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Easthampton edges Hampshire on emotional night as rivals raise awareness to substance abuse

  • Dominik Lewinski, right, of Hampshire Regional, passes against Sopie Pek, of Easthampton, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ant Moynihan, left, of Easthampton, intercepts a pass intended by Justin Forest, of Hampshire Regional, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Zade Jenkins, right, of Easthampton, moves the ball against Hampshire Regional defenders Wes Legowski, left, and Nick Pellegrini, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Damien Diluzio, right, of Easthampton, looks to pass against Everett Warner, of Hampshire Regional, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • A jersey worn by the late Mitch Ouimette is presented to his father, Jim Ouimette, center, his sister Chantel, left, and his mother, Evelyn, by former Hampshire Regional players Kamil Bak, from left, Matt Labrie and Conor Cronin during a Substance Abuse Awareness Night, Thursday at Hampshire Regional High School. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Darnell Whitley, of Easthampton, shoots against Hampshire Regional, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Darnell Whitley, left, of Easthampton, shoots against Drew Caires, of Hampshire Regional, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Sopie Pek, center, drives to the basket against Dominik Lewinski, of Hampshire Regional, Thursday at Hampshire Regional High School in Westhampton. Easthampton won 61-60. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos and video. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Damien Diluzio, left, of Easthampton, passes against Hampshire Regional defenders Nick Pellegrini, right, and Dominik Lewinski, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Zade Jenkins, right, of Easthampton, gets his hand on the ball as David Helems, of Hampshire Regional, drives past him, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Everett Warner, center, of Hampshire Regional, shoots against Easthampton defenders Zade Jenkins, left, and Darnell Whitley, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • David Helems, right, of Hampshire Regional, drives to the basket on a breakaway against Easthampton, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • David Helems, center, of Hampshire Regional, drives to the basket between Easthampton defenders Darnell Whitley, left, and Zade Jenkins, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Hampshire Regional fans, many dressed in white for Substance Abuse Awareness Night, cheer for their team, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Dominik Lewinski, center, of Hampshire Regional, shoots between Easthampton defenders Ronan Mottor, left, and Darnell Whitley, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Wes Legowski, of Hampshire Regional, drives to the basket on a breakaway against Easthampton, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Wes Legowski, of Hampshire Regional, drives to the basket on a breakaway against Easthampton, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018 at Hampshire Regional High School. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS



@kylegrbwsk
Friday, February 09, 2018

WESTHAMPTON — Easthampton didn’t pause.

Darnel Whitley took the ball straight from the net after Hampshire Regional’s Nick Pellegrini hit a go-ahead 3-pointer in front of his “Raider Nation” student section with 14 seconds left. Pandemonium threatened. Hampshire’s bench leapt in the air and slapped the floor, waving towels.

It was an emotional night Thursday. The Raiders held a pregame ceremony where Hampshire alumni presented Mitch Ouimette’s jersey to his family.

The ceremony also raised awareness of substance abuse. Ouimette, who played basketball for Hampshire and football for Easthampton, died of an opiod overdose in the fall.

Easthampton senior point guard Sopie Pek found calm in the endgame chaos, dribbling the ball up the court.

“We didn’t run a play because we knew what had to be done,” he said.

Pek dribbled toward the rim until Wes Legowski and David Helems impeded his progress. He passed the ball out to Zade Jenkins, who returned it as Pek reset. One dribble later, Pek fired the ball to Ant Moynihan on the wing.

He threw a shoulder hesitation at Everett Warner, flying in to block the shot of a threatening 3-point shooter. Moynihan dribbled once inside the 3-point line, steadied himself and swished a game-winning jumper with 1.3 seconds left.

“They were expecting us to call timeout, so we just went with it and they weren’t ready to defend it,” Moynihan said.

Easthampton won 61-60. Eagles coach Brian Miller never considered calling a timeout after Pellegrini’s shot even though he had some to spare.

“For us to call a timeout and set up a play goes against what we do,” Miller said. “There were 14 seconds left. We rarely get to 14 in the shot clock, anyway.”

Easthampton (11-4, 5-0 Bi-County East) started the game with the same pace. The Eagles built a 20-6 lead after one quarter.

“We were getting steals, we were getting out in transition, they weren’t able to slow us down,” Miller said. “Then they fell into that zone.”

It slowed Easthampton down. Hampshire (5-12, 2-3) outscored Easthampton 42-28 in the second and third quarters.

Helems stole the ball and finished a layup through contact with 9.9 seconds left in the third quarter to pull the Raiders within 1. He made the free throw to tie the game at 48 going into the final quarter.

“We really played good defense. We didn’t get bullied off the ball,” Hampshire coach Lee Mollison said. “Easthampton plays such strong, physical defense it’s hard to advance the ball and get comfortable. I worked the officials a little. We buckled down.”

The teams exchanged blows throughout the fourth quarter until Easthampton built a 59-55 lead with 52.9 seconds left. Moynihan, who finished with 16 points, drove into the lane through some contact and hit the floor. The whistle blew for a travel.

Helems missed a short runner on Hampshire’s next possession, but Dominik Lewinski grabbed the rebound and stuck a layup off the glass with 44 seconds left to make it a one-possession game.

After Easthampton missed a 3 on its next possession, Helems attacked the rim, but Whitley blocked him out of bounds. The Raiders got the ball back, and that set up Pellegrini, who finished with 16 points.

He took a contested 3 with Mollison right behind him, but he made it.

“We were trying to run some offense. I said to Pelly ‘relax’ before he hit the shot, but I also gave him the green light,” Mollison said.

After Moynihan answered, Hampshire called timeout. The referees conferred with the scoreboard operator. They put 2 seconds on the clock.

On the inbounds pass, Pellegrini found Helems on a crossing route reminiscent of their football connection. He took three dribbles to get across the half-court line looking at the dwindling clock and threw up a measured heave that fell just short and right of the rim.

“He got a decent look, that’s a good push,” Miller said.

After the game, both teams and fans mingled. Many wore white in solidarity with those struggling with addiction. Hampshire handed out red ribbons.

“It was really special because substance abuse is just running rampant,” Mollison said. “The more we talk about it and make it normal conversation the better it is for everybody.”

There was a table accepting donations that raised more than $300.

“It’s overwhelming, keeping his memory alive so that people can learn from his mistakes,” Jim Ouimette said. “It’s taking a tragedy and making something good out of it.”