Division 3 boys basketball: Easthampton beats Southwick, 71-57, to head back to Cage

  • Easthampton point guard Sopie Pek leads the Eagles, including guard Zade Jenkins, off the court after they defeated Southwick in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 quarterfinals. Easthampton will play Sabis in the semifinals. —GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI

Sunday, March 04, 2018

EASTHAMPTON — A march to the free-throw line turned into a trip to the Curry Hicks Cage.

The Easthampton boys basketball team shot 41 free throws against Southwick in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 quarterfinals Saturday, making 23 in a 71-57 win.

The second-seeded Eagles advanced to the semifinals, where they’ll play No. 3 Sabis at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Sabis defeated Easthampton, 76-65, during the regular season. It’s Easthampton’s second trip to the Cage in the past three years. The Eagles lost in the first round last season and played in the sectional final in 2016.

In order to set up next week’s rematch with Sabis in Amherst, Easthampton (16-5) had to handle the Rams (15-7) for the second time this year. Easthampton beat Southwick 64-51 during the regular season and established its style early Saturday.

The Eagles pressed and ran from the outset, building a 9-2 lead during the game’s first 2 minutes, 31 seconds after a Southwick assistant coach received a technical foul and Easthampton senior Ant Moynihan made both free throws. They stretched that lead to 16-7 after the first quarter.

Then Southwick started making 3s, and Easthampton missed free throws. The Rams hit two shots from beyond the arc in the second quarter, and the Eagles went 1-for-8 from the line.

“I think we were all nervous with all of the fans and stuff,” Easthampton senior Sopie Pek said.

Southwick took a 23-22 lead into halftime after Joshua Lis hit a leaning jump shot with 6 seconds to the first-half buzzer.

The Rams charged out of the break on a 10-2 run over 1:29 buoyed by two 3s from Connor Roy, taking a 33-24 lead. Easthampton coach Brian Miller called timeout.

“We had a lot of conversations about staying out on 3-pointers. They were doing a good job of getting it inside, so guys were leaving the perimeter,” he said. “We talked about staying out on the perimeter keeping a hand up and not worrying so much about the 2-pointer.”

They also cranked up their defensive pressure and offensive pace. Easthampton lived in transition for most of the game and turned Southwick over enough to get back in the game.

“We’ve been down before,” Pek said. “We weren’t worried.”

The Eagles attacked the rim repeatedly and fed off layups from Pek (16 points) and Darnell Whitley (12 points). Moynihan regained the lead for Easthampton, 38-36, on a 3 with 4:36 left in the third quarter. The teams exchanged shots before Ronan Mottor put the Eagles up for good 40-39 with a coast-to-coast layup 1:06 later.

“If we play our game, we can come back against anyone,” said Moynihan, who finished with a team-high 17 points and 10 made free throws.

The Eagles kept their lead by making their free throws. They hit 19-of-28 after halftime to seal the win.

“We take these free throws every day in practice and we make 80 percent. It’s a confidence thing for them,” Miller said. “Once they made a couple, they started falling.”

Southwick stopped fouling to extend the game with 15 seconds left. Pek dribbled out the game’s remaining seconds, taking a short victory lap around Easthampton’s court for the last time. Once the buzzer sounded, he led the Eagles in the postgame handshake line focused on the next step.

“It’s going to be a really fun game,” Moynihan said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.

Easthampton 71, Southwick 57

Southwick (15-7)

Scharmonn 4-6-15, Parrow 2-0-4, St. Rain 2-1-5, Lis 1-0-2, Iglesias 5-0-14, Roy 4-2-13, Clarke 2-0-4. Totals 20-9-57

Easthampton (16-5)

Pek 4-8-16, Mottor 5-1-12, Caires 2-0-5, Whitley 4-4-12, Moynihan 3-10, 17, Jenkins 3-0-7, Baics 1-0-2. Totals 22-23-71













3-Pointers—Southwick 8 (Scharmonn, Iglesias 4, Roy 3), Easthampton 4 (Mottor, Moynihan, Jenkins, Caires)