×

Division 1 boys basketball: Putnam’s denies Amherst fourth straight trip to sectional finals, 57-55

  • Tate Rietkerk, right, of Amherst Regional, and Richard Foster, of Putnam, go after a loose ball Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018 at Western New England University in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Arlo Blanchard, right, of Amherst Regional, shoots against Milan Harrison, of Putnam, Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018 at Western New England University in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tate Rietkerk, right, of Amherst Regional, shoots against Naishaun Goldsberry, of Putnam, Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018 at Western New England University in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Kyle Murray, right, of Amherst Regional, shoots against Milan Harrison, of Putnam, Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018 at Western New England University in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jaz Roman, of Amherst Regional, scores a three-point shot against Putnam, Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018 at Western New England University in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jaz Roman, left, of Amherst Regional, scores a three-point shot against Naishaun Goldsberry, of Putnam, Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018 at Western New England University in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Kyle Murray, of Amherst Regional, dunks against Putnam, Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018 at Western New England University in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Kyle Murray, right, of Amherst Regional, shoots against Richard Foster, of Putnam, Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018 at Western New England University in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tate Rietkerk, right, of Amherst Regional, shoots against Naishaun Goldsberry, of Putnam, Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018 at Western New England University in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Lucas Willocq, top, of Amherst Regional, drives to the basket against Jalen Bruce, of Putnam, Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018 at Western New England University in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jaz Roman, of Amherst Regional, endures his team's loss to Putnam in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament semifinal, Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018 at Western New England University in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Amherst Regional players and their fans celebrate after a dunk by Kyle Murray against Putnam, Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018 at Western New England University in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jaz Roman, center, of Amherst Regional, shoots against Naishaun Goldsberry, of Putnam, Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018 at Western New England University in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Lucas Willocq, center, of Amherst Regional, rebounds between Putnam defenders Milan Harrison, left, and Naishaun Goldsberry, Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018 at Western New England University in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tate Rietkerk, right, of Amherst Regional, draws a foul from Jalen McCoy, of Putnam, during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament semifinal, Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018 at Western New England University in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Amherst Regional coach Jim Matuszko talks to his team during their game against Putnam, Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018 at Western New England University in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The Amherst Regional team leaves the court after their loss to Putnam in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament semifinal, Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018 at Western New England University in Springfield. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS



For the Gazette
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

SPRINGFIELD — Jaz Roman’s floater fell short at the buzzer as the Amherst Regional boys basketball team’s season came to an close, Tuesday.

Second-seeded Putnam returned to the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament final with a 57-55 victory over the No. 3 Hurricanes, at Western New England University.

Putnam (18-3), which won sectional titles from 2013-16, will face 2017 champ and top seed Central (21-0), Friday. Amherst was seeking a fourth straight trip to the finals.

“I just feel bad,” Amherst coach Jim Matuszko said. “These guys worked so hard to get to where we were tonight, and we felt like we had a good shot at it.”

Putnam jumped out to an 11-2 lead thanks to solid execution on the offensive end and some early jitters from the Hurricanes.

It was not until an early loose ball helped the Hurricanes find a rhythm. A tipped rebound rolled to the 3-point line and Kyle Murray, the Hurricanes senior captain and leader, laid out among a crowd of opponents and came away with the ball.

The result of the scramble was a Roman corner 3. That one play bred life into the Hurricanes players and crowd. Amherst weathered the storm and managed to finish the first quarter down 15-13.

“We took a big shot early and we responded well and came back,” Amherst Coach Jim Matuszko said. “We talked about it at halftime. We got into a hole early, and we got ourselves out of it. We weren’t going to go back in it.”

The Hurricanes got hot in the second quarter. Roman pulled out a nasty step-back move for two, and drilled another 3-pointer. Murray hit a 28-footer among a bunch of other moves as the Hurricanes clawed to a 30-28 halftime lead.

Murray is the engine of the Hurricanes, but it was Roman who saved them in the semifinals. While Murray had 15 points on two 3s, Roman finished with 19 points and five 3s.

“He was the X-factor today for sure,” Matuszko said. “He’s been doing that occasionally during the year, but not recently, so it was good to see him come back and do it tonight.”

Putnam adjusted after halftime and used a full-court press on the Hurricanes that caused some confusion and lead to turnovers for Amherst. But Murray kept his team afloat.

He flew high over the rim to block a shot that lead to an Amherst layup and then moments later stole a pass and flew down the other end for a loud two-handed dunk as Amherst entered the fourth down 43-41.

“It’s huge,” Matuszko said of Murray’s defense. “It’s tough when he plays all 32 minutes, sometimes I think he rests on defense. He stepped it up in the third quarter.”

Tied 52-52 in the fourth, Putnam’s Naishaun Goldsberry gave Putnam the lead with one free throw. He missed the second, but the Beavers, who were beaten on the glass by Amherst for most of the game, got the offensive rebounds and putback for a 55-52 lead.

Amherst came down and with 30 seconds left in the game, senior Tate Rietkerk (17 points) pulled up on the wing and banked home a 3-pointer to tie the game at 55 and send the crowd into a frenzy.

Putnam’s Milan Harrison answered out of the timeout with a driving layup to give the Beavers a 57-55 edge.

Putnam’s defense held as Roman’s floater hit the front rim and fell off as the clock hit zero.

“At the beginning of the season we had only two returning players and I thought ‘just be competitive in the league’ because we got bumped up a league,” said Matuszko, whose team was realigned from the Valley Wheel to the tougher Valley League.

“We end up getting the three seed and I thought things were looking up,” Matuszko added. “I thought we did our homework, I just wish we hadn’t run out of gas tonight. They’re a very tough team to matchup with.”

It was last game for seniors Lucas Willocq, Murray and Rietkerk.

Putnam 57, Amherst Regional 55

Amherst (13-9)

Roman 7-0-19, Murray 5-3-15, Rietkerk 6-1-17, Willocq 1-0-2, Blanchard 1-0-2, Perry 0-0-0. Totals: 20-4-55

Putnam (18-3)

Bruce 4-1-9, Jernigan 6-3-17, McCoy 2-0-4, Harrison 8-4-21, Foster 2-1-6. Totals: 22-9-57

Amherst

13

17

11

14

—55

Putnam

15

13

15

14

—57

3-Pointers—Putnam 4 (Jernigan 2, Harrison, Foster) Amherst 11 (Roman 5, Murray 2, Rietkerk 4)