Boys basketball: Smith Academy can’t stay with Pioneer in Class D quarterfinal loss (PHOTOS)

Smith Academy’s Cameron Graves (10) drives to the basket while defended by Pioneer’s Josh Wood (32) during the visiting Falcons’ loss in the PVIAC Class D Tournament on Monday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield.

Smith Academy’s Cameron Graves (10) drives to the basket while defended by Pioneer’s Josh Wood (32) during the visiting Falcons’ loss in the PVIAC Class D Tournament on Monday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Smith Academy’s Ryan McCoy (2) goes to the basket between a pair of Pioneer defenders during the PVIAC Class D Tournament on Monday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield.

Smith Academy’s Ryan McCoy (2) goes to the basket between a pair of Pioneer defenders during the PVIAC Class D Tournament on Monday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Smith Academy’s Cameron Graves (10) pulls up for a jumper over Pioneer’s Will Glazier (25) during the PVIAC Class D Tournament on Monday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield.

Smith Academy’s Cameron Graves (10) pulls up for a jumper over Pioneer’s Will Glazier (25) during the PVIAC Class D Tournament on Monday night at Messer Gymnasium in Northfield. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Staff Reports

Published: 02-19-2024 9:42 PM

NORTHFIELD — It was its play on the glass that gave the Pioneer boys basketball team an edge over Smith Academy on Monday in the quarterfinals of the Western Mass. Class D tournament. 

The second-seeded Panthers raced out to a 17-7 lead after one quarter before outscoring the Falcons 18-6 in the second quarter to take a 35-13 lead into the break. 

Pioneer didn’t allow No. 7 Smith Academy to get back in the game in the final 16 minutes of action, as Pioneer advanced to the semis with a 63-27 triumph at Messer Gymnasium. 

The Falcons (9-10) were at a height disadvantage and too often, the Panthers were able to get multiple shots each trip down the floor by winning on the offensive glass. 

“We played hard,” Smith Academy coach Matt Zerneri said. “It’s tough when you give them two or three opportunities each possession. If we clean up the boards in the first quarter it’s a tighter game and you don’t know how the rest of the game plays out. You could just see our spirit was crushed when we kept giving up opportunity after opportunity. We fought hard, we just didn’t have the size to keep them off the glass.” 

Leading 5-4 early, Brayden Thayer got inside for two, Josh Wood swished a corner 3-pointer and Kurt Redeker got in the paint for a bucket to give the Panthers a 12-4 lead early. 

Garrett Willard hit a 3 for Smith Academy but Hugh Cyhowski put back an offensive board and Alex McClelland knocked down a trey to give Pioneer a 17-7 lead after one. 

It was all Panthers in the second quarter. 

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Jackson Glazier hit a jumper just as the shot clock expired, Will Glazier made a basket while being fouled, Jackson Glazier made a 3 and Thayer made a pair from the charity stripe, giving Pioneer a 26-7 lead. 

Wood hit a 3 and got to the basket for two, Cyhowski made a jumper while Redeker got to the rim for basket to close out the half, giving the Panthers a 35-13 lead at the break.

Pioneer led 53-25 after three and outscored the Falcons 10-2 in the fourth quarter. 

“Pioneer hit shots when they were open,” Zerneri said. “They were able to clean up the glass when they didn’t and made it hard on us. Kudos to them. We have to regroup and get after it again on Thursday.” 

Zerneri said getting to play in the Western Mass. tournament against a team like Pioneer will be valuable experience for his squad moving forward. 

“It’s great experience,” Zerneri said. “We’re pretty young ourselves. You wish for a different outcome but it’s good to get up here, play on a bigger court and play a team who was in the state quarters last year. We knew it would be hard. It just didn’t work out for us.” 

Class D quarters

No. 3 Duggan 67, No. 6 Hopkins 54 — The Golden Hawks hung strong with the Jayhawks, but eventually fell by 13 to the No. 3 seed in Class D to bring their Western Mass. tournament run to a close.

Hopkins (5-14) does sit at No. 30 in the MIAA Division 5 state power rankings, so barring any drastic drop, it should still make the state tournament – meaning the Golden Hawks have more hoop still to play.

Duggan travels to Northfield to take on No. 2 Pioneer on Wednesday.

Class A quarters

No. 4 Holyoke 88, No. 5 Chicopee Comp 78 — A 31-point outburst from Shawn Rivera boosted the Purple Knights over the Colts and into the Class A semifinals in a high-scoring affair on Monday night.

Jordan King-Perilli and Jamil Rodriguez each scored 14 points apiece and Aden Cabrera tallied 13 for Holyoke in the win.

Comp’s Tineus McCluster poured in a game-high 34 points in the loss.

No. 1 Pope Francis 63, No. 8 Amherst 61 — A fantastic effort from the ‘Canes fell just short, as they return from their trip to Springfield with a heart breaking two-point loss to top-seeded Pope Francis.

Amherst (9-10) has one more game left to play this week before turning its attention to the Division 2 state tournament next week, as it is ranked No. 24 in the latest edition of the power rankings.

The Cardinals host No. 4 Holyoke on Wednesday in the Class A semifinals.

Class B quarters

No. 3 Pittsfield 73, No. 6 South Hadley 54 — The Tigers hung with the Generals in the second half, only losing the third and fourth quarters by a combined score of 34-32, but their first-half woes were too much to overcome on Monday night.

Jack Loughrey notched a team-high 22 points, Noah Hambley scored 12 points and Isiah James (nine) and Owen Dawson (seven) combined for 16 in the loss.

Pittsfield plays the winner of Tuesday’s matchup between No. 2 Taconic and No. 7 Sci-Tech in the Class B semifinals.

No. 1 Monument Mountain 105, No. 8 Belchertown 42 — The Spartans proved to be as good as advertised, and the undefeated juggernaut simply overwhelmed the Orioles in Monday night’s Class B quarterfinals.

Belchertown turned in its third-lowest point total of the season, and is now most likely out of the Division 4 state tournament with the loss.

Monument Mountain (19-0) continues its quest for a perfect season on Wednesday, as it hosts Berkshire County foe No. 4 Wahconah.

Non-playoff games

Boys basketball

St. Mary’s 70, Hampshire 39 — Sam Brigham’s 33 points led the Saints to a decisive win over the Raiders. Hampshire was led by Liam Pond and Kolton Kolodziej, who each tossed in eight points in the loss.

Braylong Jarrett and Jack Wresen added six apiece for the Raiders. Hampshire (9-10) needs one more win to qualify for the state tournament.