H.S. Notebook: Wrapping up the winter basketball season

  • Pioneer’s Quinn Grover, left, and Patrick Boyden of Frontier chase down a loose ball in the second half of the Panthers' 52-41 win on Feb. 23. The Panthers wound up with the best record on the boys side in Franklin County this winter. STAFF FILE PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 3/1/2021 4:51:23 PM
Modified: 3/1/2021 5:26:17 PM

The 2021 winter season has come to the close in the blink of an eye, and with the dust starting to settle, let’s take a quick look back on how this season, one like no other, played out.

With no postseason tournaments, there was no definitive champion, though Friday’s matchup between Pioneer and Mahar was a battle for the top boys record in the Franklin County League.

It was the second meeting between the two teams this season. The Senators took the first matchup, 55-52, when Matt Lyesiuk knocked down the go-ahead 3-pointer in the final 20 seconds of action back on Feb. 3.

A month later, both teams found themselves at 7-1, and it was the Panthers who avenged their lone loss of the season. Behind stingy defensive play in the fourth quarter, Pioneer earned a 47-37 win to lay its claim to the regular season title.

“Pioneer took the Mega Bowl,” Mahar coach Chad Softic said after the game. “It was an intense ending to a difficult season full of adversity but I know [Pioneer] Coach [Scott] Thayer and myself are proud of the kids for persevering.”

The loss dropped Mahar to third in the FCL Bubble standings at 7-2, with Hopkins Academy finishing with the second-best record of 7-1. The Golden Hawks’ lone loss came to the Panthers. Frontier was the other school to finish with a winning record, going 5-3 this winter.

Closing out the standings on the boys side in order was Turners Falls (4-6), Greenfield (3-5), Athol (3-5) Franklin Tech (1-8) and Mohawk Trail (0-7).

Greenfield girls go unbeaten

Without a Western Mass. title to compete for, the Greenfield girls basketball team set out to do the next best thing under the circumstances. The Green Wave set out to finish the season with an undefeated record, and they accomplished just that, going 8-0 on the winter.

The Green Wave played eight games in total, winning each game by double figures. They didn’t just win games; they won in dominating fashion, with an average margin of victory of 34 points.

The one team that was able to keep it close with Greenfield this season was Mahar, which compiled an impressive 8-1 record. The Senators’ lone loss came in the opening game of the season against the Green Wave, falling 61-47.

With so little time to prepare for the season, Mahar undoubtedly wishes it had another shot to try to knock off Greenfield and show the improvements it made as a team throughout the season.

It was another impressive season for Frontier, as the club went 6-2 to finish third in the girls standings. The Red Hawks’ lone losses came at the hands of the Green Wave and Senators.

You’d be hard pressed to find a team that closed its season on a higher note than Franklin Tech. The Eagles scheduled four games in four days to close out the season and came out victorious in each contest to finish the season with a 6-4 record.

Turners Falls finished at the .500 mark with a 4-4 record, followed by Mohawk Trail (2-4), Hopkins (2-6), Athol (1-7) and Pioneer (0-9) in the standings.

Haselton takes scoring crown

For the second straight season, Greenfield guard Katie Haselton led the Recorder area in scoring, averaging 20.8 points per game this winter. The numbers are nearly identical to the ones she had last winter where she averaged 20.7 per game over a 21-game season.

Haselton was steady all season long, scoring 20 points or more in five games and recording a season-high 26 points twice, the first in a 69-16 win over Athol and the second during a 72-24 win over Turners.

While Haselton was the main catalyst for the Green Wave’s success this season, she had plenty of help around her. Two other Greenfield players finished with a double-figure scoring average, as freshman Amber Bergeron put up 12.5 a game while Lillia Kachelmeyer dropped 12 points a game this winter.

The closest challenger to Haselton was Mahar’s Micalyn Mailloux, who averaged 18.9 per game. Mailloux had the single-game high on the girls side this season with 29 points against Hopkins on Feb. 25.

Sanders lights it up for Turners

Defenders in the Franklin County League Bubble had a hard time finding an answer to stop Turners Falls guard Marcus Sanders.

The senior finished the season averaging 21.2 per game, the best among Recorder area teams this winter. Sanders started the year off with 22-point games against both Mohawk Trail and Frontier, but truly found his scoring touch late in the season.

Taking on Franklin Tech, Sanders dropped an insane 38 points in the win — the highest single-game total by a Recorder area player in four years. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Sanders matched the total one week later in the season-finale against Frontier, scoring 38 points in a 60-51 loss.

Sanders held a large lead in the scoring department on the boys side this season, with Greenfield’s David Carey finishing second at 14.3 points per game.

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