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Smith Academy boys hoop falls to Greenfield 

  • Keith Natale of Smith Academy, top, leaps Tyler Miller of Greenfield while going after a loose ball Friday at Smith Academy.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Keith Natale of Smith Academy, top, leaps Tyler Miller of Greenfield while going after a loose ball Friday at Smith Academy.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Seaver Rickert of Smith Academy, left, drives to the basket against Tyler Miller of Greenfield Friday at Smith Academy.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Seaver Rickert of Smith Academy, left, drives to the basket against Tyler Miller of Greenfield Friday at Smith Academy.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Derek McMahon of Smith Academy scores on a breakaway against Greenfield Friday at Smith Academy.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Derek McMahon of Smith Academy scores on a breakaway against Greenfield Friday at Smith Academy.
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  • Keith Natale, right, and Mat Sulda of Smith Academy, front, defend against Vincent Funari of Greenfield Friday at Smith Academy.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Keith Natale, right, and Mat Sulda of Smith Academy, front, defend against Vincent Funari of Greenfield Friday at Smith Academy.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • David Longstreeth of Smith Academy, left, looks for a way around Greenfield defenders Tim Cooley, front and Vicnet Funari Friday at Smith Academy.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    David Longstreeth of Smith Academy, left, looks for a way around Greenfield defenders Tim Cooley, front and Vicnet Funari Friday at Smith Academy.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Keith Natale of Smith Academy, top right, shoots against Tyler Miller of Greenfield Friday at Smith Academy.JERREY ROBERTS

    Keith Natale of Smith Academy, top right, shoots against Tyler Miller of Greenfield Friday at Smith Academy.JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mat Sulda of Smith Academy, front, drives past Tyler Miller of Greenfield Friday at Smith Academy.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Mat Sulda of Smith Academy, front, drives past Tyler Miller of Greenfield Friday at Smith Academy.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Derek McMahon of Smith Academy, center, shoots against Lew Borden of Greenfield, left, Friday at Smith Academy. Parker Hickey looks on, right.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Derek McMahon of Smith Academy, center, shoots against Lew Borden of Greenfield, left, Friday at Smith Academy. Parker Hickey looks on, right.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Keith Natale of Smith Academy, top, leaps Tyler Miller of Greenfield while going after a loose ball Friday at Smith Academy.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Seaver Rickert of Smith Academy, left, drives to the basket against Tyler Miller of Greenfield Friday at Smith Academy.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Derek McMahon of Smith Academy scores on a breakaway against Greenfield Friday at Smith Academy.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Keith Natale, right, and Mat Sulda of Smith Academy, front, defend against Vincent Funari of Greenfield Friday at Smith Academy.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • David Longstreeth of Smith Academy, left, looks for a way around Greenfield defenders Tim Cooley, front and Vicnet Funari Friday at Smith Academy.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Keith Natale of Smith Academy, top right, shoots against Tyler Miller of Greenfield Friday at Smith Academy.JERREY ROBERTS
  • Mat Sulda of Smith Academy, front, drives past Tyler Miller of Greenfield Friday at Smith Academy.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Derek McMahon of Smith Academy, center, shoots against Lew Borden of Greenfield, left, Friday at Smith Academy. Parker Hickey looks on, right.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

HATFIELD — The Smith Academy boys basketball team needed a game like the one it experienced Friday.

The Falcons have beaten their opponents by an average of 30 points this season. Only twice has a team stayed within single digits — a two-point loss to Greenfield and a two-point win over Taconic, both in December.

The Green Wave were back for more, this time at Sherry A. Webb Gymnasium, and the outcome was much the same. In an extremely close game, Smith Academy had opportunities down the stretch but fell 55-54 to snap a 10-game winning streak.

“These are the games that as teams you have to cherish,” Smith Academy senior Mat Sulda said. “This is exactly what tournament is going to be like. Fans all over the place. Good games. It always comes down to the stretch in tournament time. Every team is good.”

The game had a postseason feel. The Falcons (12-2, 10-2 Hampshire West) are among those fighting for a top seed in Division 3. Greenfield (12-0, 12-0 East) is pushing for a top seed in Division 2.

With both sides of the gym packed, the teams battled through seven ties and 16 lead changes. The final tie was 52-52 following a two free throws by Sulda with 3 minutes, 2 seconds remaining in the game.

Lew Borden answered with one from the line on the other end and the game had more stops than goes the rest of the way.

“Neither team really let the other run the offense they wanted to,” Falcons coach Matt Zerneri said. “Neither got in a good rhythm and that’s good defense.”

With less than two minutes remaining, Smith called a timeout after a defensive rebound and Sulda converted a jumper at the other end with the shot clock winding down. His basket gave the Falcons a 54-53 lead with 1:33 left. It was their final lead of the game.

On the Green Wave’s next possession, Borden (24 points) rolled to the basket off a screen and scored inside for the final basket.

“They play us tough,” Sulda said. “They play tough ‘D.’ They executed on offense. We executed. It came down the last couple plays and they ended up on top.”

Down the stretch both teams had opportunities but neither converted.

Borden blocked Smith Academy’s Seaver Rickert inside with 53 seconds left.

Falcon junior Keith Natale, who scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half, missed the front end of a one-and-one with 22.9 seconds left.

Greenfield’s Robin Marchese (10 points) missed the first of a one-and-one with 15 seconds left. Smith pushed the rebound up court and had a shot at a layup but instead Smith called timeout 10 seconds remaining. Sulda had an open 3 off the inbounds but missed.

“We had a screen coming up high and one coming for Keith to go down low. That was a first look and we got it,” Sulda said. “I got to knock it down.”

Borden then missed two from the line with four seconds left.

Needing to go the length of the court, David Longstreeth hit Natale at half court, but Natale’s pass to a streaking Sulda was stolen by Tyler Miller.

“We had a nice play and Keith caught it,” Sulda said. “Tyler made a nice defensive play. They played well on defense.”

Natale added eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Sulda had 15 points, while McMahon had eight points, six steals and four assists.

Mike Moran can be reached at mmoran@gazettenet.com. Follow on Twitter @mikemoranDHG.

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