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Division 2 boys basketball: Northampton pulls away to beat Chicopee, advance to championship

  • Jaeden Johndrow, left, of Northampton, draws a foul from Ramon Jimenez, of Chicopee, Thursday at Western New England University. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Anthony DeJesus, top right, of Northampton, shoots against Chicopee defenders Daimian Ocasio, left, and Leroy Matthews, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at Western New England University. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Diego Corrada-Mattei, center, of Northampton shoots against Chicopee defenders Alex Antuna, left, and Nathan Thibodeau, Thursday at Western New England University. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Anthony DeJesus, left, of Northampton, looks for a shot against Alex Antuna, of Chicopee, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at Western New England University. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Michael McCarthy, left, of Northampton, moves the ball against Chicopee defenders Leroy Matthews, right, and Daimian Ocasio, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at Western New England University. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Diego Corrada-Mattei, right, of Northampton, tries to complete a drive to the basket after tug on the forearm from Daimian Ocasio, of Chicopee, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at Western New England University. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Anthony DeJesus, left, of Northampton begins a shot against Daimian Ocasio, of Chicopee, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at Western New England University. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Michael McCarthy, center, of Northampton, goes to a loose ball against Rodney Vazquez, of Chicopee, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at Western New England University. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ben Pion, right, of Northampton, shoots against Isaiah Haines, of Chicopee, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at Western New England University. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Anthony DeJesus, left, of Northampton shoots against Daimian Ocasio, of Chicopee, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at Western New England University. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jaeden Johndrow, top, of Northampton, drives to the basket against Nathan Thibodeau, of Chicopee, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at Western New England University. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Andy Grygorcewicz, right, of Northampton, shoots against Nathan Thibodeau, of Chicopee, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at Western New England University. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Members of the Northampton team, with coach Rey Harp, cheer for their team Thursday, March 8, 2018 at Western New England University. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jaeden Johndrow, right, of Northampton, drives to the basket against Isaiah Haines, of Chicopee, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at Western New England University. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Northampton coach Rey Harp talks to his team during their win against Chicopee, Thursday, March 8, 2018 at Western New England University. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS



@kylegrbwsk
Friday, March 09, 2018

SPRINGFIELD — Diego Corrada-Mattei locked eyes with Jaeden Johndrow sprinting up the floor. Johndrow pointed up for an instant, and Corrada-Mattei knew exactly what to do.

“We have pretty good chemistry,” said Corrada-Mattei, a senior. “I know he can go get it.”

He lofted the basketball high and to the left of the rim at Western New England University. Johndrow summoned all the power in his legs and jumped. The Northampton junior caught the ball and made eye contact with the rim before powering it through, finishing a thunderous alley-oop.

The Blue Devils’ entire cheering section roared to its feet. They sensed a victory in Thursday’s Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament semifinal. The basket put Northampton up seven with 1 minute, 26 seconds left in the third quarter.

“The crowd really got into it after that,” Corrada-Mattei said. “I thought that was a good second wave for us.”

Northampton rode several waves to beat Chicopee 65-56 and reach the finals for the first time since 2011 when they were in Division 1.

The top-seeded Blue Devils (15-6) will face No. 6 Taconic (15-7) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Curry Hicks Cage. They join the Northampton girls team, which will play Tantasqua at 5:45 p.m. in the Division 2 title game.

Northampton beat Taconic, 61-43, in both teams’ second game of the season on Dec. 13.

“I told them when we left the court, ‘that’s a team you’re going to have to beat to get a championship,” Northampton coach Ray Harp said. “That’s a program I respect as much as any in Western Mass.”

Sixteen days passed since the Blue Devils’ last game of the regular season Feb. 20. They’ve only played one game since Valentine’s Day, but it didn’t look like it in the first quarter.

The Blue Devils scored the game’s first 12 points before Isaiah Haines got the Pacers on the board 4:05 into the game. Corrada-Mattei powered much of that stretch, scoring 10 of his game-high 21 points in the opening frame.

“We were a little bit concerned (about the layoff),” Harp said. “It was important for us to establish ourselves early, or this could have been a long game.”

Chicopee almost made it one anyway. The Pacers reined Northampton in during the second quarter, as Ramon Jimenez hit a 3-poiner at the halftime buzzer to cut Chicopee’s deficit to one going into the locker room.

“The second (quarter) was sloppy, they took control,” Harp said. “The third one was competitive.”

Chicopee first took the lead 41 seconds into the second half when Rodney Vazquez pump-faked Andy Grygorcewicz to draw the foul, hit the layup and made a free throw for a 31-29 lead. It exchanged hands six times during the quarter.

Ben Pion steadied Hamp off the bench. He gave the Blue Devils a lead that would last when he made a layup after an offensive rebound with 3:45 left in the third quarter to make it 36-35 Northampton. Pion finished with seven points, all in the third.

“It’s not about the points. He settled us on offense,” Harp said. “He played defense and calmed us down. He was pretty much our most important contributor out there most of the second half.”

Northampton’s lead swelled back to double-digits when Corrada-Mattei hit a 3 to go up 60-49 with 2:26 left. By then the Blue Devils just needed a steady hand to return to the Cage.

“There’s a lot of seniors on this team,” Corrada-Mattei said. “We want to leave our mark.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.

Northampton 65, Chicopee 56

Chicopee (12-10)

Corrada-Mattei 6-6-21, DeJesus 5-2-12, Johndrow 4-0-9, Grygorcewicz 1-3-5, McCarthy 1-5-7, Pion 2-2-7, Moreau 0-2-2, Wills 0-0-0, Thurston 1-0-2. Totals 20-20-65

Northampton (15-6)

Duffy 1-0-2, Henry 9-5-25, Pikul 1-0-2, Roche 0-0-0, LeBlanc 1-1-3, S. Birks1-1-3, McKenzie 4-0-8, Genereux 0-1-1, J. Birks 0-0-0, Masalerz 1-0-3, White 1-0-2. Totals 19-8-49

Chicopee

9

19

14

14

—56

Northampton

19

10

16

20

—65

3-Pointers—Chicopee 5 (Haines 3, Jimenez, Antuna), Northampton 5 (Corrada-Mattei 3, Johndrow, Pion)