Benzinger Comes Up Big for Mount Greylock Boys
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Jake Benzinger scored just two points in the decisive third quarter for the Mount Greylock boys basketball team on Friday night.
But his presence was much greater than that.
Benzinger grabbed 19 rebounds, blocked four shots and scored 11 points to lead the Mounties to a 61-52 win over Drury in the Mountie Dome.
Mount Greylock (5-0) trailed by seven at half-time but outscored the Blue Devils by a margin of 23-10 in the third to take control of the game.
Emmett Shepard (11 points) had two of the Mounties' five 3-pointers in the third quarter and was quick to give credit to Benzinger -- one of just two Mounties to play significant minutes and not hit a triple in the game.
"We were down by seven at the half, and we wanted to come out and get a quick 3 and get the crowd back into it because there were a lot of Drury fans here tonight," Shepard said. "When they would double down on Jake in the post, those corners are going to be wide open."
Taylor Carlough hit a 3 to start the onslaught and kickstart an 18-4 Mount Greylock run. Ian Brink (nine points) hit a pair of free throws and a 3 to get the Mounties within one, 34-33.
And after Doug Sigsbury (12 points) scored in the post to get Drury's lead back to three, Shepard tied it from the left wing corner.
Patrick Storie's 3 gave Mount Greylock a 39-36 lead it never lost, and Michael McCormack (team-high 12) and Benzinger scored to close the run.
Benzinger's bucket in the post on an entry pass from Eric Hirsch was one of several instances where the Mount Greylock big man displayed improved touch around the basket.
"It was a good day today, and hopefully the future will hold good things," Benzinger said. "Coach [Dave] Hadley, our bigs coach, has been working a lot with me, working with the medicine ball, stuff like that to help me start getting better in the post.
Mount Greylock head coach Bob Thistle said Benzinger, a senior, may have had one of the best games of his career.
"We saw him want the ball more, we saw him angle up a little better, and we saw him finish," Thistle said.
"I've got a great problem. I've probably got six guys who can start, and I know I'm not allowed to do that. But nobody has any airs about them. Nobody is upset if they don't start. Jake knew his role tonight, which was to come out and play with great emotion two or three minutes into the game, and he did that.
"He's a big factor defensively, but when he can finish, it's a whole different ballgame, and he's getting there."
Drury (4-1) got a big game from Nick Trombley (game-high 16 points and five assists) and a big first half from Kareen Beckett, who grabbed nine first-half rebounds to go along with two points, an assist and a steal.
Trombley drove the lane for a bucket and hit a pair of foul shots on Drury's first two possessions of the second quarter to give the Devils a 24-14 lead.
Benzinger then scored three on back-to-back trips with a free thrown and a putback to get the lead down to seven points, and that is where it was, 30-23, at half-time.
Mount Greylock went into the locker room with modest edge in rebounding, 24-20. It finished with a 47-37 edge in that department.
"That's due to our big fella, our 6-8, 270 guy," Shepard said, referring to Benzinger, who had 11 second-half rebounds. "But he wasn't in for a lot of the time, so me, Brink and McCormack stepped up, and even Taylor [Carlough] had a few rebounds."
Benzinger started the second half with a pair of fouls and ended up fouling out of the game with 2 minutes, 21 seconds on the clock and Drury at the line with a chance to make it a six-point game.
The Blue Devils made just one of their foul shots that trip and ended up missing eight of 10 at the line down the stretch to allow Mount Greylock to keep them at arms' length.
The Mounties scored their last points with 1:38 left when Brink set up Shepard for a 3-pointer that made it 62-51. Drury went 1-for-8 at the line in the final minute to finish the scoring.
Drury will look to get back in the win column on Monday when it hosts St. Joseph. Mount Greylock travels to Hoosac Valley on Monday night.