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Hoosac tops Panthers in OT

  • Pioneer's Garrett Cote (13) sinks a three pointer under pressure from Hoosac defender Josh Parees (11) in the second half Thursday night in Northfield, Dec. 6, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Pioneer's Garrett Cote (13) pulls up for a jumper before being fouled by Hoosac's Justin Meczywor (10) in the fourth quarter Thursday night in Northfield. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Pioneer's Garrett Cote (13) breaks away down the court against Hoosac in the fourth quarter Thursday night in Northfield, Dec. 6, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Pioneer's Troy Emond (3) drives the ball down the court in the third quarter against Hoosac Thursday night in Northfield, Dec. 6, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Pioneer's Troy Emond (3) goes in for a breakaway layup past Hoosac defender John Krol (20) in the second quarter Thursday night in Northfield, Dec. 6, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Pioneer's Jacob Fuller (12) drive the ball defended by Hoosac's Josh Parees (11). Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Pioneer's Jayden Fox (10) breaks away for a layup past Hoosac defender Casey Meczywor (24) in the fourth quarter Thursday night in Northfield, Dec. 6, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Pioneer head coach Scott Thayer talks to his team during the fourth quarter of Thursday’s, 77-67 overtime loss to Hoosac at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield. Staff Photo/Dan Little



Staff Writer
Thursday, December 06, 2018

NORTHFIELD — For 32 minutes and change in Thursday night’s season-opener, Garrett Cote lit up visiting Hoosac Valley for 30 points and had his eyes on a triple-double. His Pioneer Valley Regional School team, playing catch-up all night, nearly stole the game at the end of regulation but settled for new life in overtime.

With Cote running the show, the Panthers looked very capable of eking out a victory in OT.

But the senior point guard never got the chance.

Just 19 seconds into overtime, Cote was whistled for a flagrant foul and ejected from the opener with the score 65-65 after an altercation away from the ball with Hoosac’s Justin Meczywor.  Losing Cote proved to be a death blow, as the visiting Hurricanes outscored Pioneer 12-2 the rest of the way to capture a wild 77-67 victory in an independent boys basketball game at Messer Gymnasium.

“Obviously, that’s tough losing him there in that spot,” admitted Pioneer coach Scott Thayer of the Cote ejection. “Not having him out there (in overtime), that changes a lot of things for us. But we had a lot of different guys step in and get forced to do things they haven’t had to do before. Down the road, I’m hoping that will pay off.”

Cote finished with 11 assists and eight rebounds to go with his game-high 30 points. He was 13 of 15 from the free throw line and hit five 3-pointers. But without him in OT, the Panthers (0-1) struggled to find an offensive flow.

“It shows you how good of a player he is and how big of a difference he is for them,” offered Hoosac coach David Harte of Cote. “He picked us apart for a lot of the game. What he really did a nice job of was picking his spots against us. He’d pull up and shoot, he’d drive to the hoop and he’d dump it down to teammates. We see some guards like him (in the Berkshires), but maybe not any who are as complete as him. He’s tough to handle.”

Hoosac (1-0) led 62-55 with 3:31 remaining in the fourth quarter. But Cote and the Panthers charged back, with his runner in the lane getting things started. On the next trip down the floor he found Zack Fox for an easy layup. Liam Bradley-Curtis added a free throw with 2:07 left, and Pioneer was right back in it down 62-60.

Trailing 64-60 after a pair of Hoosac free throws, Jared Hubbard drilled one of his two 3s from the corner on the night with 1:30 to go. That set up a frenetic play on the other end, where Pioneer forced a turnover and got out in transition. On the ensuing fast break, Cote spotted a cutting Jayden Fox, and his layup gave the Panthers a 65-64 advantage — their first lead since early in the second quarter — with just 48 seconds remaining.

Hoosac got fouled on the other end and Izaha Stubbs sank one of two from the stripe to pull the visitors even at 65. Pioneer had one final shot at the end of regulation. With two seconds to play and the ball out of bounds on the side, Cote found Jayden Fox, but his off-balanced attempt with two defenders draped to him fell short and the teams headed to overtime.

“Maybe in retrospect I’d diagram something else and try and get Garrett the ball there but I knew they’d be keying on him,” Thayer said of the final play of regulation. “We had the play there, we just didn’t execute.”

Hoosac took control in the extra session after Cote exited. Troy Emond actually put Pioneer back up, 67-66, with his runner in the lane with 2:45 to play, but those would be the only points for the hosts in the OT. The Hurricanes took the lead for good on a Stubbs 3-pointer with 2:06 remaining, and Hoosac closed on an 11-0 run to claim the opener.

“I thought my guys showed a lot of character and didn’t give up,” Harte said. “We let (Pioneer) hang around and they got back into the game. But we hung on and we’ll take the win.”

Thayer said that while crunch time wasn’t kind to his club, that ultimately wasn’t the difference in the game in his mind.

“It wasn’t a last-second shot or play that was the reason we lost, that second quarter killed us and that’s what I told the kids,” the third-year coach offered.

Indeed, Hoosac outscored the Panthers by a 26-13 margin in the second quarter, turning a 14-12 deficit after one frame into a 38-27 halftime advantage. Pioneer committed 16 of its 27 turnovers in the first half.

Still, the Panthers came out of the locker room strong and worked their way back into the game with Cote scoring 10 points in the third quarter to get his team within 48-46 entering the fourth.

“I told the guys in the locker room that the first three minutes of the third quarter were going to be very important,” began Harte. “And we let them chip away and get back in it and that obviously changed what kind of game it was going to be in the second half.”

Hoosac, which dealt with foul trouble throughout the second half, had four players finish in double figures led by Casey Meczywor’s 15 points. Stubbs and Joe Delmolino each had 14. The Hurricanes held a 35-27 edge in rebounds.

Zack Fox had a nice game for Pioneer, as the senior center nearly posted a double-double with 16 points and eight boards. Hubbard added 6 points while Jayden Fox tossed in 5 points.

The defending WMass Div. 4 champion Panthers are right back in action Saturday morning, when they travel to the Curry Hicks Cage on the campus of UMass to participate in the Pioneer Valley Tip-Off Classic. Pioneer will meet Hampshire League South foe Mahar Regional School at 11 a.m. in the first of six games at the Cage on Saturday.

Hoosac Valley 77, Pioneer 67, OT

Hoosac (77)

Larabee 2-1—6, Parees 4-2—10, Delmolino 5-2—14, Stubbs 2-8—14, Car. Meczywor 5-1—13, Krol 2-0—5, Cas. Meczywor 2-9—15. Totals 22-23—77.

Pioneer (67)

Fuller 1-0—2, Z. Fox 7-2—16, Cote 6-13—30, Hubbard 2-0—6, Emond 2-0—4, Underwood 1-1—3, J. Fox 2-1—5, Bradley-Curtis 0-1—1, Potter, Dobosz, Kane. Totals: 21-18—67.

3-Point Goals: (H) Larabee, Delmolino 2, Stubbs 2, Car. Meczywor 2, Krol, Cas. Meczywor 2. (P) Cote 5, Hubbard 2.

Score by quarters:

Hoosac

12

26

10

17

12—

77

Pioneer

14

13

19

19

2—

67