PVIAC basketball: Northampton, South Hadley girls pace Hampshire County contingent as No. 2 seeds

Northampton’s Bri Heafey (5) dribbles up the court on a breakaway against Amherst earlier this season at the Pioneer Valley Tip-Off at the Mullins Center in Amherst.

Northampton’s Bri Heafey (5) dribbles up the court on a breakaway against Amherst earlier this season at the Pioneer Valley Tip-Off at the Mullins Center in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE


Staff Writer

Published: 02-16-2024 5:16 PM

With the final batch of basketball games wrapping up on Friday night, we’re officially marking the end of the regular season. As always on the Friday before the Western Massachusetts basketball tournaments get underway, the PVIAC has released their brackets for the Class A, B, C and D tournaments.

Hampshire County is well represented across all classes on both the boys and girls sides, as a total of 17 teams are set to compete on Monday in the quarterfinal round of their respective brackets. The Northampton (Class A) and South Hadley (Class B) girls’ teams each earned the No. 2 seed – the highest mark of any team on either side – for their terrific regular season records.

On the boys’ side, Granby earned the highest ranking of No. 3 in the Class C tournament after clinching its second consecutive Bi-County League West title.

Check out where each local team stands and who they’re slated to play as the Western Mass. tournament kicks off early next week.

Boys games

Class A

No. 5 Chicopee Comp at No. 4 Holyoke, Monday 6 p.m.

The Purple Knights ended the regular season on a five-game winning streak, peaking at the right time with some big wins over tough league opponents. Holyoke (12-6) hasn’t matched up with Chicopee Comp (14-4) this year, but the two teams split their two meetings a year ago. The Purple Knights hold a 7-3 record on their home floor this season.

No. 7 Northampton at No. 2 Central, Monday 7 p.m.

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This draw is one the Blue Devils are likely excited for. Northampton (9-9) defeated Central 52-49 at home before later falling 57-53 on the road, so although the Golden Eagles (12-4) are a top-two seed, the Blue Devils know they can play their Valley League foe tough. The rubber match should be a fun one between these two high-octane offenses.

No. 8 Amherst at No. 1 Pope Francis, Monday 6:30 p.m.

Just sneaking in as the Class A tournament’s final team after a big win over Minnechaug on Thursday, the Hurricanes (9-9) travel to Springfield for a contest with the top-seeded Cardinals (15-2). Pope Francis took both meetings earlier this season, one by 12 points and the other by eight. Amherst has played teams tough all season, and it won’t be an easy out regardless of its record or seed.

Class B

No. 6 South Hadley at No. 3 Pittsfield, Monday 5:30 p.m.

The Tigers (10-8) edged the Generals (13-5) by one point during the 2022-23 season, but the two teams haven’t met this year. South Hadley comes in having lost four of its last six, but this team is certainly capable of making a run given its offensive firepower. 

No. 8 Belchertown at No. 1 Monument Mountain, Monday 6:30 p.m.

The writing is on the wall for the Orioles (8-10), which head to the Berkshires to take on the undefeated heavyweight Spartans (18-0). Belchertown knows nobody all season has been able to bring down Monument Mountain, but it also knows the Western Mass. tournament is its last basketball of the year, as the Orioles are going to miss out on the Division 3 state tournament unless they win two games in the sectional tourney. If they’re going to go out, expect them to go out swinging.

Class C

No. 6 Palmer at No. 3 Granby, Monday 7 p.m.

The Rams bested the Panthers (10-7) in each of their two meetings this season, but as the saying goes, it’s always tough to beat a team three times. Granby (13-5) does have the coveted home-court advantage on Monday, a place where eight of its 13 victories have come.

Class D

No. 6 Hopkins at No. 3 Duggan, Monday 6 p.m.

While it may have been a down year, at least going off the high Golden Hawks standards of recent years, Hopkins (5-13) has a chance to right the ship in the Western Mass. tournament. A season ago, the Hawks found themselves in the Class D title game, and to take another step toward returning there, they’ll have to beat a 16-2 Duggan team that has been virtually unbeatable at home in 2023-24.

No. 7 Smith Academy at No. 2 Pioneer Valley Regional, Monday 6 p.m.

In order for the Falcons (9-9) to advance to the semifinals, they will have to take down the reigning-champion Panthers (14-4) on their home floor. The two teams met once in the regular season back in December, a game Pioneer won 67-38.

Girls games

Class A

No. 7 Agawam at No. 2 Northampton, Monday 7 p.m.

The Blue Devils are no question peaking at the right time as they embark on their journey to a Class A championship. Winners of five of their last six (only loss to top-seeded Central), Northampton (15-3) will host a team in Agawam (12-6) that it is 5-0 against dating back to 2018, but hasn’t played this year.

No. 6 Holyoke at No. 3 Minnechaug, Monday 6 p.m.

The Purple Knights are likely going to be left out of the Division 2 state tournament, so the Class A tournament is all they’ve got left on tap this season. Holyoke (5-12) takes on a Minnechaug (15-3) team that it lost to 59-16 all the way back on Dec. 15.

Class B

No. 7 Easthampton at No. 2 South Hadley, Monday 6 p.m.

It wouldn’t be fair to say the Tigers (15-3) are playing their best basketball of the season right now, because that’s been the case for the last dozen games. Riding a 12-game winning streak into Monday, South Hadley hosts Easthampton (13-5) in the quarterfinals. The Eagles aren’t a typical seven seed, however, as they’ve earned some tough wins throughout the year. These two teams offer an interesting matchup as they square off for the first time since 2016.

No. 5 Pope Francis at No. 4 Frontier, Monday 6 p.m.

The Redhawks (15-3) will play at Goodnow Gymnasium on Monday, a place they’ve gone 7-2 this year. On top of having home-court advantage, Frontier also enters the game winners of seven of its last eight contests – with the lone loss coming to Lenox. Since 2018, Frontier is 3-0 against Pope Francis.

No. 8 Hampshire at No. 1 Pittsfield, Monday 7:30 p.m.

A tall task awaits the Raiders next week, as they travel to battle the top seed in Class C. Hampshire (8-10) is comfortably in the top 32 in Division 4, so its eyes are likely set on the state tournament – with any win in the Western Mass. tourney an added bonus. Pittsfield (13-5) and Hampshire haven’t met since 2013.

Class D

No. 5 Granby at No. 4 PV Christian, Monday 6 p.m.

A complete transformation from a season ago where they went 3-17, the Rams (10-8) are a top-five seed in Class D. Monday marks the first-ever meeting between the two programs, with Pioneer Valley Christian (16-0) entering undefeated.

No. 7 Hopkins at No. 2 Monson, Monday 5 p.m.

The Golden Hawks sit at No. 33 in the MIAA Division 5 state tournament and currently hold a 2-15 record. In order to sneak into that coveted top 32, Hopkins might have to beat Monson (7-10), or at least win one more game before the final rankings are released. The Mustangs and Golden Hawks haven’t played against each other since 2017.

No. 8 Smith Academy at No. 1 Hoosac Valley, Monday 7:15 p.m.

After winning four of their last five games to end the regular season, the Falcons (10-8) are ready for a postseason run. Smith Academy does have to face the top seed in Class D, but it can at the very least build on the good habits that have been established over the past two weeks as it prepares for the Division 5 state tournament.