Mahar moves past Pioneer Valley, 47-34
ORANGE — After losing two of their last three games, the Mahar boys’ basketball team got back on track with a 47-34 win on Friday night over the Pioneer Valley Panthers.
The Senators improved to 7-2 with the win while the Panthers fell to 6-3.
Sam Paul led Mahar with 14 points while Matt Jenks contributed 11 points and nine rebounds and Quinn Gervais contributed 10 points and nine rebounds.
“This was a big game,” said Mahar coach Chad Softic. “Good Rivalries. They’re well coached, they’ve got a good team, so we needed this one tonight after what’s been happening to us over the last week or so.”
Jenks scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter. Up 38-27, Jenks made four baskets and three free throws in a row to keep pace with the Panthers within the final five minutes of the game.
“We talked about playing fast, he finally was able to kind of slow himself down a little bit, compose himself,” said Softic. “He can have those quarters and he certainly did it tonight. He just did a great job for us in that fourth quarter.”
Jenks also picked up a key charge within the final five minutes for Mahar as well.
“We needed that,” said Softic. “They had a little bit of the momentum and he picked that up for us.”
Up by only four points, Gervais completed a layup and Paul connected on a one-handed shot within the final minute of the third quarter to move it to 30-22 Mahar at the end of the quarter. Mahar then outscored Pioneer Valley 5-0 to begin the fourth quarter to go up by 15 at 37-22 with six minutes left in the game. The Senators outscored Pioneer Valley 11-0 during that span.
“They got us playing a little fast but it was nice to see us compose ourselves and finish the third quarter into the fourth,” said Softic.
The Senators outscored Pioneer Valley 8-3 in the third quarter. Up 12-6, Deven Patch gathered in the rebound and completed the basket followed by a two-foot jumper by Paul to move their lead to 10 at 16-6. Pioneer’s Mike Menard connected on a three but Gervais responded by completing two free throws and a layup to make it 20-9 Senators at half.
“We were really working on our transition basketball and we got some easy baskets to start the game and I thought, honestly, we were going to run them off the floor and then turnovers crept in,” said Softic.
Pioneer used those turnovers to create a 12-6 run to begin the third quarter. The two teams traded points until it was 26-15 Mahar. Menard then hit an open three to move it to 26-18. Karl Wheeler completed a free throw and a three to move it to 26-22 before Mahar made it 30-22 going into the fourth.
“To hold Pioneer to nine points in the first half is pretty impressive, but we knew they were going to make the necessary adjustments and we had to too,” said Softic. “We had to go back to the zone a little bit and then we went back to man again but we made the adjustments we needed to make.”
Mahar went up 9-0 to begin the game before Pioneer battled back with a 6-0 run. Paul hit a three with one minute and 41 seconds left in the first quarter to move it to 12-6 Mahar.
Mahar was able to hold Menard, Pioneer’s leading scorer, to only six points and two baskets from beyond the arc. Menard averaged 14.8 points per game prior to the contest and totaled 104 points on the year. It was the least amount of points Menard had scored in a game this season.
“Obviously the game plan is awareness on him,” said Softic. “He’s their best shooter. He doesn’t put the ball on the floor real well so we wanted to make sure we closed out on him real well. He hit the two threes and Sam Paul did a great job on him, but it’s really just team recognition of what he can do to really hurt you and we really did keep him in check.”
The Senators will travel to face the top-seeded Hopkins Academy on Wednesday in Hampshire South conference action.