Western Mass basketball begins with Pioneer Valley Tipoff, as Amherst & Northampton square off

  • Meikyle Murray, left, of Amherst Regional, shoots against Nick Heafey, of Northampton, Monday at Curry Hicks Cage.

  • Tate Rietkerk, left, of Amherst Regional, shoots against Andy Grygorcewicz, of Northampton, Monday at Curry Hicks Cage.

For the Gazette
Thursday, December 07, 2017

AMHERST — Friday marks the start of the seventh annual Pioneer Valley Tip-Off at UMass’ Curry Hicks Cage. The event will take place through Sunday and will consist of 12 games.

There are seven high school boys games and one girls game, then on Sunday there are four prep school boys teams playing.

The event kicks off with Amherst Regional Regional taking on Northampton in boys and girls doubleheader. The girls play first at 6 p.m. with the boys at 7:30 p.m.

The same doubleheader opened the 2016 event. Northampton won the girls game 67-30. Amherst won the boys game, the first of three victories the Hurricanes had over the Blue Devils on the season.

Saturday will feature 10 hours of basketball starting at 11 a.m. with Turner Falls and Mount Greylock. The two teams did not play last season. Turner falls finished last year with a 14-9 record and Mount Greylock 18-6.

The next teams to face at 12:45 p.m. are Groton-Dunstable and Holyoke. Groton-Dunstable finished last season at 18-4 and Holyoke 14-8. Drury and Hopkins Academy tip at 2:30 p.m. Drury finished 18-4 last season, while Hopkins closed 21-3 with a third straight Western Massachusetts Division 4 title.

Westfield and Longmeadow will take the court at 4:15 p.m. After an 11-11 season, Westfield and new coach Josh Balestracci will look to start strong and take down the Lancers, who finished last season 18-5.

Easthampton takes on Hampshire Regional and new coach Lee Mollison at 6. Easthampton won twice last year by an average of 19 points. Granby and South Hadley cap Saturday’s slate at 7:45. The teams met once last year as South Hadley took the win, 60-50.

Prep School Sunday will bring in some of the top talent from Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut. Redemption Christian Academy and The Tilton School tip at 1. The teams played once last season with Redemption Christian winning 81-75.

The next matchup will take place at 2:45 p.m. between Woodstock Academy’s Blue team and Commonwealth Academy of Springfield.

The third game will start at 4:30 p.m. between Deerfield Academy and Hamden Hall Country Day School.

The event will finish at 6 p.m. with a clash between Williston Northampton School and Wilbraham & Monson. The two teams met at the tip-off last year and Williston came out on top 75-68.