Greenfield buries Palmer
Green wave 3 Connor Eckstrom P35 Zach Russo G23 Lew Borden P1 Kyle Ingram
Green wave 24 Tyler Miller Palmer 35 Zach Russo
Green wave 21 Garrett Hudson Palmer 1 Kyle Ingram
Green wave 24 Tyler Miller Palmer 35
GREENFIELD — Throughout the regular season, the Greenfield High School boys’ basketball team has lived very well indeed, allowing 40 points per game to the opposition en route to an 18-2 record.
Now, with the second season underway, the Green Wave used its first Western Mass. Division II tournament game Thursday as an opportunity to take that figure and cut it exactly in half.
Greenfield hounded Palmer High School into 33 turnovers and held the Panthers to only two points in both the first and third quarters in a 59-20 quarterfinal blitz at Nichols Gymnasium.
Robin Marchese threw in three 3-pointers and 15 points to lead the Green Wave (19-2), with Vin Funari and Garrett Hudson adding 10 apiece and Lew Borden nine. Greenfield advanced to face fourth-seeded Taconic High School of Pittsfield in the Division II semifinals at Curry Hicks Cage at UMass; the date and time of that game are still to be determined.
“We had five games in eight days at the end of the (regular) season, and we kind of got out of what we do,” said Green Wave coach Scott Thayer, referring to his team’s 2-2 finish after a 16-0 start. “The last few practices have been very heated, aggressive, and we’ve gotten a lot out of it. They wanted to make a point. We’ve hung our hat on defense all year long.”
Palmer (11-10), the No. 8 seed, began the year 8-2, then dropped seven of its last 10, including all of its last three. Those struggles carried over into Thursday, when the Panthers turned the ball over 10 times in the first quarter alone and trailed 15-2 after eight minutes. That deficit came after Palmer’s Leon Marsh scored the first bucket of the game 90 seconds in.
Connor Eckstrom put the Wave on the board with a free throw and Hudson’s wing jumper gave the hosts the lead to stay. Marchese bombed his first 3-pointer, then Borden made two at the line and scored on a stickback. Marchese added another trey and Borden converted another offensive rebound, as Palmer couldn’t even get out of the quarter without calling its second timeout with 9.5 seconds to play. Even though it shot only 5-of-17 from the floor in the first quarter, Greenfield led comfortably by 13 at the break.
Kamil Stasiowski started Palmer off in the second with a 3-pointer to make it 15-5, but Marchese dropped in a runner from the lane and Tim Cooley finished off an old-fashioned 3-point play for a 20-5 lead and another Panther timeout with 5:33 left in the half. Troy Remillard came off the Palmer bench for six straight points to make it 20-11, but his basket with 2:29 to go proved the last points the Panthers would score for over 10 minutes.
Greenfield finished the half with a layup by Eckstrom, a steal and fast-break score by Marchese and a freebie by Borden to go to the locker room ahead 25-11.
That run continued straight into the third quarter, where the Wave nearly pitched a shutout and avalanched on the Panthers with 21 consecutive points. Marchese got Greenfield started with a 3-pointer and a runner from the left baseline, and Funari added a putback and two at the line. By the time it got to 38-11, Palmer called another beleaguered timeout, but it didn’t help as the Wave ran off eight more in a row. Only Max Garrant’s basket with 26 seconds left kept Palmer from a whitewash in the quarter, trailing 46-13. The Wave harassed the Panthers into 13 turnovers in all during the third.
For the night, Palmer took 31 shots from the floor, making eight, against its 33 turnovers. Stasiowski and Remillard each scored seven points to lead the Panthers.
“We’ve tried to turn people over a lot all year,” said Thayer. “Sometimes we get in a rut and we turn it back over, or our offense doesn’t get the fluidity it needs. But your defense will keep you in the game and gives you an opportunity to win.”
Greenfield’s advance to the Division II semifinals marks the Wave’s first trip to Curry Hicks Cage since 2004.