Boys basketball: Amherst hands Holyoke 1st loss

  • Holyoke’s Davion Diaz drives to the basket against Amherst’s Sam Kolman on Monday in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Amherst’s Spencer Waite lofts a floater defended by H9olyoke’s Jael Cabrera on Monday in Amhers STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI—

  • Holyoke’s Lordi Smith grabs a rebound against Amherst on Monday in Amh STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Holyoke’s Jael Cabrera snatches a steal against Amherst on Monday in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Amherst’s Isa Castro-McCauley blocks Holyoke’s Lordi Smith on Monday in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Amherst’s Isa Castro-McCauley shoots a fadeaway jumper against Holyoke on Monday in Amherst. The host Hurricanes won 60-45. Full coverage and additional photos at gazettenet.com/sports. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Amherst’s Ryder Rietkierk, left, shoots a jumper against H0lyoke on Monday in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 1/17/2022 11:11:44 PM
Modified: 1/17/2022 11:10:39 PM

AMHERST – Each half started with an Amherst run, and the Hurricanes boys basketball team bested Holyoke 60-45 in an independent contest Monday night.

The Canes have won six games in a row after an 0-2 start and handed the Purple Knights their first loss of the season.

Amherst jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the first quarter aided by Holyoke point guard Jael Cabrera picking up two fouls in the game’s first 43 seconds. The Hurricanes held an 8-6 lead after one, and Roel Figueroa scored all six Holyoke points. He finished with a game-high 23.

Point guard Zayd Sadiq checked in for the first time all season with 3:32 remaining in the first quarter. He tore his ACL last season and also missed his senior year of football. Sadiq was Amherst’s leading scorer for the last two seasons. He scored four points against the Purple Knights in his return.

“We’ve been talking about how we wanted to excel and having [Sadiq] come back into the team rather than saving us,” Amherst’s Evan Stewart said. “It’s nice to be able to have a winning streak and have him come back to make us even stronger.”

Cabrera re-entered the game 58 seconds into the second quarter. Within 30 seconds of checking in, he intercepted an Amherst pass and raced up the court for a layup like a pick six. That brought Holyoke within two points with 6:28 to halftime. Then Figueroa gave the Purple Knights their first lead 11-10 with 5:35 left in the half. 

Amherst’s Isa Castro McCauley sank three free throws in the next minute to put the Hurricanes ahead 13-11, but Niko Consedine responded with another 3 that restored the Knights’ advantage 14-13.

Then Sam Kolman, who scored 10 points, splashed back to back 3s to restore the Hurricanes lead for good. Figueroa added another triple that made it 19-17, but Holyoke couldn’t pull any closer.

Amherst (6-2) scored the final four points of the first half to lead 23-17 at halftime. Then the Hurricanes opened the second half with a 9-2 spurt that made it 32-20. The lead stretched to 14 with 48 seconds left in the third after Castro-McCauley, who led Amherst with 17 points, hit the second of two 3s.

“Our defense led to offense, we got a lot of steals,” said Stewart, who finished with 11 points for Amherst.

Holyoke (5-1) clawed back in the fourth. Cabrera (12 points) made back to back 3s that cut the lead to 43-39 with 5:15 left.

Then Amherst tore off an 8-2 run to give itself room to breathe.

“We practice keeping each other sharp so we don’t lose focus when things get rough,” Castro-McCauley said. “We just stay locked in and give each other focus.”

Holyoke’s 45 points were a season low. The Purple Knights had scored at least 61 in each of their previous five victories.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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