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Division 1 boys basketball; Late mistakes hurt as Amherst falls to Central seconds away from title

  • Meikkel Murray, right, of Amherst Regional, shoots against Thomas Perry, of Central, during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 championship Friday at Curry Hicks Cage. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Seth Bella-Hunter, of Amherst Regional, reaches for a rebound against Central during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 championship Friday at Curry Hicks Cage. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Will Budington, left, of Amherst Regional, moves the ball against Maickel De Jesus Garcia, of Central, during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 championship Friday at Curry Hicks Cage. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tajahn Joyner, center, of Amherst Regional, shoots against Central defenders Jorge Torres Vizcarrondo, left, and Raekwon Hubbard during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 championship Friday at Curry Hicks Cage. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Amherst Regional fans try to affect the outcome of a Central free throw during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 championship Friday at Curry Hicks Cage. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Seth Bella-Hunter, left, of Amherst Regional, shoots against Jashidi Pressley, of Central, during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 championship Friday at Curry Hicks Cage. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Amherst Regional students cheer for their team during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 championship Friday at Curry Hicks Cage. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tajahn Joyner, center, of Amherst Regional, passes against Central defenders Ahmad Conner, left, and Jorge Torres Vizcarrondo during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 championship Friday at Curry Hicks Cage. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Meikkel Murray, right, of Amherst Regional, shoots after getting past Levi Grady-White, of Central, during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 championship Friday at Curry Hicks Cage. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Meikyle Murray, left, of Amherst Regional, shoots against Hason Ward, of Central, during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 championship Friday at Curry Hicks Cage. He drew a foul. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Meikkel Murray, top, of Amherst Regional, shoots against Central during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 championship Friday at Curry Hicks Cage. The shot put Amherst ahead for the first time in the game with 32 seconds left play. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tate Reitkerk, of Amherst Regional, scores his second free throw at the close of his team's game against Central during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 championship Friday at Curry Hicks Cage. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Meikkel Murray, top, of Amherst, shoots against Central Friday. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tate Reitkerk, left, of Amherst Regional, moves the ball against Central defenders Hason Ward, center, and Ahmad Conner with seconds left in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 championship Friday at Curry Hicks Cage. Amherst coach Jim Matuszko looks on. A moment later, Reitkerk was fouled on a shot, sending him to the line for three free throw attempts. He scored two. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The Amherst Regional team swarms Meikkel Murray, second from left, after his shot put them ahead for the first time against Central with 32 seconds left to play. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The Amherst Regional team endures its 61-60 loss as Central receives the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament championship trophy, Friday at Curry Hicks Cage. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS



@Hargraves24
Saturday, March 11, 2017

AMHERST — With a chance at a championship, the Amherst Regional boys basketball team had an opportunity to hoist the trophy for the first time since 2003.

Amherst led Central by a point with 16 seconds left in front of a packed, rowdy crowd at the Curry Hicks Cage Friday night.

Two mistakes cost the Hurricanes, and Central came away with a 61-60 win in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament finals.

Amherst’s title drought spanning 14 years continues as the Hurricanes lost in the finals for a third straight season.

With Amherst leading 58-57, Josh Pressley cut toward the rim on an inbounds play and gave the Golden Eagles the lead back with 11 seconds left.

“We needed to hold them from scoring on that possession,” Amherst coach Jim Matusko said. “Then we threw the ball away. Two bad things in a row.”

Central’s Maickel DeJesus stole the ensuing inbounds pass and was immediately fouled. His free throws gave the Golden Eagles a 61-58 lead with 10 seconds left.

Amherst advanced the ball and Tate Rietkerk got fouled shooting a 3-pointer with two seconds left. After sinking the first two, Rietkerk’s last attempt rimmed out.

“I told Tate that we wouldn’t have been that close if it wasn’t for him,” Matuszko said. “He played a really good game. He defended well when we were in foul trouble.”

Amherst’s Meikkel Murray was in foul trouble the entire game, but still managed to score 27 points.

“I had a great career, everyone showed me a lot of love,” Murray said. “But I have to be out there for my team. Being on the bench doesn’t do any good.”

A right-handed scooping layup by Murray put Amherst ahead 58-57 with 32 seconds left before Pressley’s play and DeJesus’ steal.

Seth Bella-Hunter (10 points), in foul trouble in the first half, calmly hit a baseline jumper for Amherst to cut Central’s lead to 57-56 with a minute left.

Meikyle Murray was also in double figures with 10 points for Amherst, while Will Budington added eight points with two 3-pointers.

Central’s defense and the foul trouble led to a 16-point first half for Amherst, but Meikkel Murray’s presence in the third quarter sparked a run for the Hurricanes.

Murray scored 23 of his 27 points in the second half as he began to figure out Central’s defense.

Seniors Meikkel Murray, Bella-Hunter, Tajahn Joyner, Liam Kelly, Alexander Perry, Iani Ferreira and Thomas Perry played their last game for Amherst.

DeJesus scored 17 points for Central. Pressley led the Golden Eagles with 19 points while Jorge Torres added 18.

Central 61, Amherst 60

Amherst (17-6)

Meikkel Murray 9-9-27, Meikyle Murray 3-3-10, Joyner 1-3-5, Bella-Hunter 3-2-8, Budington 2-2-8, Blanchard 0-0-0, Rietkerk 0-2-2, Perry 0-0-0, Roman 0-0-0 Totals 18-17-60

Central (19-2)

Garcia 6-3-17, Conner 1-0-2, Pressley 9-0-19, Torres 7-4-18, White 1-0-2, Ward 1-1-3 Totals 25-8-61

Amherst

7

9

21

23

—60

Central

11

14

16

20

—61

3-Pointers—Amherst 3 (Meikyle Murray, Budington 2); Central 3 (Garcia 2, Pressley)