Wave no match for high-flying Wahconah in 57-29 loss

For The Recorder
Published: 2/27/2018 11:27:11 PM

DALTON — It is a time-honored basketball tradition that strong defense can ignite an offense. It’s also a tradition that a team can’t win a tournament title without winning its first game.

Both were on display at Wahconah Regional School Tuesday night, when the fifth-seeded Warriors routed No. 12 Greenfield 57-29, in a Western Massachusetts Division III Boys’ Basketball Tournament first-round game.

A two-point game after one quarter turned into a rout when the Warriors went on a 19-4 run to put the game away.

“Ultimately, the story of our season has been not enough offense,” Greenfield coach Tim Caplice said. “We grind out defensive plays but don’t finish them. We struggled on the boards all season long. Burris and [Tom] O’Connor, their length really helps them. They’re aggressive.

“Credit Wahconah. They stepped up and made shots. When we had the looks we didn’t knock them down.”

The Warriors (13-8) led 28-15 at halftime, and things got worse for the Green Wave (7-14) in the second half.

Green did cut a 15-point lead to 11 with 5:58 left in the third quarter. Wahconah responded by pitching a 14-0 shutout the rest of the quarter. When the smoke cleared, it was 44-19, and the only thing remaining in suspense was what the final score would be.

Burris and Huban combined to outscore the entire Greenfield squad. Burris had a game-high 16 points, adding 5 rebounds and 4 steals. Huban had 14 points and 5 rebounds. Wahconah outrebounded the Green Wave 40-19.

“It’s been a week” since the Warriors had played, Wahconah coach Dustin Belcher said. “Part of it is we were a little sluggish in terms of offense. I thought, overall, we showed a lot of maturity and grit tonight and stayed with it.”

Greenfield’s Hunter Campbell, who led the Green Wave with 9 points, scored back-to-back hoops to open the third quarter and cut the Wahconah lead to 30-19. A stop and a score would have put the game into single digits. The Warriors had other ideas.

Burris took it to the hoop for 2 with 5:40 left. A minute later, Tim Clayton got a steal and got the ball ahead to Huban, who scored off the fast break. That put the Warriors up 15 points. When the quarter ended, it was 44-19. The rest of the game was academic.

Wahconah had built its double-digit lead by outscoring Greenfield 19-8 in the second quarter and then 16-4 in the third.

“Our margin for error all year has been really slim,” Caplice said. “I think in the first few minutes, we did an excellent job boxing out and were defending as a team. Then we took a few plays off boxing out, they got the offensive rebounds, and that their momentum heading in the right direction.”

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