Green Season: Inside the 2000 Greenfield basketball season, 20 years later — Part 7 (An emphatic title)

  • The 2000 Greenfield boys’ basketball team celebrates after beating Hoosac Valley to win the Western Mass. Division 2 championship at the Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst. STAFF FILE PHOTO

  • The 2000 Greenfield boys’ basketball team celebrates after beating Hoosac Valley to win the Western Mass. Division 2 championship at the Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/31/2020 5:11:11 PM
(NOTE: This is Part 7 of Green Season: Inside the 2000 Greenfield basketball season.)

There was a feeling of optimism surrounding practices for the 2000 Greenfield boys’ basketball team. The Green Wave had gotten over that semifinal hump, beating Mohawk in relatively comfortable fashion, and were playing in the Western Mass. Division 2 final for the first time since 1995.

This was the first trip to the title-tilt for the senior-laden roster, and first time Scott Thayer would be coaching in the championship game as a head coach. The third-year head man had plenty of championship experience as an assistant coach at Pioneer, but this was different.

“My time at Pioneer (as an assistant) was always great because Perry (Messer) would do his thing and all I had to do was show up and coach,” recalled Thayer, who is now back at Pioneer as the head coach. “But when you move one seat over, everything changes. You’re dealing with the logistical stuff, a lot of different factors start to float into your head. You can’t be off your game, especially in a championship. You don’t want to have those thoughts creeping in, ‘Why did I do this?’”

Greenfield had to wait five days between its semifinal win and the final. The Wave would take on Hoosac Valley, which defeated Southwick, 65-58, in the other semifinal at the Curry Hicks Cage.

There was no shortage of confidence heading into the final, at least from the players on the Green Wave.

“It’s our turn to bring a championship home to Greenfield,” senior Billy Thomas told the Recorder. “If we execute and play hard like we are capable of, the championship is ours.”

GAME 23 (March 11, 2000): Greenfield 76, Hoosac Valley 33 – Western Mass. Div. 2 championship

It turned out to be quite a day for Franklin County at the Cage.

The day started with the Frontier girls capturing the D3 title with a victory against Hopkins Academy, and Pioneer followed suit with a win over Granby in the D3 boys final. The nightcap was plenty anticipated, but the Green Wave didn’t keep the crowd in suspense for long.

Greenfield stormed out of the gates and led 29-18 at halftime against the sixth-seeded Hurricanes (15-9). The second half was anything but climactic, as the Wave outscored Hoosac by a 47-15 margin en route to a lopsided 76-33 win — one of the biggest routs in Western Mass. final history.

Chip Ainsworth’s game story in the Recorder, with the headline ‘Wave roll to title,’ told the tale of a decidedly one-sided final.

“A flat tire kept Hoosac Valley’s team bus from arriving on time for the school’s Western Mass. Div. 2 title tilt against Greenfield on Saturday, but the real blowout wouldn’t occur until later.”

Luke Martin was the game’s high scorer with 16 points. He also had seven rebounds and five blocks, stepping into the spotlight on the biggest stage.

“It was an amazing feeling,” recalled Martin of winning the title. “To do it at the Cage, to have the crowd there that we did … it felt like you had the whole town watching you.”

The well-balanced score sheet also listed 14 points by Thomas and Deyvehn East and 10 by Tim Burns.

“It was anticlimactic,” Burns, a sophomore point guard on the 2000 team, recalled of the final. “You picture this epic back and forth battle, which is what happened my junior year against South Hadley. That’s the type of game you play in your mind when you think about a championship. So then you go and blow Hoosac out, waltz through that game, it’s a little weird. But the good thing was we could almost immediately turn our attention to the state semifinals. We beat Hoosac but now we have to turn around and keep our foot on the pedal.”

Junior Aaron Clark said that once Greenfield got off to a big lead, he knew it was in the bag.

“Playing Mohawk in the semis was one of our hardest tests because they knew what we did well and they knew what they had to do to try and stop us,” Clark said. “Hoosac, the first five minutes we went on a big run and after that, we saw they were deflated and I think we knew the game was over.”

One person not particularly thrilled with the final score was Hoosac head coach Bill Robinson. The veteran mentor didn’t think his Hurricanes belonged in Division 2, and the final score provided further fuel for that argument, in his eyes.

“Two years ago (in the 1998 finals) we lost by 36 points to Northampton and I was told it was the worst night in tourney history,” Robinson told the Recorder after the game. “I guess that’s what happens when a top seed plays a school with an enrollment that’s three dropouts away from playing in Division 3.”

Everyone got into the game for Greenfield, including fan favorite Chad Wetterland. The senior hopped onto the floor at the Cage, hit a basket and made a pair of free throws to finish the final with four points.

“He’s got great skills and big feet. Maybe he’ll grow into an NBA player,” Thayer said afterward.

The postgame celebration saw the Wave head back to town in style.

“It was great,” Clark said. “The locker room was enthusiastic. I remember Scotty jumping around having the time of his life. We had a police escort back to town, big party at the cafeteria. We were finally able to fulfill that championship that some of the other teams before us had done. To be able to put ourselves in the conversation with those teams, that was special.”

While Martin still has those memories from the game and experience of playing in a Western Mass. final, he also has a physical reminder from that night. Just before halftime, he went up for a dunk and landed on the head of a Hoosac Valley player. The collision jarred his front tooth, and when he went into the locker room for intermission, he said his tooth was swinging loose.

“I don’t know if I hid it from Scotty or showed him, but I wasn’t going to miss the second half,” he said.

Martin still has a battle wound from that collision on the parquet floor of the Cage.

“My tooth is noticeably knocked back from that still,” Martin said. “I celebrated for a bit right after the game but then I had to rush to an emergency dentist appointment.”

It was a weekend to celebrate, but there were still bigger fish to fry. A Western Mass. title was in the books, but Greenfield was just two more wins away from doing something no team in program history had ever done before: win a state title.

Check back next week for Part 8 of this series, “State run.”

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