The Mounties pulled out a 45-35 win over Wahconah on Tuesday.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- There's a funny thing about composure. When a person needs it the most is often the time it's most hard to come by.
Fortunately for the Mount Greylock boys' basketball team, the Mounties regained their composure at just the right time in order to pull out a 45-35 home win over Wahconah on Tuesday night.
Greylock had just experienced a nightmare of a third quarter, allowing the Warriors to outscore them 18-5 in the frame and seeing their 14-point halftime lead shrink down to just one point heading into the fourth quarter. The Warriors' 18-point outburst in the third quarter was six more points than they scored the entire first half and one more point more than it managed in all of the other three quarters combined.
In addition to seeing their defense cave in, the Mounties also shot 1 of 5 from the free-throw line and were called for two technical fouls in the third quarter. All of these things added up to a big Wahconah run and what looked like to be a tight game down the stretch.
That tight game everyone was expecting never materialized, however, as Bob Thistle's team quickly regained focus at the start of the fourth quarter and went on an 8-0 run to pull comfortably ahead. A runner by senior Nathan Majumder (eight points) with just under three minutes remaining put the finishing touches on the victory for Greylock, which improved to 8-2 this year despite posting a season-low point total on Tuesday.
"I think composure is so important in sports and in life," Thistle said after the game. "We were frustrated and the game got very tight, but I give credit to the kids. We worked on things in practice, and we had a good crowd here tonight. I think they really just came together. Each possession mattered, both on the offensive and defensive end, but the key was we stayed composed and found a way to get on a run.
"I think that was the difference in winning the game."
After going 2-18 last season, Wahconah brought a much improved squad into the Mountie Dome on Tuesday night. Ed Ladley's team came to Williamstown sporting a 7-2 record this year and looked up to the task early on in the game. Sophomore Marco Anastasio scored six of his eight points in the first quarter, keeping the visitors close as both teams tried to navigate through the other's full-court press. Greylock eventually started to find the holes in the Warriors' zone defense, however, and went on an 8-0 run to end the first quarter, giving the hosts a 17-8 lead.
"We really wanted to get out and run against this team," Mounties senior Brett McCormack said. "We knew they were going to bring in their sophomore guards, so we wanted to shut them down. Basically, by shutting them down on defense, that gave us confidence on offense. We had to move the ball around their 2-3 zone. They really pack it in, so we usually try to kick it out and then look inside to the bigs. We moved the ball really well early on."
See more game photos here.
Playing without regular starter Tyrell Thomas, who sat out the first half as a result of a coaches' decision, McCormack paced the Greylock offense with nine points and five boards in the first half. Wahconah center Jordan Fiske couldn't keep himself out of foul trouble, so that allowed McCormack and center Tyler Picard more room to operate down low. The two Mounties played a big part in the victory, each scoring 12 points and combining for 17 rebounds.
It was three-point play by McCormack, who sank a foul-line jumper while being fouled, that set Greylock on its way to opening up a big lead in the second quarter. The Mounties' offense didn't do anything spectacular in the second quarter, but their defense held Wahconah to just two baskets, giving the hosts a commanding 26-12 lead at the break.
"It was a tense game in the first half," Ladley said. "They made us throw some bad passes [in the second quarter]. They handled our press pretty good. I think with their height and how they come down the floor, they can throw the ball across the court on us, and that hurt us."
What hurt Greylock in the third quarter was the emergence of one of those sophomore guards McCormack was talking about. After scoring just two points in the first half, Kevin Boino exploded for 12 of his game-high 16 points in the third quarter. He scored several of his baskets on hustle plays, tipping in two missed shots and scoring off a putback on another. Senior Jon Bracci also drained a pair of threes in the third quarter for Wahconah, which only allowed the hosts to score a total of five points in the third.
"We made a little comeback," Ladley said. "[Boino] is a good kid and, hopefully, he can continue."
Although the Mounties held a 23-10 edge in foul shots, it seemed like all of the fouls went against them at once late in the third quarter. Greylock took offense to a few of the officials calls, and Thomas was whistled for a technical when he slammed the ball onto the court after being whistled for a loose-ball foul. The Mounties junior picked up a second technical a few minutes later when he was whistled for an aggressive charge going to the basket. He was forced to leave the game, much to the chagrin of the Greylock fans.
"I have to give credit to Wahconah," Thistle said. "They're having a great year, and the way they play with their defense gives people fits. They play that diamond half-court press and their 2-3 zone that coach Ladley has been running for many, many years. I think we forced some things in the third quarter, and we turned the ball over. That's a two-way street, though, and that's a good defensive effort by Wahconah.
"But what I was really pleased about was how we responded in the fourth quarter. A couple of things didn't go our way, but the kids didn't look for excuses. We just kept playing two minutes at a time and had a nice fourth quarter."
Majumder and Picard started the fourth by sinking two free throws each. McCormack then hit a baseline runner before fellow senior Hank Barrett capped the 8-0 run with a steal and a lay-up. Once again, the Greylock defense was back on track and held the Warriors to just five points over the final eight minutes of the game.
"We just really wanted to work hard," McCormack said of his team's effort in the fourth quarter. "We had a rusty end to the third quarter with all of the fouls. We were playing down to their level, and we needed to step it up and play our game. We basically came out, got fired up and went out there and did it."
The Mounties will try to remain undefeated in league play on Friday with a home game against Monument Mountain at 7 p.m. Wahconah returns to action on the same night with a road game at Drury at 7:30.