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Sixth man Will Halloran sparks Smith Academy with half-court swish

  • Will Halloran of Smith Academy watches his shot from beyond half court that scored at the buzzer in the third quarter against Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Will Halloran of Smith Academy watches his shot from beyond half court that scored at the buzzer in the third quarter against Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Keith Natale of Smith Academy shoots against Devonte Marshall of Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Keith Natale of Smith Academy shoots against Devonte Marshall of Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Will Halloran of Smith Academy, right, shoots against Patrick Straughter of Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage. David Longstreeth looks on, background.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Will Halloran of Smith Academy, right, shoots against Patrick Straughter of Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage. David Longstreeth looks on, background.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • David Longstreeth of Smith Academy, left, begins a pass while defended by Patrick Straughter of Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    David Longstreeth of Smith Academy, left, begins a pass while defended by Patrick Straughter of Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Seaver Rickert of Smith Academy, top, drives to the basket against Patrick Straughter of Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Seaver Rickert of Smith Academy, top, drives to the basket against Patrick Straughter of Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Will Halloran of Smith Academy, left, celebrates his shot from beyond half court that scored at the buzzer in the third quarter Wednesday against  Renaissance with teammates Keith Natale, center, and David Longstreeth Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Will Halloran of Smith Academy, left, celebrates his shot from beyond half court that scored at the buzzer in the third quarter Wednesday against Renaissance with teammates Keith Natale, center, and David Longstreeth Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mat Sulda of Smith Academy, front, runs to a long pass on a breakaway ahead of Patrick Straughter of Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Mat Sulda of Smith Academy, front, runs to a long pass on a breakaway ahead of Patrick Straughter of Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Derek McMahon of Smith Academy, right, shoots against Devonte Marshall of Renaissance, left, Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Derek McMahon of Smith Academy, right, shoots against Devonte Marshall of Renaissance, left, Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mat Sulda of Smith Academy drives to the basket on a breakaway against Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Mat Sulda of Smith Academy drives to the basket on a breakaway against Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mat Sulda of Smith Academy, right, draws a foul from John Togba of Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Mat Sulda of Smith Academy, right, draws a foul from John Togba of Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Smith Academy players Derek McMahon, left, David Longstreeth, third from left, and others celebrate their win against Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage. JERREY ROBERTS

    Smith Academy players Derek McMahon, left, David Longstreeth, third from left, and others celebrate their win against Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage. JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Will Halloran of Smith Academy watches his shot from beyond half court that scored at the buzzer in the third quarter against Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Keith Natale of Smith Academy shoots against Devonte Marshall of Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Will Halloran of Smith Academy, right, shoots against Patrick Straughter of Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage. David Longstreeth looks on, background.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • David Longstreeth of Smith Academy, left, begins a pass while defended by Patrick Straughter of Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Seaver Rickert of Smith Academy, top, drives to the basket against Patrick Straughter of Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Will Halloran of Smith Academy, left, celebrates his shot from beyond half court that scored at the buzzer in the third quarter Wednesday against  Renaissance with teammates Keith Natale, center, and David Longstreeth Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Mat Sulda of Smith Academy, front, runs to a long pass on a breakaway ahead of Patrick Straughter of Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Derek McMahon of Smith Academy, right, shoots against Devonte Marshall of Renaissance, left, Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Mat Sulda of Smith Academy drives to the basket on a breakaway against Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Mat Sulda of Smith Academy, right, draws a foul from John Togba of Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Smith Academy players Derek McMahon, left, David Longstreeth, third from left, and others celebrate their win against Renaissance Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage. JERREY ROBERTS

AMHERST — As the Smith Academy boys basketball team’s sixth man, junior Will Halloran knows a thing or two about providing a spark for his team off the bench.

It just doesn’t normally come in the form of a 55-foot buzzer-beating swish like the one he hit at the end of the third quarter of the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament semifinal against Renaissance on Wednesday.

“I knew I’d be open, and I’ve got a pretty good arm, as you can tell,” said Halloran, who is in his first year with the Falcons. “I got kind of lucky with it, but I’ll take it.”

Smith Academy beat top-seeded Renaissance 57-45 at Curry Hicks Cage to advance to Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. final against St. Joseph. Halloran doesn’t start, but he knows his responsibilities and what he brings to the Falcons’ attack.

That supporting role helped set up the desperation heave that gave Smith Academy a seven-point lead heading into the final quarter against the Phoenix.

The Falcons had just inbounded the ball with 3.5 seconds left following a Renaissance 30-second shot clock violation when Halloran found himself with possession, charging toward half court.

“I told Derek (McMahon) to find the ball because teams like to help off of me because I’m kind of a supporting player on this team,” Halloran said. “I just came to the ball, saw he was in trouble, turned and saw the shot clock at the last second and, kind of in stride, hucked one up there.”

Smith Academy coach Matt Zerneri has been on the other side of those type of shots before and knows how they can affect a team.

“It’s something that, for years, has been going in against us,” he said. “So, to have the luck switch to our side, it makes a huge difference. Just being able to get the shot off and for it to fall, it just pumps everybody up. From there on you think good things are gonna happen for us.”

While it was his long-distance 3-pointer that gave his team a much-needed boost on Wednesday, Halloran is usually helping set the tone in ways other than scoring.

“He’s an energy guy,” Zerneri said. “He works hard, he’s quick. Really, when we sub, we don’t lose anything. It’s OK if someone gets in foul trouble because we know we have someone we can go to.”

Halloran embraces the underdog role of being the first man off the Falcons’ bench and uses it to his advantage. He said it helps him focus his energy and get in the frame of mind of doing whatever necessary to help his team win.

“Defensive pressure, that’s really my mindset,” he said. “I’m not a big ball hawk on the offensive side. I like to think, just get dirty, play hard on defense, hustle and get my open looks and finish when I have the opportunity.”

Zerneri appreciates the pride with which Halloran has embraced his sixth man persona., “It’s not easy to do, you know? A lot of guys, they’re used to starting their whole career, and they’re asked to play off the bench and create energy and he does it right off the bat,” he said.

Related

Falcons’ defense shuts down Renaissance in hoop semifinal

Monday, March 11, 2013

AMHERST — The Smith Academy boys basketball sat in its 2-3 zone for 32 minutes Wednesday night. Renaissance spent the same amount of time attempting to figure it out. Its problem was the clock ran out. The Falcons rode their defense to a 57-45 victory in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament semifinal round at Curry Hicks Cage. The zone …

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