WESTFIELD – For nearly three quarters, the in-town rivalry game between the Westfield Voc-Tech and St. Mary’s high school boys’ basketball teams was a knockdown, drag-out fight between two Tri-County League foes. And then the Tigers’ exploded.
Voc-Tech went on a 33-8 run over the last 10 minutes to win its first game of the season in resounding fashion Wednesday night, 63-42, at Westfield South Middle School. The Tigers are now 1-4.
“We got the monkey off our back,” Westfield Voc-Tech coach Kyle Dulude said. “Hopefully, now we can relax, settle down, and play the way we can.”
Trailing 30-24 midway through the third quarter, Voc-Tech settled onto the free throw line for four free throws – two each from Logun Vanveldhuizen and Henry Deaza – courtesy of a foul and subsequent technical. The Tigers made six of seven from the stripe to knot the game at 30-30 with 2:57 remaining in the quarter.
St. Mary’s regained a 4-point lead with a Kibbe Bryce putback and Lucas Jez breakaway lay-up. But Voc-Tech responded with a furious rally, applying defensive pressure, forcing turnovers, and dumping the ball in low to the two big men – Vanveldhuizen and Deaza – who finished with 20 and 13 points, respectively.
“I like the way we moved (the ball),” said St. Mary coach Tom Sheridan, “but that half court trap – we had trouble getting around it. …Then they played a box-and-one on us.”
Westfield Voc-Tech held St. Mary to just one field goal in the fourth quarter, a shot from Mike Sheridan (10 points) with 1:26 left.
The Saints’ coach said he counted 28 turnovers made by his team. “That’s the difference. That’s the game,” he said.
Matt Plasse, who knocked down a couple of early 3s, finished with 14 points for St. Mary’s (1-4). Voc-Tech’s Bryan Robles also had 14.
“It was nice to play two games in a row,” said Dulude, whose team had a 21-day layoff around the holidays. “We fed off that. We played hard the whole time out there. Our discipline improved. And we were mentally tougher today.”
Palmer 53, Southwick-Tolland 27
Melissa O’Neill scored a team-high 12 points for Southwick (4-3).
JV GIRLS’ HOOPS
Palmer 29, Southwick-Tolland 14
Southwick’s Jacqui Richard finished with five points.