MIAA girls basketball: Maynard holds off charging Pioneer 42-41 in Division 5 Round of 16

Pioneer’s Addie Harrington goes up for a layup against Hoosac Valley in the Western Mass. Class D finals this season.

Pioneer’s Addie Harrington goes up for a layup against Hoosac Valley in the Western Mass. Class D finals this season. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

By THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer

Published: 03-04-2024 8:36 PM

MAYNARD — The Pioneer girls basketball team seemed to have a counter for every punch Maynard threw on Monday in the MIAA Division 5 Round of 16. 

The seventh-seeded Tigers led 33-27 going into the fourth quarter, and while they held a lead throughout the frame, the No. 10 Panthers had an answer every time Maynard looked like it was going to begin to pull away. 

Addie Harrington swished a 3-pointer and got a basket in transition to cut the lead to 35-32. The Tigers countered with a quick three points but Pioneer’s Hailey Ring converted an and-one to make it a 38-35 game. 

Nina Chiodo scored for Maynard but Leah Potter drained a corner 3 for the Panthers that cut the lead to 40-38 with 2:45 to go. Chiodo scored again with 58 seconds left but Harrington knocked down a 3 on the other end that cut the deficit to 42-41 with 48 seconds remaining. 

With 15 seconds left, Harrington blocked a shot, corralled the rebound and raced the ball up court. Pioneer swung it around to Kyler McClelland, its best shooter, but her shot with six seconds to go went in-and-out. Maynard corralled the rebound, and with only two team fouls, the Panthers were unable to get a steal or send the Tigers to the line. Maynard managed to run out the clock and advance to the quarterfinals via the 42-41 victory. 

“I’m so proud of all the girls,” Pioneer coach Kevin Harrington said. “I told them at the end ‘let’s have a shot to win the game.’ We got the ball to the best shooter on our team and she had a great look. Sometimes they go in and sometimes they don’t. We did all the things we should have done to give ourselves a chance to win.”

Harrington noted how well the Panthers (16-6) played on the defensive end of the court to put themselves in a position to pull off the upset. 

“We kept saying we’d win the game on the defensive end of the floor and on the glass,” Harrington added. “We fought and gave ourselves an opportunity. We needed some more shots to fall obviously but to hold a team like [Maynard] to 42 is a great accomplishment. I’m so proud of these girls. What a run this season has been. I’m sad to see it come to an end.” 

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McClelland got Pioneer going early with a 3-pointer. Addie Harrington and Natalie Rios added baskets before the quarter came to a close, but a 6-0 Maynard run late in the frame gave the Tigers an 11-7 edge after eight minutes. 

It looked like Maynard (11-11) was going to pull away early in the second quarter. 

Nevaeh Duplessis and Shannon Kelly drained 3s before Ryleigh Raschi and Kelly knocked down mid-range jumpers to give the Tigers a 21-7 lead. 

McClelland gave the Panthers their first points of the quarter with a trey with four minutes to go in the half. 

Pioneer then found success attacking the middle of the Maynard zone. Ring got fouled and made one, then knocked down back-to-back jumpers from the free throw line. When the defense sucked in on her, she then found McClelland for a 3 to cut the lead to 23-18.

Megan Silkes made a layup for the Tigers to go ahead 25-18 at intermission. 

“It was some shock and awe at the beginning, plus the hour and a half bus ride,” Kevin Harrington said. “We came out a little flat. We’re a shooting basketball team. Working the ball inside and out with Hailey Ring was killer. That made a difference. Then we started knocking shots down and next thing you know, we’re playing a little bit of basketball.” 

The Panthers dialed in on the defensive end in the third quarter, holding Maynard to just eight points. 

Rios kicked it off with a basket for Pioneer before McClelland drained another 3 that cut the lead to 25-23. 

Ring made four free throws in the frame but Kathryn Stachowicz put back a rebound just before the buzzer sounded to give Maynard a 33-27 lead going into the fourth. 

McClelland scored 12 points on four 3s, Ring tallied 12 points, Harrington scored 10 points, Rios had four points while Potter recorded three points in the loss. Chiodo led the Tigers with 13 points. 

There’s no indication Monday’s loss will be the last of this Panther group. After reaching the Western Mass. Class D finals and making it to the state Round of 16, Pioneer will bring back everyone but Ring and Fota N’Diaye, with the young group growing immensely throughout the season. 

“To come in here and be in the top 16 is amazing,” Kevin Harrington said. “You have small goals throughout the year. Making states was one. Making a Western Mass. final was another. We have eight girls. Four are freshmen and one is a seventh grader. Our seniors — Fota and Hailey — played as hard as they could and laid it out there.”