Monument eliminates Frontier

For the Recorder
Sunday, March 04, 2018

GREAT BARRINGTON — Almost every time it looked like Monument Mountain Regional High School was going to end Frontier Regional School’s season, the Red Hawks were able to stop the top seeds in the Western Massachusetts Division III Boys’ Basketball Tournament from opening up an insurmountable lead.

It was that one time that proved to be the difference.

Kevin Troiano scored five consecutive points for Monument, one coming on a 3-pointer with time running out and the other off a Red Hawk turnover, as the eighth-seeded Hawks dropped a 70-54 decision to the top-seeded Spartans Saturday afternoon.

“I’m proud of the guys,” Frontier coach Ben Barshefsky said. “They had a good season.”

It was a season that came to an abrupt halt midway through the third quarter.

Troiano, who had not made a 3 all season, was alone on the left side of the court, almost in the stands. With time running down, Noah Helmke threw a pass to Troiano and he launched a shot as the shot clock ran out. The buzzer went off as the ball went through the hoop.

“That was absolutely huge for us,” said Troiano, who finished with 13 points and a team-high 9 rebounds. “We knew coming into the third quarter that we had to create separation because you don’t want them hanging around. As the senior captain, I knew it was probably going to fall on me.”

Then Troiano followed up with a steal and a score. What was a five-point lead became 10, and the Red Hawks were fading.

The five points proved to be critical because the Red Hawks’ Kalen Evans (six points) scored on consecutive hoops to start the third quarter, keeping Frontier (14-8) in contact. Barshefsky called a timeout to set up some strategy. The defensive strategy seemed to be working, as Monument burned most of the 30-second clock trying to get a shot. Instead, Troiano threw up the prayer that was answered.

With the win, the Spartans (18-3) reach Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst. When they get there Tuesday night, Monument will see a familiar foe in Wahconah. The fifth-seeded Warriors (14-8) beat No. 4 Narragansett Regional High School in a quarterfinal, and the two will play Tuesday night.

Monument led by as many as 12 points in the first half, taking a 20-8 lead on two Graham Herrick foul shots with 7:21 left in the second. Carsten Carey, who had a game-high 22 points, scored 10 in the second quarter to keep the Red Hawks close. In fact, Carey scored his team’s final seven points, as Frontier closed to 30-26 at halftime.

“Credit (Frontier). Tournament time, you can’t take anything for granted,” Monument coach Mike Saporito said. “Every team is here to win and every team is going to play as hard as they can to not make it their last game.”

Although the Red Hawks were able to cut Monument’s lead to as low as seven points, they got no closer. The Spartans forced 23 turnovers and had 16 steals. Troiano had his six while Tristan Alston chipped in with four.

“It was a product of their pressure,” Barshefsky said. “We struggled the entire night from a ball-security standpoint. To Monument’s credit, they were doing a great job of getting in the passing lanes. I thought we could have done a better job coming to the basketball.”

Ben Litskoski added 10 points for the Red Hawks and freshman Owen Morse was right behind with nine.