NORTHAMPTON – A history lesson was doled out Thursday night, and Westfield Technical Academy schooled the competition.
The Westfield Tech boys basketball team clinched the Tri-County League for the first time in nearly 15 years with a 58-47 win on the road over Smith Voke Thursday.
“I recall (on the) first … of the year … I said we were going to have a lot of fun,” Westfield Tech coach Kyle Dulude said. “These kids are ecstatic, totally excited right now, a truly special moment for the program. I am so proud of these players.”
Westfield Tech’s Josh Bush went seven-of-10 from the free throw line, finishing with 19 points. Senior captain Andrew Czeremcha finished with 14 points for the Tigers, draining three 3-pointers and converting 3-for-4 from the free throw line.
“I’m just very, very proud of the team and seeing how far we’ve come since last year,” Czeremcha said. “By far, this is the highlight of my high school career. …It feels good to finally be on the top.”
Czeremcha said Thursday night’s victory, and all the ones that came before it this season is a credit to the hard work of everyone on the team.
“Before (this season), we really didn’t click with players all on different grade levels,” Czeremcha said. “Going into this year with eight seniors, we have team chemistry. We’re a lot more confident.”
“We couldn’t have done anything with coach Dulude,” Czeremcha added. “He’s our rock. (Coach) stayed committed to us and led us in the right direction.”
Westfield Tech may have been running in different directions in years past, but there is only one way the Tigers are headed this season and it was on display again Thursday night.
Ruvim Suprunchuk and senior captain Mark Klyuchits each had seven points for Westfield Tech while Kevin and Kenny Flores kept the Smith Voke’s top two scorers in check. Tigers’ Dave Tikhonchuk and Kevin Flores chipped in five points and four points, respectively.
Cody Garwacki came in right before the half to grab five big rebounds off the bench for Westfield Tech, and later provided a quality effort when Bush ran into foul trouble.
“We pushed the floor, never gave up, getting loose balls and kind of went our way,” Klyuchits said. “It feels great to win something I dreamed about for a very long time. … Since freshman year, this was our number one goal.”
Klyuchits said every one of the players on this year’s team has shown “commitment, heart, and a passion to play basketball.”
“We bonded together as a family,” he said.
Klyuchits and Czeremcha, also a four-year varsity player, have embraced the team concept whole-heartedly. Players like Suprunchuk, an all-around leader, and Josh Bush have benefited from their athleticism, which was also on display on the soccer field.
“This is a very special group of kids,” coach Dulude said.
Czermecha said: Right now, we’re enjoying the moment finally. We want to feel what it feels like to be champs for once, but we are also looking to future see how far we can go in the tournament. Winning today gave us a confidence booster, knowing we will face bigger and tougher teams.”
Spartans clip Bombers
East Longmeadow 62, Westfield 61
Westfield rallied from a 36-22 halftime deficit, but just could not get over the hump in the fourth quarter.
East Longmeadow’s Justin Wiggins scored 17 points to lead East Longmeadow.
Aidan Dunn (17 points), Kam Wells (16), and Gabe Santos (16) combined for a whopping 49 points for Westfield.
Mustangs upend Rams
Monson 41, Southwick 36
Monson escaped Southwick with a narrow victory Thursday. Huntger Iglesias led the Rams with nine points.
Mustangs overwhelm Saints
Monson 56, St. Mary’s 6
Sydbue DeVries scored a game-high 10 points, and five others scored six apiece to lead Monson.