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Senators jolt Greenfield , 43-28

Mahar Regional School is looking like a team on a mission to make another run at a WMass Division II boys’ basketball title.

Greenfield High School? That’s still up for debate.

Playing in what head coach Scott Thayer said was easily the worst game his club has played all season, the Green Wave blew the opportunity to finish the season unbeaten in Hampshire League play as it closed out the regular season with a 43-28 defeat at the hands of the Senators Wednesday night at Nichols Gymnasium in Greenfield.

Greenfield easily finished with a season-low offensive output and lost for just the second time on the year. The first loss came at the hands of Springfield School of Science & Technology by five points earlier this month, but Thayer was pleased with the effort level in that defeat. That was in stark contrast to what happened against the Senators in the season finale, and afterward Thayer expressed the disappointment he felt.

“We had no energy,” he began. “Mahar came out and played a great game. They beat us to every loose ball, they were aggressive, they shared the ball with everybody and we were just the total opposite. It’s not the losing I’m upset with, but it’s the way we lost. You don’t compete, you don’t control your emotions. It’s something we haven’t done all year. That’s how we played last year. We played very selfish basketball tonight.”

Mahar (15-5 overall, 14-4 HL) used a stingy defensive effort to hold the Green Wave (18-2, 17-1) to just 16 points in the first half and the Senators went into the break up 21-16. They increased the lead to 10 points (33-23) entering the fourth quarter and held Greenfield to just five points in the fourth to close the Wave out.

“We just didn’t want to be aggressive, didn’t make fundamental plays,” Thayer said. “It was still 21-16 at halftime, and in the fourth quarter it was 10 points, it wasn’t like the game got away from us, we still had a chance. But a couple of kids lost their cool and it spiraled down hill from there. It’s just disappointing and it’s not they way you want to go into the tournament.”

Garrett Hudson was the only Wave player to break into double figures with 10 points, while Tyler Miller added 6, and Robin Marchese tossed in 5. Green Wave forward Lew Borden, who entered the game averaging 12 points per game, was held to just 2 points. Thayer said that his team will now have to put the loss behind them and get back to work if they are to make any noise in the postseason.

“We’ve got to get back in the gym and start practicing,” he said. “We’ve got to have a short memory and go from there.”

Mahar, meanwhile, continues a torrid ending to the season, in which it has now beaten both the HL West Division (Smith Academy) and East Division (Greenfield) champions in the span of six days. The Senators have struggled offensively at times this season but coach Chad Softic said his team is playing defense as well as the team that won both the WMass and State Division II titles.

“It’s been a growing curve for this team this season,” he offered. “It hasn’t all been rosy, but I think I said to you before that if we could get through it, we’d be a tough team to beat in the tournament. The kids are playing well right now, they fought through it and I’m proud of them.

“Over the last week, the defense has been pretty good,” he continued. “The kids are treating every possession like it’s the last possession, and that’s our motto in practice. We’ve been doing a phenomenal job rebounding the ball as well, and that’s been big for us.”

Brendin Woodard finished with 12 points in the win, while Nick Slattery added 10 points. Joey Verheyen chipped in 7 points, and Troix Adams tossed in 6.

Both teams will learn their seeding fate on Saturday at noon at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield when the seeds are announced.

Girls’ game

Belchertown 54, Mahar 29 — Playing without do-it-all point guard Jill Valley Wednesday night, Mahar struggled to stay with Belchertown High School and the Senators closed out the regular season with a 54-29 loss in an independent girls’ game in Belchertown.

Valley leads the Recorder-area in scoring with 18.4 points per game and is among the team leaders in rebounding. Perhaps even more important, the four-year player brings the ball up the floor and is responsible for running the offense. Without her the Senators (16-4) committed 24 turnovers, although Mahar coach Larry Fisher would not use the absence of his star player as an excuse.

“After the first quarter it was 6-6,” he began. “I thought we were playing well. But we uncharacteristically lost our composure and made some real bad decisions with the ball in the second quarter. In the second half, they just wanted the ball more. They were bigger and stronger, and we missed seven layups that we generally make. We missed Jill’s points and rebounds, but we missed her leadership.”

The Orioles outscored Mahar, 22-13, in the second quarter to take a commanding lead and then limited the Senators to 10 second-half points. Marissa Kopacz led Belchertown with 23 points, and Tea Spellacy added 12.

Natasha Patria paced Mahar with 17 points, while Ally Parker finished with 3 points and six rebounds, to lead the team in rebounding.

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