Mazza, McCann Tech Roar Past Tigers, into State Tourney

By Stephen Sports
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – The McCann Tech boys basketball team punched its ticket for the state tournament by punching out Westfield Tech with a 16-0 fourth quarter run in a 57-43 Senior Night win.
Walter Mazza scored 23 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter, as the Hornets improved to 10-8 with two games left in the regular season.
“Walter’s amazing,” McCann Tech coach Chris Bullett said. “He’s really starting to find something the last couple of weeks.
“He’s always been our glue guy, our do-it-all guy, the hard work guy. Now, he’s figuring out that he can score, too. So it’s pretty exciting to see where he can go.”
The Hornets trailed by nine in the first quarter and played uphill most of the game.
It was a seven-point Westfield Tech lead midway through the third quarter before the Hornets used a 7-0 spurt to tie it.
Senior Colby Marko (11 points) got things started with a basket in the post. Then Marko got to the line on a drive to the basket and hit one free throw to make it 32-28.
With 2 minutes, 22 seconds left in the third, Jacob Howland (nine points) drove the lane for a basket to get the Hornets within two, and after a defensive rebound by Hayden Boucher got the ball back for McCann Tech, Boucher scored in the post to tie it at 32-32.
Marko scored with 48 seconds left to tie it again at 34-34, and Boucher stole the ball with 19 seconds left to help keep it deadlocked going to the fourth.
“He stepped up,” Bullett said of Boucher, who had three rebounds in the second half. “Everyone on the team has stepped up this year at different times. I’m just proud of all these guys. Hayden, especially tonight gave us the minutes that we needed and was solid the whole time.”
The Tigers took their last lead early in the fourth quarter when Decarlo Lincoln (team-high 21 points) scored to make it 36-34, Westfield Tech.
From then on, it was all Hornets.
Mazza scored on a baseline inbounds play to tie the game and start the knockout 16-0 run.
Eric Rougeau hit a 3-pointer from the right-wing corner to give McCann Tech the lead for good at 39-36 with 4:48 left to play. Howland scored five straight, and Mazza scored the next six, ending the run with a drive to the basket with about 2:30 left to play to make it 50-36.
The Tigers clawed back to within eight with less than two minutes to play, but the Hornets finished on a 6-0 run — all from Mazza – to ice it.
“It was just putting in 100 percent effort,” Marko said of the Hornets’ fourth-quarter performance. “I think we did a great job of executing what the coaches said.
“We couldn’t have played that any better. We started off a little bit rocky going into it, but we ended up pulling out the win.”
Bullett, who said he was very concerned about his team coming off Thursday's long road trip to Palmer to play Pathfinder, said the raucous crowd in the Hornets’ Hive was a factor.
“We didn’t handle [back-to-backs] well last week,” he said. “We had back-to-back road games last week. And we came out flat.
“I knew this place would help us out a lot. We had Senior Night. We have some great seniors on this team – Jordan Greenbush, Colby Marko and Owen Demers. Just great kids. You see the support they get from the school. I think that helped us get the energy we needed.”
McCann Tech has at least two games left before the state tournament depending on what happens with the Western Mass regional tournament that is set to begin on Feb. 20. Even if the Hornets do not get a bid to Western Mass, they will get two games to fill out their 20-game schedule.
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