ORANGE – Southwick has reinserted itself back onto the high school boys’ basketball map.
Nick Hough and Hunter Iglesias each scored a team-high 12 points, and the 13th seeded Southwick Rams posted a stunning upset of the tournament’s No. 4 seed, Mahar, 44-36, on the road in a Division 3 boys’ basketball postseason opener Monday night.
Hough scored all 12 of his points in the second half, all on 3-point attempts. Ryan LeClair chipped in nine points for the Rams (11-10).
Southwick made seven second-half threes.
“I hate to say this but that’s what we do,” Southwick coach Dylan Dubuc said. “We shoot a lot of threes – for better or worse. We knew their 2-3 defense was really good, and it would be hard for us to get anything inside. We talked about shooting with confidence … in a tough playoff environment.”
Southwick established a presence early in the game. The Rams, in fact, led 7-4 at the end of the first quarter, thanks in large part to a 3-point shot from Iglesias, two free throws (one each from Iglesias and LeClair), and a breakaway lay-up from Tim McGrath in the closing seconds of the quarter.
Mahar (18-3) arrived in the second quarter, seizing the lead from Southwick. The Senators built a seven-point lead before LeClair’s 2-pointer in the final minute of the half brought the Rams within five at the break, 16-11.
Southwick fought back from long range in the second half with some effective screens near the perimeter, and a solid transition game that freed the shooters up outside.
Hough’s first 3-point shot in the third quarter cut Southwick’s deficit to four. His second and third shots from beyond the arc brought the Rams within three each time. His fourth tied the game at 23-all with 3:23 remaining in the quarter.
Mahar surged back ahead with two free throws and a strong low post move from Isaak Reinikainen (7 points). LeClair brought Southwick within two, and Iglesias made a near-impossible fadeway jumper at the buzzer to force a 27-27 tie.
Southwick kept the pedal to the metal. Hough and Iglesias drained back-to-back 3s to take a 33-27 lead early in the fourth quarter. Strain made consecutive shots in the low post to put the Rams up 37-30 midway through the final quarter. Another trey, this time from Matt Daley, with 3:19 remaining made it 40-30 and proved to be the final dagger.
While it was the program’s first tournament game in six years, it was also the team’s first postseason victory in nearly a decade.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Hough, who appeared to have even stunned himself. “I’m at a loss for words.”
Hough did admit that his team’s ability to stay within the framework of the game plan for 32 minutes contributed to the overall success.
Here’s hoping that Southwick has time for more.
Bombers take care of business
No. 8 Westfield 62, No. 9 Agawam 59
Rodney Bernard scored a team-high 21 points, Javi Santos recorded a triple-double (17 points, 15 rebounds, 12 blocks), and Gabe Piepergerdes and Aidan Dunn delivered a great defensive effort to lead Westfield past visiting Agawam at home in the opening round of the West Division 1 boys’ basketball tournament. Scott Walsh also had a couple key rebounds for the Bombers, who were rewarded with a trip to Springfield to face the top-seeded Central Golden Eagles.
Agawam’s Meesha Ohradka scored a game-high 35 points, including his career 1000th. The next highest Brownies’ scorer had just six.
It was also Westfield basketball’s first tournament victory in recent memory.