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South Hadley boys basketball loses to Sabis in opener at Spalding Hoophall Classic

  • Anthony Bullough of South Hadley, left, blocks a shot from Nelson Zayas Thursday during the Spalding Hoophall Classic at Springfield College.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Anthony Bullough of South Hadley, left, blocks a shot from Nelson Zayas Thursday during the Spalding Hoophall Classic at Springfield College.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • A rebound escapes a group of South Hadley and Sabis players Thursday during the Spalding Hoophall Classic at Springfield College. Clockwise, from front, are Alon Chappell of Sabis and South Hadley players Cam Earle, Anthony Bullough and Pat Sears. Xavier Garcia, background, looks on.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    A rebound escapes a group of South Hadley and Sabis players Thursday during the Spalding Hoophall Classic at Springfield College. Clockwise, from front, are Alon Chappell of Sabis and South Hadley players Cam Earle, Anthony Bullough and Pat Sears. Xavier Garcia, background, looks on.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Avon White of South Hadley, left, drives to the basket against Jonathan Beadle of Sabis Thursday during the Spalding Hoophall Classic at Springfield College.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Avon White of South Hadley, left, drives to the basket against Jonathan Beadle of Sabis Thursday during the Spalding Hoophall Classic at Springfield College.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Anthony Bullough of South HAdley, center goes to a loose ball between Sabis defenders Xavier Stamp, left, and Jonathan Beadle Thursday during the Spalding Hoophall Classic at Springfield College.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Anthony Bullough of South HAdley, center goes to a loose ball between Sabis defenders Xavier Stamp, left, and Jonathan Beadle Thursday during the Spalding Hoophall Classic at Springfield College.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • T.J. Fitzell of South Hadley, center, drives to the basket between Sabis defenders Colby Ranson, left, Xavier Stamp, right, and Alon Chappell Thursday during the Spalding Hoophall Classic at Springfield College.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    T.J. Fitzell of South Hadley, center, drives to the basket between Sabis defenders Colby Ranson, left, Xavier Stamp, right, and Alon Chappell Thursday during the Spalding Hoophall Classic at Springfield College.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Avon White of South Hadley, right, eyes the basket after getting past Sabis defenders Alon Chappell, left, and Colby Ranson Thursday during the Spalding Hoophall Classic at Springfield College.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Avon White of South Hadley, right, eyes the basket after getting past Sabis defenders Alon Chappell, left, and Colby Ranson Thursday during the Spalding Hoophall Classic at Springfield College.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Anthony Bullough of South Hadley, left, blocks a shot from Nelson Zayas Thursday during the Spalding Hoophall Classic at Springfield College.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • A rebound escapes a group of South Hadley and Sabis players Thursday during the Spalding Hoophall Classic at Springfield College. Clockwise, from front, are Alon Chappell of Sabis and South Hadley players Cam Earle, Anthony Bullough and Pat Sears. Xavier Garcia, background, looks on.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Avon White of South Hadley, left, drives to the basket against Jonathan Beadle of Sabis Thursday during the Spalding Hoophall Classic at Springfield College.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Anthony Bullough of South HAdley, center goes to a loose ball between Sabis defenders Xavier Stamp, left, and Jonathan Beadle Thursday during the Spalding Hoophall Classic at Springfield College.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • T.J. Fitzell of South Hadley, center, drives to the basket between Sabis defenders Colby Ranson, left, Xavier Stamp, right, and Alon Chappell Thursday during the Spalding Hoophall Classic at Springfield College.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Avon White of South Hadley, right, eyes the basket after getting past Sabis defenders Alon Chappell, left, and Colby Ranson Thursday during the Spalding Hoophall Classic at Springfield College.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

SPRINGFIELD — The South Hadley boys basketball team never gave itself a chance Thursday to qualify for the postseason.

Playing in the opening game of the Spalding Hoophall Classic, the Tigers fell behind early to Sabis and struggled in a 67-41 loss at Springfield College.

“It was an extremely disappointing performance,” South Hadley coach Jeff Guiel said. “Monday night (a 48-45 loss to Amherst) was very emotional for everybody. The practices seem like we’ve gotten closer than we ever have before. We just took about five steps back.”

With a mostly Division 1 schedule, South Hadley qualifies for the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament by going at least .500 against its non-Division 1 opponents. The Tigers entered the game with an overall 6-4 record, including 3-0 against non-Division 1 teams, and would have qualified for the tournament with a win over Sabis.

“It was talked about ... to test the whole pressure thing and overcoming that was to play today like it was our last chance to qualify,” Guiel said. “Until we can face the pressure in reality, we’re not going to win Western Mass.”

Cold from the field and careless with the ball, South Hadley struggled in its second game since scoring 99 and 89 points in back-to-back games. The Tigers committed 26 turnovers and shot 36.6 percent from the floor.

“We’re having difficulty handling pressure,” Guiel said. “We try to put pressure on during practice. We just have people that are resisting pressure and pressure is a fact of life and certainly a fact of being on the big stage trying to win championships.”

Tied 11-11 after the first, the Tigers took a 14-11 lead early in the second, but Sabis went on a 12-0 run to lead 23-14 with 2 minutes, 26 seconds left before halftime.

The Bulldogs maintained their edge until a quick 7-0 run by South Hadley pulled the Tigers within 34-29 late in the third.

Avon White scored on a drive, Anthony Bullough scored inside and White converted a three-point play, which prompted Sabis to call a timeout with 2:34 left in the third.

Sabis answered to close the period with a 7-0 run and then carried the momentum into the fourth.

“Give (Sabis) coach (John) Williams credit for keeping his guys together,” Guiel said. “They called timeout and then their big players hit big shots.”

White finished with 14 points and was named player of the game for South Hadley. T.J. Fitzell had six points and 11 rebounds.

Mike Moran can be reached at mmoran@gazetttenet.com.

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