NEPSAC Boys Hoop: NMH punches Class AAA semifinal ticket with win over Hoosac School

  • Northfield Mount Hermon’s Gus Larson slams a breakaway dunk against Hoosac in the second half Wednesday night at Forslund Gymnasium in Gill. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Northfield Mount Hermon’s Rowan Brumbaugh (2) lays in a shot over Hoosac’s Novak Perovic (24) in the second half Wednesday night at Forslund Gymnasium in Gill. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Northfield Mount Hermon’s Avery Brown winds back for a breakaway layup against Hoosac in the second half Wednesday night at Forslund Gymnasium in Gill. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Northfield Mount Hermon’s Prince Moses (34) puts in an alley-oop over Hoosac defender Milos Ilic (35) in the second half Wednesday night at Forslund Gymnasium in Gill. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Northfield Mount Hermon’s Gus Larson stretches to put down a breakaway dunk against Hoosac in the second half Wednesday night at Forslund Gymnasium in Gill. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Northfield Mount Hermon’s Darius Ervin (1) drives to the hoop to put in a layup past Hoosac’s Novak Perovic (24) in the second half Wednesday night at Forslund Gymnasium in Gill. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Northfield Mount Hermon’s Zach Taylor (3) puts in a layup past Hoosac defender Vukasin Masic (25) in the second half Wednesday night at Forslund Gymnasium in Gill. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Northfield Mount Hermon’s Prince Moses hits a three-pointer against Hoosac in the second half Wednesday night at Forslund Gymnasium in Gill. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 3/4/2020 10:20:17 PM
Modified: 3/4/2020 10:20:07 PM

GILL — The two-time defending New England champions weren’t ready to see their streak come to an end on their home court, Wednesday night.

Taking on No. 6 Hoosac School, the No. 3 Northfield Mount Hermon boys basketball team ​​​​​knew they wanted to wear down the Owls as the game progressed. The plan came to fruition midway through the second half, as NMH went on a 17-4 run to take control of the game en route to a 90-79 victory in the quarterfinal round of the NEPSAC Class AAA Tournament.

The Hoggers (28-7) now take to the road to meet No. 2 New Hampton in the Class AAA semifinals on Saturday.

“The way we play is to fatigue the teams we play with eight minutes left in the game,” NMH head coach John Carroll said. “At the 10-minute mark, you could see they started to drag. Our whole play is to play up-tempo. The fact we scored 91 points is great. The fact they scored 79 points is OK. It’s about tempo early and all the way through until we see their legs start to drop.”

The 17-4 run saw the Hoggers go from trailing 66-63 to leading 80-70 with just over five minutes to play.

From that point on, NMH never let Hoosac (6-22) get back within striking distance. The hosts played tough, physical defense to not allow any good looks at the rim.

“They’re a 3-point shooting team,” Carroll said of Hoosac. “We wanted to fatigue them and take their legs. I was a 3-point shooter, I know late in the game my legs might start to go a little bit. Their best players were playing the whole game and we wanted to fatigue them.”

Point guard Darius Ervin led the Hoggers with 23 points, five assists and two rebounds. Big-man Prince Moses scored 17 points, including a pair of emphatic dunks early, to go along with seven rebounds, while Avery Brown also had 17 points. Zach Taylor had a great all-around game for NMH, scoring 11 points, grabbing four rebounds and dishing three assists.

Ervin took the game over late, being both a scorer and distributor when his team needed it most. Wearing No. 1 for the Hoggers is an honor, and Ervin is living up to it.

“The number one for us is our culture carrier,” Carroll said. “He wears that for us. He keeps our tempo, he makes calls on the floor. He is the cliche of being a coach on the floor.”

NMH roared out to a 9-0 lead early, with buckets from Ervin, two dunks from Moses and a 3-pointer from Taylor. 

The Owls slowly fought their way back, using a 14-2 run late in the half to cut the Hoggers lead to 45-41 at the break.

Both teams traded hoops to start the half, with Brown scoring seven of his 17 points in the first eight minutes of the second frame.

Luca Lukacevic was another NMH player who provided a spark.

The senior from Germany didn’t play in the first half, but came in for the final 20 minutes of action to score four points and snag six boards. He also did a great job in the post defending the Hoosac bigs, who were getting good looks at the rim throughout the first half.

“The guys that came off the bench, especially Luca Lukacevic, did a great job defensively and made an impact on the game,” Carroll said. “Luca was the freshest guy on the court. I think we used our bench well and I think our bench performed very well.”

Playing New Hampton on the road in the semifinals should be a challenge for the Hoggers. The teams have played twice this season, both holding serve on their respective home courts. 

Carroll believes if his team plays their style of basketball, they’ll be looking at playing for a third consecutive New England championship come Sunday. The title games are set to be played at Western New England University on Sunday, with the Class AAA final scheduled for a 5 p.m. tip.

“We have to play our basketball,” Carroll said. “Hoosac was playing their basketball more in the first half than we were. In the second half, we were playing our basketball than they were. Our execution when we really needed it came through. Battling under the boards came through. If we do that on Saturday, we can get a win.” 


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