Turners Falls spoils ‘Senior Night’ for Red Raiders girls

  • CUTTING IN — Athol’s Geca Baptista cuts to the hoop during Thursday night’s game against the Turners Falls Indians in Athol. Athol Daily News/Mike Phillips

  • GOING HARD AT THE HOOP — Athol’s Taylor Cleveland goes at the hoop hard during Thursday night’s game against the Turners Falls Indians in Athol. Athol Daily News/Mike Phillips

Athol Daily News
Friday, February 16, 2018

ATHOL — The Athol Red Raiders looked confused with their minds somewhere else for a large portion of Thursday’s game. Yet they made a late charge and were right back in the thick of things with four minutes to go, down by five points. But Turners Falls would have nothing to do with a late comeback, outscoring the Red Raiders 14-4 down the stretch, defeating Athol 59-44 on Thursday night.

The game was the last home game of the season and “Senior Night” for the Red Raiders.

“I’m disappointed for the seniors,” said Athol coach Kelly Kaczmarczyk. “We came within five. We were close, we just couldn’t pull it out in the end.”

The team will graduate three seniors in Amber Mahony, Destiny Wrigley and Payton Parker.

Wrigley scored a team-high 20 points in her last game at Mallet Gymnasium. It was the third time this season she had scored at least 20 points.

“She’s coming along,” said Kaczmarczyk. “She’s been doing everything we ask of her in practice. She’s hustling.”

Down 37-29 to start the 4th quarter, Wrigley, Mahony and Haley Bigwood all connected from beyond the arc to move within six at 44-38. After Loynd connected on only of two free throws, Cleveland netted a two footer to bring the game within five at 45-40.

With a 45-40 lead and the Red Raiders hustling to get back into the game with three minutes and 56 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Turners’ Chloe Ellis netted a pair of free throws to move their lead to seven. Her two shots ignited an 8-0 run to move Turners Falls up by 13 points thanks to a jumper and a pair of free throws from Abby Loynd and two more free throws by Aliyah Sanders.

Wrigley ended the drought with a three from the right side to move the deficit back to 10 points at 53-43, but Turners’ Madison Chmyzinski took things into her own hands and scored six straight points for Turners Falls to move their lead to 16 with 14 seconds left. Athol’s Taylor Cleveland hit a free throw to make the final score 59-44.

“I thought they were going to have a good comeback,” said Kaczmarczyk. “But we couldn’t keep it. I’m proud of the seniors for how hard they worked tonight.”

Athol trailed 25-16 at halftime. They started off slow and just weren’t clicking. According to Kaczmarczyk, the Red Raiders could not hear point guard Geca Baptista calling plays, which led to a lot of slow movement and confused looks out on the court. It also led to only eight points in each of the first two quarters.

“The girls were just saying that they couldn’t here Geca,” said Kaczmarczyk. “So I started yelling after Geca was just to make sure they could hear it.”

After Turners Falls jumped out into the second half with a 5-0 run to move their lead to 30-16, Athol created a 6-2 run to move back to within 10 at 32-22 with three minutes and 42 seconds left in the third quarter.

Down 37-22, the Red Raiders capitalized on a layup by Bigwood, five points from Wrigley to move things to within eight at 37-29 at the end of the third quarter.

Bigwood contributed eight points and eight rebounds throughout the game. Cleveland contributed nine points, seven in the second half. Parker contributed two points and six rebounds.

For Turners Falls, Chmyzinski led the team with 29 points. Dabney Rollins contributed 13 points, while Loynd contributed 11 points.

The Red Raiders will have one last game on Tuesday on the road against the Greenfield Green Wave at 7 p.m. The Green Wave are ranked third in Western Mass. and are 17-1 on the season.

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