Division 4 boys basketball: Hopkins Academy faces Monson, aims for third straight WMass championship

  • Jonathan Morrison, left, of Hopkins Academy, reaches for a rebound against Mahar defenders Isaak Reinikainen, front, and Bryce Cleveland, during the regular season at Hopkins Academy. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Sam'i Roe, front, of Hopkins Academy, scores his 996th career point and draws a foul from Isaak Reinikainen, of Mahar, during the regular season at Hopkins Academy. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • John Earle, center, of Hopkins Academy, draws a foul from Trevor Gilmore, left, of Frontier Regional, during the regular season at Hopkins. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

For the Gazette
Published: 3/10/2017 4:49:14 PM

AMHERST — The Western Massachusetts Division 4 Boys Basketball Tournament championship is set, and it features a familiar face.

The No. 1 seed Hopkins Academy (20-2) will play in its third consecutive final at UMass’ Curry Hicks Cage Saturday afternoon. The Golden Hawks tip off against No. 3 Monson (13-10) at 12:30 p.m.

Hopkins is coming off back-to-back double-digit tournament victories over St. Joseph and Turners Falls. Monson, after handily winning its first two playoff games, grinded out a 47-46 semifinal victory over No. 2 Granby on Wednesday night.

“They never give up,” said Hopkins coach Angelo Thomas. “They were down seven with a couple minutes to go, and they just kept playing. They just kept attacking the rim, and they never gave up.”

Hopkins has not faced Monson this season, but the teams had a few common regular-season opponents. The most notable is Palmer (21-1), which will play in the D3 final Saturday. Hopkins went 1-1 against Palmer, with its one victory coming by three points. Monson lost both of its games by double digits.

The Golden Hawks have been one of western Massachusetts’ best teams this season. Led by a strong band of experienced players, point guard Sam’i Roe and the rest of the seniors seek a third championship in as many seasons.

“I expect a lot of energy and a lot of effort on Saturday,” said Thomas. “We need to come out focused … and pay attention to details. We’ll have a scouting report, we’ll have a game plan, and we’ll execute it. This is our third year in a row being in the western Mass. finals, these guys know each other, they know the venue and they know what the magnitude of the game is.”

Roe is a skilled scorer, and arguably one of the area’s best players. He scored 32 points in his team’s semifinals victory without making a 3-pointer. In the quarterfinal against St. Joseph, he scored 28 points, 18 of which came from beyond the arc. Since moving from New Jersey after his freshman year, the son of former UMass star Lou Roe has been essential to the Golden Hawks’ run of success.

“I really think he’s one of the two or three best players in the state,” said Thomas. “Since he came to Hadley, he’s really lifted us up. He’s going for his third straight western Mass. championship, and he’s only been at Hopkins for three years.”

Roe is the centerpiece of Thomas’ offensive machine. When the shifty guard isn’t slicing to the hoop or pulling up from deep, he’s finding juniors John Earle and Jon Morrison, and crashing the offensive glass.

With a chance at a three-peat looming, Thomas was focused on his team’s improvement.

“We’ll make sure we got our defensive rotations, that we’re moving our feet on defense, and that we’re disciplined in everything we do,” said Thomas. “I’m excited for the guys that are coming back, and I’m excited for the seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders who are experiencing their first time up. I love this time of year.”




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