WMass D3 Boys Tournament: Charlie Barnes goes off as No. 10 Mahar eliminates South Hadley

  • Mahar Regional’s Charlie Barnes shoots in the paint against South Hadley’s Brady Marion during the Senators 55-38 win in the Western Mass. Division 3 first round, Tuesday in South Hadley.  FOR THE RECORDER/CADEY SPENCER

  • Mahar Regional’s Jake Tenney looks to make a pass against South Hadley during the Senators 55-38 win in the Western Mass. Division 3 first round, Tuesday in South Hadley.  FOR THE RECORDER/CADEY SPENCER

  • Mahar Regional’s Charlie Barnes drives into the lane against South Hadley  during the Senators 55-38 win in the Western Mass. Division 3 first round, Tuesday in South Hadley.  FOR THE RECORDER/CADEY SPENCER

Staff Writer
Published: 2/25/2020 10:03:01 PM
Modified: 2/25/2020 10:47:39 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — Charlie Barnes extended his role for the Mahar Regional School boys basketball team on Tuesday night.

Beyond his usual point guard role, the senior played the part of postseason assassin. Barnes scored 25 points and did it all for the Senators: defense, scoring in the paint, and shooting from deep, as 10th-seeded Mahar rolled past No. 7 South Hadley, 55-38, in the first round of the Western Mass. Division 3 Tournament.

“This was my first playoff win. Ever,” Barnes said. “I came in here knowing that I needed that confidence to help my team win. I did what I had to do. Everyone around me helped me.”

Mahar (11-10) advanced to play No. 2 Sabis (12-8) in the Div. 3 quarterfinals in Springfield on Friday at 7 p.m.

“Tonight looked like an old Mahar win,” offered Senators head coach Chad Softic. “Disciplined and nothing fancy. Making them work for everything. We can play with (Sabis). If we go there and play with confidence and do the things that we do well, I have no doubt we will have an opportunity to win in the fourth quarter.”

The Senators hadn’t won a playoff game since 2014, and had to fight until the final days of the regular season to qualify for the tournament.

“We had a lot of tough losses,” Softic said. “I thought the kids were grinding. We were playing desperation ball. It really refocused us.”

Barnes hit four 3-pointers for the Senators, motioning to the home crowd after his first in the opening quarter.

Mahar needed a big third quarter to extend its lead and keep the home crowd quiet, and Barnes delivered. He scored 10 points in the frame, signaling to the Mahar traveling fan section after each bucket.

It was more of the same in the fourth quarter.

A deep 3-pointer from Barnes extended the lead to 51-29 with 3 minutes, 38 seconds remaining.

No. 7 South Hadley (14-7) never could get going offensively against the Senators’ 2-3 zone.

“We couldn’t execute our offense,” South Hadley coach Mike O’Neill said. “That’s all we worked on for two days.”

Foul trouble for Hunter Carey did not help either.

“He’s a leader out there,” O’Neill said of Carey. “He takes the bull by the horn and creates the offense for us. He starts it.”

Nick Cirone, Carey and Brady Marion played their final games for the South Hadley basketball program.

Carey scored nine points for South Hadley. 

“They are a great class,” O’Neill said. “I’ve had them since they were freshmen here. Great players all-around. Helped the team to get to where we were. Helped the freshmen to get where they are.”

The Senators played without Zack Notre, who sat out with a foot injury.

Freshman Connor Sluder stepped in and gave the Senators quality minutes on the interior of the zone, adding three points and an emphatic block.

Mahar came out attacking the rim, building an early 9-2 lead. Matt Lyesiuk and Barnes hit 3-pointers during the first frame.

South Hadley’s offense started slowly but gained some traction behind the play of point guard Dylan Cottingham, who finished with nine points. 

Mahar opened the second quarter on a 7-0 run to extend the lead to 22-10. A 3-pointer by Kyle Harris ended the run for the Tigers, which followed with an 8-0 run of their own. Carey nailed a 3-pointer to make the score 22-18.

Sluder’s jumper from the foul line extended the Senators’ lead to 28-18. A Barnes’ floater and 3-pointer gave Mahar its biggest lead of the night at 34-24 in the third quarter, and he scored again later in the period in the paint to up the advantage to 38-24 with four minutes remaining. Another 3-pointer from Barnes made it a 41-26 game.

Cecilio Sanchez had eight points for Mahar, with Jakob Carron and Jake Tenney both adding seven.

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