Class C finals: No. 3 Granby unable to get going offensively, falls to No. 1 Mahar (PHOTOS)

Granby’s Gavier Fernandez (5) drives through the lane past Mahar’s Morgan Softic (2) in the fourth quarter of the Western Mass. Class C boys basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

Granby’s Gavier Fernandez (5) drives through the lane past Mahar’s Morgan Softic (2) in the fourth quarter of the Western Mass. Class C boys basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Granby’s Gavier Fernandez (5) puts in a layup against Mahar in the fourth quarter of the Western Mass. Class C boys basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

Granby’s Gavier Fernandez (5) puts in a layup against Mahar in the fourth quarter of the Western Mass. Class C boys basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Granby’s Cody White (23) goes up for a breakaway layup against Mahar in the third quarter of the Western Mass. Class C boys basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

Granby’s Cody White (23) goes up for a breakaway layup against Mahar in the third quarter of the Western Mass. Class C boys basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Granby’s Cody White (23) drives to the hoop between Mahar defenders Jayden Delgado (22) and William Barnes (23) in the third quarter of the Western Mass. Class C boys basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

Granby’s Cody White (23) drives to the hoop between Mahar defenders Jayden Delgado (22) and William Barnes (23) in the third quarter of the Western Mass. Class C boys basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Granby’s Colin Murdock (4) dishes a past to Cody White (23) past Mahar’s Lucas Isrow (4) in the third quarter of the Western Mass. Class C boys basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

Granby’s Colin Murdock (4) dishes a past to Cody White (23) past Mahar’s Lucas Isrow (4) in the third quarter of the Western Mass. Class C boys basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Granby’s Gavier Fernandez (5) drives the ball against Mahar in the third quarter of the Western Mass. Class C boys basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

Granby’s Gavier Fernandez (5) drives the ball against Mahar in the third quarter of the Western Mass. Class C boys basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Granby’s Gavier Fernandez (5) drives in for a layup against Mahar in the third quarter of the Western Mass. Class C boys basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

Granby’s Gavier Fernandez (5) drives in for a layup against Mahar in the third quarter of the Western Mass. Class C boys basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Granby’s Riley Goodhind (1) pulls down a rebound against Mahar in the second quarter of the Western Mass. Class C boys basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

Granby’s Riley Goodhind (1) pulls down a rebound against Mahar in the second quarter of the Western Mass. Class C boys basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer

Published: 02-24-2024 8:58 PM

HOLYOKE — Baskets were hard to come by in the Western Mass. Class C championship game between top-seeded Mahar and the No. 3 Granby boys basketball team on Saturday. 

The Rams held the Senators to just seven points in the second quarter but conversely only scored four points themselves, with Mahar leading 16-14 at the intermission. 

Granby scored the opening five points of the second half to take a 19-16 lead but the Mahar defense locked in from there, not allowing the Rams to score another point the rest of the quarter. 

The Senators offense found a rhythm, going on a 12-0 run to close out the quarter and extending it to an 18-4 run midway through the fourth to take a 34-23 lead. Granby was unable to truly cut into the deficit the rest of the way, as Mahar took home the championship with a 47-34 victory at Holyoke Community College. 

“We’ve had a good year and have improved since day one,” Rams coach Dylan Dubuc said. “We just came up short. We didn’t have enough tonight and it’s unfortunate.” 

Granby (15-6) was held to just those five points in the third quarter and with three minutes to go in the fourth, had been limited to eight total points in the second half. 

Dubuc credited Mahar’s size — Will Barnes, Jayden Delgado and Marshall Ames — for consistently making it challenging to finish around the rim. 

“They pack it in really well,” Dubuc said. “It’s what makes it hard to drive. They have three bigs back there and their length protects the rim. Even if you get a step on the guards, you have to finish over the bigs. They’re a tough group and they play good defense.” 

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Gavier Fernandez and Colin Murdock knocked down 3-pointers in the opening quarter to give Granby a 10-9 lead after eight minutes. 

Morgan Softic converted an and-one and Lucas Isrow got to the rim for Mahar before Murdock made a pair from the line and Cody White scored for the Rams. Lian Lopez-Baez hit a runner in the lane to give the Senators their 16-14 lead at the break. 

With players like Isrow and Ames on the bench for the majority of the second quarter, Mahar had no problem draining the shot clock offensively and setting itself up for a big second half when the reinforcements arrived. 

Fernandez opened the second half with a 3 and a tough shot in the paint to give Granby a 19-16 lead early in the third. 

Isrow got Mahar going offensively with back-to-back baskets, Softic made one from the line, Barnes made a pair of free throws, Isrow scored another tough basket in the paint, Delgado made a free throw and Ames made a basket inside while fouled and suddenly Mahar held a 28-19 lead going into the fourth quarter. 

It was Morgan Softic’s turn to get going in the fourth. He scored eight of his team-high 13 points in the final frame, six of those coming at the free throw line. 

Softic used his ball handling skills to get the Sens out of trouble and drain clock late to come away with the victory. 

“We just had to make some plays,” Mahar coach Chad Softic said. “We had to get to halftime with the foul trouble we were in. I wanted to take the air out of the basketball. Lucas made some big shots, Morgan made some big plays. Our backcourt came alive in the second half and did a good job of controlling the basketball.” 

That’s not to say the Rams didn’t make it interesting at times in the fourth. 

Riley Goodhind got a basket to open the frame and Fernandez got a basket with just under six minutes to go that cut the lead to 30-23. 

Softic got in the paint for two, knocked down a pair from the line and after a Fernandez basket, added another two points from the charity stripe to put Mahar up, 36-25, with just under four minutes to play. 

Murdock cut the lead to 38-29 but Isrow scored with two minutes to go before Softic, Isrow and Barnes closed out the game by making their free throw to give the Senators the Class C title. 

Isrow scored 12 points, Barnes tallied nine points, Delgado finished with five points while Ames and Lopez-Baez each had four points in the win. 

Fernandez finished with 19 points, Murdock scored nine points and White added four points in the loss for Granby. 

The good news for the Rams? The season isn’t over yet. 

Granby will look to make a run at the MIAA Div. 5 state title now, as the tourney kicks off this week. The Rams enter as the No. 9 seed and await the winner of No. 24 Avon and No. 41 Atlantis Charter in the Round of 32.

“We have to light a little fire under these guys,” Dubuc said. “That’s the cool thing about this structure. You set out to win Western Mass., we come up a little short but it’s not over yet. We have to decide if we want to feel bad about ourselves or if we want to get back to work, fight, win some games and surprise some teams.”