South Hadley pulls away, beats Belchertown for third straight win

Last modified: Friday, February 07, 2014
BELCHERTOWN — First-year South Hadley boys basketball coach Dylan Dubuc got after his team early in the second quarter Thursday.

The Tigers held a four-point lead on Belchertown and during a timeout, Dubuc pushed and pleaded for most hustle and energy.

It worked. South Hadley built a double-digit lead and held off a couple Orioles’ runs to win 64-48.

It was the Tigers’ third straight win.

“We like the strides we’re taking,” Dubuc said. “When we lost to Agawam (Jan. 10) we had a sit down and guys were honest with each other and were honest with ourselves on what we need to improve on. We’re been hitting those areas, now it’s about consistency.”

South Hadley led 18-14 early in the second when Dubuc called timeout. The Tigers responded with tough defense and pulled out to a 31-17 halftime lead.

“We’re still working as a team playing with energy and passion for the full 32 minutes,” Dubuc said. “That’s one of our weaknesses right now and that’s what we’re trying to improve on. We’re hard on them in practice, trying to get them to practice a full two hours at that pace with that energy and effort so it can carry over into games and we’re not there yet.”

South Hadley (5-4, 2-3 Suburban) maintained the lead until back-to-back 3-pointers by Billy Aldrich (14 points) and Noah Lussier (19 points) pulled the Orioles (2-9, 0-6) within 41-34 with 1 minutes, 44 seconds left in the third.

The seven-point deficit was as close as Belchertown got.

“The guys can play with almost anyone in the league,” Belchertown coach Bill Beauregard said. “I’m not saying we’re going to beat all the teams but we’re going to compete and give ourselves a chance. We’re improving and when they can battle back that’s good to see. We battled back and kept fighting.”

Following Lussier’s 3, South Hadley called timeout and answered with its long-range game. Cam Earle (21 points) hit four 3s as the Tigers pulled away to a 58-41 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

“We’re trying to score in transition, but also have the discipline to pull it out,” Dubuc said. “Our half-court sets are good and they work well when people run them well.”

The Orioles made a late run behind their press and defense. Liam O’Brien (10 points) and Aldrich combined for five free throws and Corey Henson scored on a fast break to cut the deficit to 58-48 with less than three minutes left.

“It’s a work in progress,” Beauregard said. “If they compete like this every night we’ll be pretty tough in the end.”

Nate Flachs (14 points), Griffin Fitzell (11 points) and Ben Reed added baskets inside down the stretch as South Hadley extended its lead.

“There were multiple times where we should have put the foot on the pedal and tried to get some separation, but it comes back to effort and energy,” Dubuc said. “Guys turn it on and off and when you don’t have it on defense, offensive players can feel that. When you play with energy and passion and you’re up on guys and make them do something they’re uncomfortable with, it changes the game and changes the way they play.”

Mike Moran can be reached at mmoran@gazettenet.com.