Mark your calendar for these games

  • Raegan Hickey and Greenfield have a challenging schedule this winter, highlighted with independent games against the likes of South Hadley and Groton-Dunstable. FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 12/6/2018 11:18:48 PM

It’s officially winter sports season.

Thursday began what will be a three-plus month odyssey through the courts, rinks, slopes and pools of Franklin County. There’s plenty of entertainment ahead, as several local teams have their eyes on extending their seasons deep into March.

The schedule is loaded with exciting matchups, some as early as this week and weekend. With a full season’s worth of games to sort through, we picked out a few to highlight as must-see events. Here’s a few of the ones that jump off the page.

Boys basketball

Dec. 8 — Pioneer vs. Mahar, Pioneer Valley Tip-Off, Curry Hicks Cage at UMass, 11 a.m.

Talk about an early-season treat.

Two of the traditional powerhouses on the boys’ side meet in a unique setting, as Pioneer and Mahar tangle in a Hampshire League South contest as part of the Pioneer Valley Tip-Off. The game kicks off a busy Saturday at the Cage, with six contests in total throughout the day. The three-day event, which begins tonight with the Mahar girls playing Hampshire at 6, features 12 games in total.

Defending WMass Div. 4 champion Pioneer returns to the spot where it won two thrilling games in last year’s postseason. The Panthers beat Drury at the buzzer in the semifinals, and followed that with an upset victory over Hopkins in the title game.

It’ll be the season-opener for a new-look Mahar team that graduated seven seniors and turns to a host of newcomers. It’s a measuring-stick game for coach Chad Softic’s bunch.

Jan. 16 — Hopkins at Greenfield, 7:30 p.m.

New Greenfield head coach Angelo Thomas faces his former team for the first time on Jan. 16, when Hopkins Academy comes to Nichols Gymnasium for the teams’ lone meeting.

Thomas, who won three WMass championships during his five-year stint with Hopkins, went 97-19 with the Golden Hawks before deciding to return to his alma mater as the head coach this season. Hopkins replaced Thomas with former UMass assistant coach Adam Ginsburg, who was on the staff at Iona last year before returning to the Pioneer Valley.

Girls basketball

Dec. 28 — Greenfield vs. South Hadley, Hoosac Valley Holiday Tourney in Cheshire, 6 p.m.

It’s a season with sizable expectations for the Green Wave, and the schedule includes some challenging contests along the way.

Greenfield returns to play in the Hoosac Valley Holiday Tournament a few days after Christmas. The four-team tournament is loaded, and should present some interesting challenges for head coach John Hickey’s veteran club.

The event begins with a game against South Hadley, who like Greenfield was a Div. 3 semifinalist a year ago. In the nightcap, perennial power and tournament host Hoosac tangles with Div. 1 South sectional foe Whitman-Hanson. The winners of the two games meet Saturday for the tournament title while the losers also meet in the third-place game. Regardless of outcomes, it’ll provide a nice early-season test for the Wave.

Feb. 1 — Greenfield at Groton-Dunstable, 7 p.m.

Another lengthy road trip takes the Wave to central Mass. late in the season on Feb. 1.

Greenfield heads to play an independent game against Groton-Dunstable, which was the No. 1 seed in the CMass Div. 2 Tournament last year before falling in the semifinals to eventual sectional champion and Div. 2 state runner-up Hopkinton. It’s one of several challenging independent tilts, as the Wave also play Div. 1 West Springfield in December in addition to the holiday tourney in Cheshire.


Dec. 29 — Easthampton at Greenfield, 6:30 p.m.

There’ll be a bit of revenge on the minds of the Greenfield hockey players on Dec. 29.

The Green Wave welcome Easthampton to Collins-Moylan Arena for a holiday tilt that serves as a rematch of last yseason’s WMass Div. 3A semifinal. The Eagles prevailed in that contest, 3-2, and eventually won the sectional title game with a win over Belchertown.

The Dec. 29 game is the first of two meetings between the Wright Division foes, as they’ll meet again at Williston Northampton Academy’s Lossone Rink on Feb. 6.


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