Granby, South Hadley earn No. 2 seeds in Western Mass. Boys Basketball Tournament
Junior guard Corey Baker, left, and the Granby boys basketball team are the No. 2 seed in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament, which starts Monday with first-round games. Purchase photo reprints »
SPRINGFIELD — It’s been over seven years since the Granby boys basketball won the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament.
If the Rams are going to end the streak, they will have to navigate a treacherous field.
Granby (17-3) was awarded the No. 2 seed in the sectional tournament Saturday. The brackets were announced Saturday at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, where the Rams, along with South Hadley (No. 2 in Division 2) were given the highest seeds among local teams.
The Division 3 field is unpredictable. The division has seen five different winners over the last five years.
“The top seven teams are really good,” Granby coach Tim Sheehan said. “There’s no doubt about it. There are going to be upsets somewhere alone the line. I hopes it’s not me but I really think somebody’s going to get upset in this and the parity is going to come through. The Division 3 field is very strong.”
The top seven include last year’s final four of Mount Greylock (No. 3, 17-3), Smith Academy (No. 4, 17-3), runner-up Lee (No. 7, 12-8) and defending champ St. Joseph’s (No. 6, 11-8).
Renaissance (18-2), which split with Granby this season, earned the program’s first No. 1 seed.
No. 5 New Leadership (8-12), which went 5-8 against Division 1 teams this season, won the tournament in 2010 and was second in 2009.
The Rams enter the postseason on a four-game winning streak. Just prior to the streak they narrowly lost to South Hadley 62-60 on Feb. 2. That followed a 63-52 loss at home to Renaissance.
“I think we’re in a good place,” Sheehan said. “Every since the South Hadley game we have been playing our best basketball. We started to figure out we can play with anybody.”
Granby will host a quarterfinal game on Thursday and play the winner between Monday’s No. 10 Turners Falls and No. 7 Lee matchup.
Smith Academy might have the toughest path to the semifinal round. The Falcons host No. 13 Ware (10-10), which beat D-2 qualifier Palmer, Monday at 7 p.m. Should they advance, they will likely have to travel to Springfield to face New Leadership, which hosts No. 12 St. Mary (15-5) on Monday.
If No. 7 Belchertown, No. 4 Taconic and South Hadley, the top three offensive teams in Division 2 respectively, have title aspirations, they better be prepared to grind it out.
Three of the top five defensive teams in western Massachusetts reside in the eight-team D-3 field.
Top seed Greenfield (18-2) is also No. 1 in defense with 40.1 ppg. Defending state champ Mahar (No. 5, 15-5) is third (44.5) followed by Wahconah (No. 6, 10-10) in fifth (46.4).
No. 3 Sabis (7-13) plays the same difficult schedule as South Hadley. No. 8 Palmer (11-9) played in the Bi-County League, which sent six teams to the postseason.
“This is what has been causing me anxiety in the whole Division 2 tournament, anyone on that list can beat anyone,” South Hadley coach Jeff Guiel said. “Any one of those eight teams can win the tournament. We will be 1,000 percent laser focused on Belchertown. We’ll have our hands full with them.”
South Hadley hosts Belchertown Thursday at 7 p.m. In the quarterfinal round.
Amherst Regional (14-6) just missed a first-round bye with the No. 5 seed. The Hurricanes host No 12 Pittsfield (13-7) Monday at 7 p.m.
Should Amherst advance, it will see No. 4 Holyoke (14-6), which won 70-46 in the finals of the Pioneer Valley Tip-Off at the Curry Hicks Cage on Dec. 16. Leading scorer Noris Cuevas-Nova (12.6 ppg) did not play in that game.
Northampton (No. 6, 12-7) hosts No. 11 Agawam (6-14), which qualified by placing second in the Central Division, Monday at 7.
The Blue Devils opened 8-2 but finished 4-5. Agawam started 1-11 but closed 5-3.
The Brownies are led by junior Tyler Desrosiers. The 1,000-point scorer led western Mass. in scoring at 26.9 ppg.
Hamp won 68-59 on Jan. 10. Desrosiers had 24 points in the loss.
Defending state champion Central (16-4) is the No. 1 seed again.
ELSEWHERE: Should Mount Greylock get past No. 14 Smith Voke (10-8) today and St. Joseph’s beat No. 11 Frontier (11-9) Tuesday, the two Berkshire County South powers will meet in the quarterfinal round for a third time this season. Greylock won 64-61 on Jan. 25 and 63-58 on Feb. 15.
St. Joe senior Tank Roberson finished second in western Mass. with a 26.5 average. He is the program’s all-time leading scorer.
Frontier coach Ben Barshefsky is familiar with Roberson. Barshefsky held his first teaching job in physical education at Silvio O Conte Community School in Pittsfield. One of his fifth-graders was non other than Taverick “Little Tank” Roberson.
Mike Moran can be reached at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @mikemoranDHG.