Northampton boys basketball returns to court in runaway over Monson

  • Northampton’s Nate Kelleher-Mochak finishes a layup through contact against Monson on Friday in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton’s Jack Kelleher-Mochak helps teammate Kelvin Perez up after Perez finished a strong layup through contact against Monson on Friday in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton’s Kelvin Perez pounds his chest on the ground after finishing a layup strong through contact against Monson on Friday in Northampton.  STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Northampton’s Ben Sledzieski throws a wraparound pass in midair against Monson on Friday in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 1/14/2022 10:25:01 PM
Modified: 1/14/2022 10:24:09 PM

NORTHAMPTON – Ben Sledzieski wondered aloud.

“Does our scoreboard even have triple digits?” he asked his Northampton boys basketball teammates late in a blowout home win over Monson on Friday.

The Blue Devils were stuck on 97 for more than a minute and kept jacking 3s to try and cross the 100-point threshold. The bench (by that point the starters sitting on the bench) and the junior varsity players behind them rose from their seats with every attempt at a triple. They groaned as the last few attempts rimmed out.

“That was pretty much our main goal for the game,” Northampton’s Kelvin Perez said.

Northampton still won 97-19 in its first game since Dec. 28. The Blue Devils weathered both some of their own pauses, pauses by some opponents and a city-wide shutdown of sports in Springfield by the schools that make up a measurable part of their schedule.

“It was terrible. We just wanted to play,” Perez said. “It’s hard having to sit down and not having games or anything.”

The last time Northampton hit the 90s was Jan. 13, 2011, in a win over Commerce.

Calvin Paddock led four Blue Devils in double figures with 19 points. Perez added 17, while Sledzieski scored 12. Jack Kelleher-Mochak had 11. Eleven Northampton players had at least one bucket.

“The one thing that makes me feel good about this game regardless of the score, regardless of anything that happens out there: our guys were playing for each other,” Northampton coach Rey Harp said. “A guy gets a basket, and everybody on the team feels like we got the basket. Guys take some strength from other guys success. That’s the part of this that I thought was a good show for us.”

The Blue Devils’ defense didn’t show any rust. Northampton (5-1) didn’t allow a point for the game’s first 6 minutes, 7 seconds until Monson’s Colin Beaupre made a free throw. The Mustang’s first field goal was an Austin Menchum jumper with 49 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

Northampton led 58-5 at halftime.

“This is a great game that gets us going,” Paddock said. “Just a good warm up.”

The game was a mismatch from the tip, and the Mustangs look odd on the Blue Devils’ schedule next to some of the area’s traditional powers like Central and other large schools like Longmeadow and Holyoke. 

Harp added Monson to the schedule after facing them twice in the teams’ COVID bubble last season. They split the two games, and the Mustangs won on Northampton’s floor. Monson’s best player from that team, Colby Duggan, transferred to Phillips Andover. The Mustangs were also dealing with injuries and absences from their current roster.

“I think their coach does a phenomenal job with that group of guys. We were looking for a game against our bubble. That’s a team I think will be much better,” Harp said. “I knew they were going to be down. I didn’t know they were going to be this down. It’s respect for their program to have it on the list because we slugged it out  with some teams in our bubble last year.”

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

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