Frontier no match for Crusaders, 65-43
PITTSFIELD — Frontier Regional School boys basketball coach Ben Barshefsky’s scouting report of defending Western Massachusetts Division III champion St. Joseph Central High School wasn’t complicated. Guard Taverick Roberson and forward Mike Carpenter were going to get their points.
Barshefsky and the Red Hawks weren’t counting on power forward Lavante Wiggins getting 17 points — all after a scoreless first quarter. That output helped the sixth-seeded Crusaders knock off the No. 11 Red Hawks, 65-43, in a Division III first-round game Tuesday night at the Boys and Girls Club.
“He’s a very strong kid, active, and we had a tough time with him,” said Barshefsky. “He was finding a way to get to the basket.”
That was an understatement.
After one quarter, the Red Hawks were within a point at 14-13, and in a place where Barshefsky wanted. His game plan was to play deliberate basketball and keep the Crusaders from getting out on the break.
“I think we did a good job at the beginning, taking care of the ball,” said the Frontier coach. “Then we started floating a few crosscourt passes and that got us in trouble. That was key, because they’re so quick and they were looking for us to float passes.”
Wiggins did not take a shot in the first quarter, committed a turnover and spent some time on the bench. All that changed in the second quarter as the senior scored his team’s first eight points, turning a one-point game into a seven-point lead for St. Joseph (12-8).
“My teammates came to the bench and told me we only have a (one)-point lead. They said, ‘We’ve got to get you the ball. You’ve got to get going,’” Wiggins said. “Starting at the beginning of the second quarter, they gave me the ball twice and got two quick scores.
They called a time out and we had the energy.”
Wiggins’ first two hoops were copies of each other. Both times, he got the ball down low and muscled past the Frontier defenders to score.
Wiggins made two free throws the next time he went to the basket and capped off his eight-point spurt converting a Roberson pass.
Wiggins also helped account for six of his team’s last nine points of the second quarter. He penetrated to the hoop and passed to Jon Bianchi for a 3-pointer from the right corner and converted an old-fashioned 3-point play with 45 seconds to play. Roberson closed out the half with a basket, the Crusaders led 33-23, and the Red Hawks never caught up.
Carpenter finished with eight rebounds and two steals to go with his game-high 24 points. Roberson had 17 points, seven rebounds and a game-high five assists.
The Crusaders forced 22 Frontier turnovers, and scored 19 points off those turnovers.
“That’s not because of a lack of effort on our end,” said Barshefsky. “I’m proud of the way the guys played tonight. I’m proud of all of the seniors and everything they’ve given the program.”
Tim Hoar had 10 points to lead the Red Hawks (11-10) Tuesday night. He was the only Frontier player to score in double figures, and the sophomore said this year is a good jumping-off point for him.
“This season just gave me so much confidence,” Hoar said. “These guys just taught me so much. Coach has taught me so much. I’m just looking forward to next year.”
Paul Decker scored nine points and Quinn Hickey had eight for Frontier.