Green Season: Inside the 2000 Greenfield basketball season, 20 years later — Part 4 (Suburban League powers)

  • Greenfield’s Deyvehn East drives to the basket during the Green Wave’s 102-58 Suburban League victory over Chicopee Comp on Jan. 27, 2000. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/10/2020 4:24:08 PM
Modified: 7/10/2020 4:23:57 PM

(NOTE: This is Part 4 of Green Season: Inside the 2000 Greenfield basketball season.)

Every season features its share of memorable moments and games. The 1999-2000 Greenfield High School boys’ basketball team certainly saw their share. We’ll get to some of the bigger games later in this series, but as the Green Wave began to get into the heart of their Suburban League run, one in particular stood out.

GAME 9 (Jan. 18, 2000): Greenfield 64, West Springfield 63

After a 2-0 start to the league slate thanks to wins over East Longmeadow and Ludlow, Greenfield returned home for what looked like a sure victory against West Springfield.

The Terriers limped into Nichols Gymnasium with just a 2-5 record overall, 0-2 in the Suburban League. With a game against powerhouse Minnechaug staring the Wave directly in the face three days later, this one had all the makings of a classic trap spot.

And for nearly 32 minutes, that’s exactly what happened.

Trailing 63-62 with just 3.4 seconds remaining, Greenfield had the ball under its own basket in a dire situation. A frustrating night ended in a positive manner however, as Deyvehn East tossed a pass to Luke Martin at midcourt. Martin hit point guard Tim Burns in stride, and the sophomore pulled up for an 18-footer that found the bottom of the net at the buzzer for the game-winning bucket. Final score: Greenfield 64, West Side 63.

Crisis averted.

“Burns’ shot sinks Terriers at the buzzer” read the headline in the Recorder the following morning. Head coach Scott Thayer was happy to get the win, but told the paper, “We just didn’t come to play and we allowed them to stay in the ballgame.”

Burns’ stock was rising, though he recalled being pushed considerably by Thayer — both in practice and during games.

“I remember we’d put the film on and you could always hear Scotty yelling, ‘Timmy, Timmy,’” Burns said with a laugh. “You have people in your life who push you and ride you. But I always took it from him as wanting me to be a better player. He’s really good at finding ways to challenge guys and that gets you in a certain mindset.”

GAME 10 (Jan. 21, 2000): Greenfield 79, Minnechaug 65

Greenfield’s narrow victory might have been just what the doctor ordered. They rebounded with a big win over a good Minnechaug team, knocking the Falcons from the ranks of the Suburban League unbeatens in the process, as East scored 20 points to lead the way. Aaron Clark and Billy Thomas went for 19 points apiece, and Martin made it four scorers in double figures with 15 points.

Balanced scoring was nice, but defense and intangibles were the key to Greenfield’s success, according to Thayer.

“As loose and as fun as we were as a team — we were kind of like an NBA team in some ways — when we came to play, they were ready to go,” the coach said. “The defense and the rebounding was way ahead of where we were offensively. We won a lot of games with intensity and just outworking people.”

Clark was the epitome of that mentality. Now the Associate Director for Sports Medicine in the athletic department at Boston College, Clark did more than his share of the dirty work on the interior during his days at GHS.

“I was kind of the guy that just hustled a lot, grabbed rebounds, distributed,” he recalled. “Basically I didn’t try and do too much. Just do the little things that helped us win games.”

Thayer agreed with his former player’s self-assessment.

“He didn’t have to do it with scoring,” began Thayer of Clark. “He was a good leader and he was intense, man. He had some size but wasn’t a real tall kid or anything. He just outworked you. He’d have a lot of games where he’d be our most important player on the floor and maybe scored four points, six points. The kind of guy you need to play winning basketball.”

GAME 11 (Jan. 27, 2000): Greenfield 102, Chicopee Comp 58
GAME 12 (Jan. 31, 2000): Greenfield 55, Sci-Tech 45
GAME 13 (Feb. 1, 2000): Greenfield 59, Putnam 37
GAME 14 (Feb. 4, 2000): Greenfield 74, Ludlow 48

The Green Wave rolled over the next few weeks, moving to 13-1 overall and 7-0 in the Suburban League following the victory over Ludlow on Feb. 4.

Perhaps most notably from that four-game run was the win over Chicopee Comp. Greenfield went over the century mark for the first time since 1988, and did so in exciting fashion. Senior Chad Wetterwald came off the bench and drilled a 3-pointer to get point No. 100, much to the delight of his teammates and the spectators in attendance.

“They were calling for me to set it up,” Wetterwald said afterward, referring to his teammates.

That victory clinched a postseason berth, and the thrashing was over a year in the making. The previous season, Comp won the SL with a 12-0 record, and beat Greenfield in two meetings by 14 and 24 points, respectively.

“We were trying to get a little revenge,” East, who scored 25 points, told the Recorder afterward. Paul Hirst had 14 points and Billy Finn added 10. “We wanted to prove we are the best team in the Suburban League.”

The slog through the difficult Suburban League slate was only going to get tougher. Greenfield had set the tone for the league the first time through the schedule, but teams weren’t going to take the Wave lightly the second time around.

Check back next week for Part 5 of this series.


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