Schools: Athol win, plus some help, has Raiders on the postseason cusp

  • Athol’s Mark Ferrari, center, drives to the hoop for a layup between Greenfield defenders Mason Meadows, left, and Julius Brewington last week in Athol. Ferrari scored 25 points on Thursday to lift Athol past Mohawk, 80-55, and within one victory of the program’s first postseason berth since 2006. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff reports
Published: 2/13/2020 10:24:34 PM
Modified: 2/13/2020 10:24:23 PM

Dan Bevis sat in the bleachers inside Mallet Gymnasium listening to the final seconds of Frontier’s 46-45 win over Greenfield on the radio Thursday night.

The Athol High School boys basketball coach was certainly pleased with the result.

Just moments after his Red Raiders took care of business in an 80-55 win over Mohawk Trail in a Hampshire League North contest in Athol, the head coach could only wait out the waning moments of the Frontier-Greenfield game happening 30 minutes down Route 2 at Nichols Gymnasium. When it was over, Athol’s postseason fate officially landed back in its own hands.

The victory over the Warriors, coupled with a Greenfield loss, has the two teams tied for second place in the HL North standings at 4-3. If the Red Raiders win their final game Monday night against Smith Academy, or if Greenfield drops its finale to Mohawk the same night, Athol (8-11, 4-3) will qualify for the Western Mass. Division 3 tournament for the first time since 2006.

 “How everything’s gone the last four years, to be in this position... I don’t know that we saw that,” began Bevis of his team being on the cusp of a tournament berth. “Guys have put in a lot of work. People associated with our program have really stepped up and worked hard to put us in this position.”

Against the Warriors (2-17, 0-7) on Thursday night, Athol actually trailed 30-28 at halftime. The offense got going in the second half however, with the hosts putting up a whopping 30 points in the third quarter alone to regain control.

Mark Ferrari led all scorers with 25 points and 10 rebounds while Noah Pottinger also had a big night with 22 points, including 16 in the second half, to go with eight boards. Riley Paine followed with 15 points and Bryce King totaled six points, 10 assists and four steals.

“We talked at halftime, we just have to go out and play,” Bevis offered. “We’ve got to go take care of our business, we can’t worry about other games that are going on. Our defense really sparked our offense in the second half. We were able to put together a run, and a lot of it was from our defense.”

Anthony Moffatt’s 13 points paced Mohawk, while Tyler Dubreuil joined him in double figures with 10 points. Shawn Davenport, Austin Sumner and Reuben Bassett scored seven points apiece.

Athol now turns its attention to Smith Academy (5-14, 2-5), a team the Raiders handled 65-42 when they met in Hatfield back on Jan. 14.

“To control our fate, that’s where you want to be now,” Bevis said. “Now we have to go take care of business. It’s a good feeling but it’s all for naught if we don’t handle our business on Monday. I would expect Smith to come in ready to play. I think our guys will be ready to go.”

• In the JV game, Athol scored a 57-22 victory behind 14 points from Jet Castillo, 11 points from Connor Mahony and 10 points from Conal Tontodonato.

Mahar 58, Belchertown 34 — The tournament started for the Senators after they lost to Pioneer on Monday.

Mahar entered Thursday needing to win two of its final three games to get into the postseason, and the Sens got the job done on the road against Belchertown. The visitors dominated from the opening tip en route to a 58-34 Hampshire League South victory. 

“I’m so proud of the guys tonight,” Senators coach Chad Softic said. “Both (teams) needed to win to keep our tournament hopes alive and our kids responded with vigor tonight.” 

With leading scorer Charlie Barnes getting into foul trouble, Jake Tenney took over on the offensive end for Mahar (9-9, 3-4). The junior finished with 21 points, five assists and three steals in what was a much-needed performance. 

The Senators jumped out to a 16-8 lead after one and turned it into a 29-16 advantage at the half. Behind a dominating defensive effort, Belchertown (8-11, 3-4) wasn’t able to get back in the game. 

Cecelio Sanchez added 12 points and seven rebounds in the win, with Matt Lyesiuk knocking down a trio of 3’s. Jake Carron cleaned up on the glass, pulling down 10 rebounds. 

Mahar takes on Turners Falls on Monday, looking to clinch a spot in the postseason. A win in either of its final two games would earn the Senators a spot in the Division 3 tourney.

Hopkins 62, Pioneer 49 — The chances were there, but the shots weren’t falling for the Pioneer boys basketball team on Thursday night. As a result, the Panthers were officially eliminated from postseason contention following a 62-49 loss to Hopkins Academy in an HL South contest in Hadley.

“We wanted to go out and compete and we did that,” began Pioneer coach Scott Thayer. “We just had a hard time making shots. Shooting 25-percent for the game, that’s not conducive to winning, unfortunately.”

Hopkins (13-6, 6-2) led just 25-21 at halftime, but the Panthers were unable to climb back in the second half. Troy Emond paced the offense with 14 points, followed by Jayden Fox with 13 points and Jared Hubbard with 11.

Hopkins, which was led by Addison Phifer’s 13 points, clinched the HL South championship with the victory.

Pioneer (7-11, 2-5) needed to win its final three games to punch a tournament ticket.

“The last couple of weeks, I felt like we’ve turned the corner,” Thayer said. “If we had some of this earlier in the season, we probably wouldn’t have been in this predicament.”

The Panther close with games against Belchertown (Monday) and Greenfield (Wednesday).

Girls basketball

Taconic 77, Greenfield 44 — On the road against perhaps the best team in Western Massachusetts proved to be quite a challenge for the Greenfield girls basketball team on Thursday.

The Green Wave fell behind early and couldn’t keep up, as host Taconic rolled to a 77-44 independent victory in Pittsfield.

The Braves (16-1) led 27-7 after one quarter and 44-23 at halftime before pulling away in the second half.

Greenfield junior Katie Haselton led the charge with 23 points, 14 rebounds and five assists on the night. Racquel Provost tossed in eight points, Lillia Kachelmeyer followed with six and Amber Bergeron added four.

The Green Wave close out their regular season Tuesday against Mahar.

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