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Boys basketball: Smith Academy runs past Westfield Tech to keep tournament hopes alive

  • Jack Zigmont, top, of Smith Academy, shoots against Kenneth Flores, of Westfield Tech, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018 at Smith Academy. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Brett Gratz, right, of Smith Academy, passes against Tyler Starzyk, of Westfield Tech, Monday at Smith Academy. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Smith Academy players Matt Bouley, left, and Jack Zigmont, right, eye a rebound beside Joshua Bush, of Westfield Tech, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018 at Smith Academy. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jack Zigmont, of Smith Academy, shoots against Westfield Tech, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018 at Smith Academy. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Smith Academy players Jack Zigmont, left, and Carter Woodward, center, try to box in David Tikhonchuk, of Westfield Tech, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018 at Smith Academy. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Carter Woodward, front, of Smith Academy, drives to the basket against David Tikhonchuk, of Westfield Tech, Monday, Feb. 12, 2018 at Smith Academy. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Carter Woodward, left, of Smith Academy, drives to the basket ahead of Andrew Czeremcha, of Westfield Tech, Monday at Smith Academy. Carter finished with 27 points in the 77-46 victory. The win kept Smith Academy’s postseason hopes alive. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS



For the Gazette
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

HATFIELD — The Smith Academy boys basketball team blew past Westfield Technical Academy Monday night, 77-46, picking up its third consecutive win as the weight of qualifying for postseason play lingers.

“It’s obviously the long part of the season but we have to treat every game like it’s a tournament game for the rest of the year,” Smith coach Matt Zerneri said. “There’s some things to work on, they know it, they’re the ones who actually said it in the locker room.”

The Falcons (8-10) were led by a 27-point performance from Carter Woodward, who accumulated a team-high seven 3-pointers in the victory. The junior went 2-for-2 from the foul line and was the hot hand for Smith.

“My teammates found me when I was open,” Woodward said. “Tonight it happened to be me, but it could’ve been anybody.”

Smith set the tone in the first quarter, taking a 25-15 lead.

Woodward went on an 8-0 run by himself in the opening minutes, sinking two 3-pointers and a fast-break layup that contributed to his 11 first-quarter points.

“When he gets a little bit of space, he’s dangerous,” Zerneri said. “We talk about it everyday, we feed the hot hand, whoever’s got it has to take it. Carter had it tonight and we did a good job finding him and getting those open looks.”

Owen Baranoski was fouled under the basket toward the end of the second quarter and went 1-for-2 from the line to increase Smith’s lead to 38-23. The Tigers responded with a 3-pointer on the other end to make it 38-26 with 50 seconds remaining before the half.

Smith answered as Jack Zigmont faked the baseline drive and pulled back for a long jump shot to give the Falcons a 40-26 lead at the half and halt any potential Tiger momentum.

“First half I thought we came out sluggish, I don’t think we played as hard as we needed to,” Zerneri said. “Second half the effort was better but it’s still not where we need to be in order to be a tournament team or go anywhere in the tournament.”

Max Bartlett opened the second half with an explosive putback off a missed Zigmont 3-pointer that drew a foul. The junior went 2-for-2 from the line to increase the lead to 44-28. Bartlett finished with 10 points.

Moments later Woodward sank his fifth 3-pointer to make it 52-30 with roughly four minutes remaining in the third quarter. Zigmont and Gratz added back-to-back 3-pointers a few possessions later for a 60-35 Smith lead.

Zigmont finished with 14 points, while Gratz added 12, including 5-for-6 from the foul line.

“When we finally started getting it going we were moving it around a lot more,” Woodward said. “When we weren’t moving it around we weren’t getting anything, but our shots were falling.”

Smith Academy needs to win its final two games to qualify for the postseason, or it needs to finish second in the Hampshire North.

The Falcons are 4-2 in the league with two games left. Frontier (5-1) remained in first despite its loss to Greenfield (5-2) Monday. Smith closes with Mohawk and Frontier.

“We really need to not let down and not let (the team) get comfortable in practice, keep working hard and getting after it,” Zerneri said. “We don’t want to leave it up to chance, we want to keep it in our hands and not leave it up to anyone else.

“(The team) needs to know that their backs are against the wall, the fact that these guys haven’t been in the tournament yet, it’d be huge for us to get in.”