NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Mount Greylock boys basketball team got off to a fast start on Thursday night against McCann Tech.
And the Mounties got a head start on their 59-40 win with a preseason date against the Hornets.
"We had a pretty rough game against them in the Mount Greylock Jamboree, and we just decided we needed to stop [Shane] Fuller and we needed to stop [Collin] Racette," Mount Greylock senior tri-captain Cole Jackson said. "We kept throwing different defenses at them, and that kind of confused them, and we just worked our butts off."
The Mounties (1-1) built a 24-4 lead midway through the second quarter and never allowed McCann (0-1) to get the lead under double digits.
Eric Hirsch scored 14 points, and Jake Benzinger had nine points and 14 rebounds to lead the Mounties.
Fuller and Racette combined for 13 points for the Hornets, who got 14 points and three steals from junior Rahmer Vincent.
McCann coach Mike Nykorchuck credited his counterpart with making the necessary adjustments after the teams' scrimmage.
"Believe it or not, we are prepared, but that zone gave us fits," Nykorchuck said. "Every time they went man, we were pretty comfortable. I was kind of hoping they'd stay in man, but we'd score a hoop and they'd go right back to zone, unfortunately.
"Coach [Bob] Thistle does a great job preparing. He's always well prepared."
Although the always dangerous Fuller scored 13, just six of those points came from the floor. Overall, Thistle was satisfied with the way players put the defensive game plan into action.
"We had a diamond and one on Fuller, and then we went a triangle and two when Racette was in the game," Thistle said. "We didn't do that a lot, but Mike's a really good coach and he adjusted to it. We just wanted to throw a little wrinkle in there.
"We put Jack Thistle on [Fuller] to start the game, and he did a really nice job denying him the ball. He face guarded him. And [Thistle] got into foul trouble, but we have three guards we can go to. Taylor Carlough and Eric Hirsch did a really nice job on him. That's what you have to do against a really strong player. You can't have just one guy on him.
"But Jack set the tone, and the other guards followed suit."
Mount Greylock dominated the first quarter, running up a 17-4 lead after eight minutes with contributions from six different players at the offensive end.
Hirsch had a triple and two of his game-high five assists in the first quarter.
"He really did a good job distributing the ball, and what Eric did best tonight was really work on his mental game," Bob Thistle said. "We were just really proud of him and the guys. If things don't go well and you turn the ball over ... He'll gamble a little bit sometimes defensively, and he got that big steal at the end of the game. And then when he gets burned, it's 'Next play.'
"I think he really matured in front of our eyes tonight, and we're expecting big things from him."
Hirsch drove the lane for two to make it 24-4 with 5 minutes, 30 seconds left in the second quarter, but McCann stemmed the tide.
A five-point possession for the Hornets — a Nick Lincoln 3 and a pair of Fuller foul shots — started a 12-6 run to the end of the half that made it 30-16 at intermission.
And McCann opened the second half with a 9-6 run that got the lead down to 11, but Jack Thistle got an offensive rebound on McCann's next trip, and Ian Brink knocked down a 3-pointer to start a 12-2 spurt for the Mounties.
Hirsch capped the run when he stole the ball and got fouled in transition. He converted both tries at the line to make it 48-27 at the end of the third, and Mount Greylock never looked back.
The Mounties can look ahead to a holiday break before traveling back to North Adams to face Drury on Dec. 30. McCann stays in Berkshire County Friday night with a makeup of its opener against Lenox.
Nykorchuck said he was pleased with the way his team rallied after a sluggish start on Thursday, but he was thrilled with the work ethic his team has shown long before it took the floor against Mount Greylock.
"Typically, especially when we play Berkshire County teams, we're going to be undersized and maybe not the most talented team on the floor," Nykorchuck said. "But we scratch and claw. A lot of times we'll be out there with four kids who under 5-7, but they have hearts of giants.
"Even though it was a rough start, I have to say this season has been an absolute joy. The kids are working hard. They're coming to practice doing what they have to do. They worked hard in the off-season and in the pre-season. Tonight was a disappointment, but we're right back at it tomorrow night against Lenox."