Mount Greylock Boys Roll in Opener
McCann was unable to keep pace with the Mounties in the second half.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — McCann Tech boys basketball coach Mike Nykorchuck figured if his team could just get off to a good start in the second half, it had a chance to hang with one of the better teams in Western Massachusetts.
Instead, Mount Greylock showed why it is one of the better basketball teams in Western Mass.
The Mounties scored the first 15 points of the third quarter and used a 23-1 run to open the half and cruise to a 55-26 win over the Hornets on Friday night at the Mountie Dome.
Nathan Majumder led three Mounties in double figures with 14 points, and Tyler Picard had 12 points and 11 rebounds as Mount Greylock opened the season with a convincing win.
For McCann (0-2), it was the second straight night when it was held to fewer than 30 points. This one started off promising, with Justin Cote and T.J. Therrien scoring on back-to-back trips at the end of the first half to cut into a double-digit deficit and send McCann to the locker room down, 28-19.
"For some reason, we seem to execute better at the beginning of the game after we've had a 45-minute talk in the locker room than we do in the second half," Nykorchuck said. "We lost the emotion of the game in the second half, and we have to learn how to execute better and maintain concentration and focus.
"For us to be successful, when you face adversity, you've got to find a way to pick your head up. You can't hang your head low and feel sorry for yourself because that just compounds the issues.
"The first half, we hung with them pretty good. That's a team that's going to contend for Western Mass Division 3 and maybe a state championship, and we went down nine points at half-time. That's a positive. Now we've got to work on playng a second half."
Of course, part of the reason McCann came out flat to start the third quarter was a renewed push by the Mounties on the defensive end.
"At half-time, we talked about how we had to talk a lot on defense," Majumder said. "We have to have our hands up in people's faces, not give anybody any room. And I think that really showed. In the whole second half, they only had six or seven points. That shows we played cutthroat defense.
"I think we would have liked to have scored more, but the defense is what wins games. That was really critical to come out and play hard defense."
It also helped that the Mounties were able to figure out a gimmick defense Nykorchuck installed just for Mount Greylock.
"It took us a little while to adjust to the box-and-one that they ran against Tyrell [Thomas]," Mount Greylock coach Bob Thistle said. "I think the kids regrouped pretty well, and we made some adjustments, and we were fine."
"Tyrell Thomas is a phenomenal player," Nykorchuck said. "I thought Justin Cote, Anthony Duprat and Justin Schneider did a fantastic job on him. He still got his (12) points, but he's one of the top two or three players in the county, and they made life difficult for him.
"We tried throwing [the box-and-one] in in one day. I know coach Thistle is a heck of a coach. I know he's seen us play a few times. So I knew he'd have a game plan. I wanted to have something he hasn't seen yet from us to hopefully screw them up a little bit. And I thought in the first half we hung with them a little bit."
Greylock's big second half run started — as so many things did for the Mounties offensively Friday — with an offensive rebound. Actually, back-to-back caroms by Brett McCormack, who was fouled on his second putback attempt and hit two free throws to give the Mounties a double-digit lead for good.
Majumder scored six during the 15-0 run that made it 43-19 before Chad Raimer's free throw gave the Hornets their first point of the second half.
Mount Greylock responded with eight straight points — the last two on a nifty feed from Thomas to McCormack in the post — to go up 51-20 with 5 minutes, 15 seconds left.
Thistle said afterward he was happy with his team's defense and a 52-30 edge in rebounding, but he the team has plenty to work on going forward.
The Mounties figure to get a boost when senior point guard Hank Barrett returns to the starting lineup. Barrett, who was injured during the football season, played sparingly off the bench on Friday. Thistle said Barrett is fully cleared medically; he just needs to work on his conditioning and finding his touch.
McCann needs to work on its touch as a team. Finishing offensively is a big point of emphasis for a team that has 55 points combined in its first two games and was led Friday night by Therrien with just six.
"We have to execute better," Nykorchuck said. "We don't have as offensively skilled players as some of the other teams, so we have to execute properly. We're working a lot on how to set proper picks, how to use the pick, how to roll. So we have to do the little things to become better.
"We don't shoot the ball too well right now. If we could shoot the ball, we're leading in the first half. We don't shoot too well right now, but we're gonna. As a matter of fact, the next two days of practice, all we're doing is we're shooting. We don't play again until Friday, so that's two days of shooting, shooting, shooting. We'll get there."