H.S. Roundup: No. 1 Mahar pulls away in fourth quarter to defeat No. 8 Lenox in Class C quarters

Mahar’€™s Jayden Delgado is defended by Drury’€™s Connor Hinkell in Orange earlier this season.

Mahar’€™s Jayden Delgado is defended by Drury’€™s Connor Hinkell in Orange earlier this season. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL Franz

By THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer

Published: 02-20-2024 9:18 PM

Modified: 02-20-2024 9:20 PM


ORANGE — The Lenox boys basketball team gave top-seeded Mahar all it could handle on Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the Western Mass. Class C tournament.

The No. 8 Millionaires were hitting shots early while its zone gave the Sens problems, with Lenox trailing just 24-21 at the half and 32-31 late in the third quarter.

Mahar closed out the third quarter on a 5-0 run and took over the game from there, outscoring the Millionaires 20-11 in the final eight minutes of action to advance to the semis with a 57-42 victory.

“We got a couple long rebounds and were able to get out in transition,” Senator coach Chad Softic said. “I don’t think it was anything we really did. They were down some bigs so they had to chuck it from the perimeter. We have a lot of stuff to clean up. We were getting beat off the dribble. We extended when we didn’t need to, we were poor on ball screens. It was a recipe for an upset loss in the tournament. We were lucky to survive it.”

The Mahar win sets up a massive matchup in the semifinals, with the Senators hosting rival Athol on Thursday at 6 p.m.

It was the transition game that helped spark Mahar (14-5) in the second half on Tuesday.

Lucas Isrow converted an and-one before Jayden Delgado got inside for two to close out the third, giving the Sens a 37-31 lead going into the final quarter of action.

With Lenox down three big men due to injury and vacation heading into the game, Mahar used its size to attack the rim in the fourth, getting to the line often and going 7-8 from the charity stripe in the fourth.

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Morgan Softic was a catalyst for the fourth quarter run for the Senators, knocking down a trey that put Mahar ahead 42-33, getting to the line for a pair before hitting a midrange jumper to put the Sens up, 46-35.

Luke Gamberoni got inside for two for Lenox (4-15) but Mahar responded with an 8-0 run to put the game away. Will Barnes made a free throw, Isrow converted another and-one, Derek Collins made a pair from the line and Softic got to the rim for two, putting the Senators ahead 54-37 in the final minutes.

“We were rotating the ball through the high post and the weak side a bit better in the fourth,” Softic said. “They came in with no size, played a 2-3 and we struggled for four quarters.”

Without their size, Lenox stayed in the game with its shooting in the first half.

Brendan Ward swished a pair of 3’s in the first quarter while Max Shepardson connected from downtown, helping the Millionaires build a 13-10 lead after one quarter.

That shooting carried into the second quarter, as Gamberoni and Shepardson each made shots from deep to help Lenox take a 21-14 lead.

Mahar closed out the half on a 10-0 run to take the lead, with Barnes, Softic and Isrow making baskets while Marshall Ames made a pair of free throws to give the Senators their 24-21 lead at the half.

Chris Lyon and Shepardson made 3’s to open the third for Lenox but those would be its final shots made from 3-point land for until the final minute of the fourth quarter.

Delgago scored six points in the third to help Mahar hold a lead going into the fourth.

Softic led the way with 16 points. Isrow scored 14 points, Delgado finished with 12 points and Collins added five points in the win. 

Thursday’s matchup against the Bears will be one of the most anticipated in the long rivalry between the two schools.

Athol and Mahar have played twice in the regular season, with the Senators winning both matchups. Those two losses are the lone games the Bears have lost all season.

“It’s going to be great for the area,” Softic said. “It’s the most meaningful game we’ve had with them in my coaching career. To see them in the tournament and doing well, I’m happy for [Athol coach Brian Patria]. We have our hands full. They’re playing good basketball. It’ll be tough. It’s going to be great for the area. That’s the biggest thing. It’ll be a packed gym and a great atmosphere. We’ll need to be mentally tough to win.”

Non-playoff games

Turners Falls 73, Lee 62 — Branden Truesdell erupted for 30 points, helping lead the Thunder past the Wildcats in Lee on Tuesday. 

Turners closed out its regular season with an 8-12 record. 

Jackson Cogswell scored 14 points and pulled down eight rebounds, Dylen Richardson tallied 11 points, Deven Sloan scored seven points, Alex Quezada recorded five points, eight rebounds and four steals while Caden Williams-Senethavisouk had four points and nine rebounds in the victory. 

Frontier 61, West Springfield 48 — The Redhawks pulled ahead 33-14 at the half to pull away with a non-playoff win over the Terriers in South Deerfield on Tuesday.

Owen Babb tossed in 21 points, Nico Fasulo tallied 18 points while Max Millette scored 10 points in the victory.

Sitting at nine wins on the season, Frontier travels to Commerce on Thursday with a chance to clinch a spot in the state tournament.

Girls basketball

Non-playoff games

Mount Everett 53, Athol 27 — Ally Robertson scored 11 points for the Bears in a loss to the Eagles on Tuesday in Sheffield. 

Jenna Bonenfant scored seven points while Olivia Horrigan added six points for Athol. 

 

Monday results

Pioneer 63, Duggan 25 — Kyler McClelland made eight 3’s to finish with 29 points, helping the Panthers advance to the Class D semis with a victory over the Jayhawks at Messer Gymnasium on Monday.

Addie Harrington scored 14 points while Natalie Rios and Hailey Rin g both tallied seven points for Pioneer.