on Thursday night if they are going to get into the postseason.

Hopkins (10-8, 10-6) clinched a postseason berth of its own with the victory. The Golden Hawks got off to a fast start, taking a 12-2 lead after one and a 25-12 halftime advantage. The lead increased to 44-20 after three quarters, although the Panthers managed to cut the deficit back down to 10 points, forcing Hopkins to reinsert starters late in the fourth quarter. Pioneer coach Meg Lilly said that the biggest issue plaguing her team on Monday night was turnovers, something the team has improved on this season.

“We had far too many,” she began. “We were averaging in the upper 40s at the beginning of the season and we knocked that down to about 15 a game, which is great for a young team. But tonight we had 38 turnovers, which is far too many.”

Olivia Mathieu and Kate Sullivan each finished with 15 points to pace a balanced Hopkins attack. Madi Stevens added 14 points in the win. Mackenzie Sullivan netted 12.

Natalie Hale continued her impressive sophomore campaign for the Panthers with a game-high 21 points. Hale, who entered the game second in area-scoring at 14.7 points per game this season, also added 10 rebounds and six steals.

“She does it all,” Lilly said. “She rebounds, she steals and she scores. And what’s great to know is that there is so much more that she can improve upon.”

Gabby Carpenter finished with 10 points in the loss, and Katelyn Grover tossed in 6 points.

Hockey

South Hadley 3, Greenfield 2 — Greenfield High School may not have clinched a spot in the postseason but the Wave may have at least sent a message should it get there by coming up just short against South Hadley High School in a 3-2 independent hockey loss Monday afternoon at Fitzpatrick Arena in Holyoke.

The Green Wave is still two points away from qualifying for the postseason with four games to play, but it nearly clinched against a South Hadley (11-2-2) team that is currently leading the Wright Division. Despite the loss, Greenfield coach Mike Duclos said his club played well against one of the top teams in Division IIIA.

“We were driving to the net and had a lot of chances, we just didn’t finish,” he explained. “(Goalie Noah Foster-Marquis) played very well again. I think we could have easily won this game. I thought we sent a good message: that if we see them in the playoffs, we can beat them.”

South Hadley took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from Joe Whalen and Tom Dowd (shorthanded). The Green Wave (9-7-0) got one goal back with two minutes left in the first period on a goal from Dillon Dodge with Jake Elwell notching an assist.

The Tigers regained the two-goal cushion with the only goal of the second period coming off the stick of Dom Florence. Greenfield managed to get one goal back with 4 minutes, 19 seconds left in the third period, when Josh Brandl scored his 12th goal of the season on assists from Jourdan York-Welcome and Kyle Smith. That was the final shot Greenfield managed to get past Tiger goalie Devin Hoagland, who finished with 30 saves on the night.

Foster Marquis made 44 saves in the tough-luck loss.

Greenfield will try to clinch the playoff berth tonight at Collins-Moylan Arena in Greenfield at 7:30 when it hosts Amherst High School.

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