Ware Tops Mount Everett in Season Opener

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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TURNERS FALLS, Mass. – The Ware boys basketball team Thursday closed the game on a 17-2 run to earn a 57-41 win over Mount Everett in the season opener for both squads at the Eagle Holiday Classic at Franklin Tech.
Jack Gaudreau scored 18 points to lead Ware, which never trailed after his bucket in the post midway through the second quarter to take a 16-15 lead.
But while Ware led by 10 at the start of the fourth quarter, Mount Everett made things interesting, scoring nine straight to draw within a point at 40-39 with 5 minutes, 9 seconds remaining.
“We didn’t give up,” Mount Everett coach Jowe Warren. “It’s always tough the first game of the season. We come up here every year. I don’t know if we’re yet to play a good first game of the season up here. We’ve won some, but they’re always close games.
“A couple of newer guys on the team, younger guys filling in some roles. I think we were a little nervous out there. We had a lot of unforced turnovers that hurt us, especially late.”
Mount Everett (0-1), which won the tournament last year, will play in Friday’s consolation game at 3:30 against either St. Mary’s or host Franklin Tech, who met later on Thursday.
Michael Ullrich scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds on Thursday night.
Sean Warren backed him up with nine points, and Darius Taliaferro came off the bench to score six.
After Ullrich hit a 3 to score the game’s first points, Ware scored 11 straight to take its first big lead.
But Mount Everett answered with eight straight in a run that spanned the first and second quarters and ended with a steal and lay-up by Ullrich to make it 11-11.
Moments later, ninth-grader Taliaferro got a steal at one end and a lay-up at the other to give the Eagles their second lead of the game at 15-14.
“Darius, as a freshman, he can handle the ball a little bit,” Jowe Warren said. “I know there will be some things to work out as he’s moving up to the varsity level that he’s got to deal with. But I think he’s going to be really valuable for us this year. Hopefully, him and Guthrie [Davis] can work side-by-side and help each other out at the point a little bit this year.”
Gaudreau’s basket to give Ware a 16-15 lead erased the Eagles’ last lead of the night, and Ware closed the half on a 10-2 run to take a 26-18 lead into the locker room.
Mount Everett came out strong in the third, trimming that deficit in half on a transition lay-up by Taliaferro with about a minute left in the quarter.
But Ware’s Brody Koczur hit a 3 late to push the margin back to eight heading to the final eight minutes of play.
Gaudreau scored the first points of the fourth quarter to give his team a 50-40 lead.
But Brady Carpenter scored to end a 6-0 Ware run, and Mount Everett scored the next seven points – all in transition.
First, Ullrich’s defensive rebound started a fast break that ended in a basket by Taliaferro. Then Ullrich’s steal led to his conventional three-point play. And finally, a steal by Taliaferro produced a transition opportunity for Warren, who scored to make it 40-39.
Coming out of a timeout, Ware settled down and got back-to-back triples from Brady Guimond (12 points) to make it a seven-point margin.
And Ware cranked up the defense, forcing five fourth-quarter turnovers to hold the Eagles to just one basket in the final five minutes.
“It’s one thing when the defense creates a turnover, but we had some just trying to get out in the open and making bad decisions that really hurt us,” Jowe Warren said. “Twenty-three or so turnovers is not going to cut it.
“There were some open spaces that we weren’t flashing too. And either we put the ball down with two guys on us. Too much dribbling. We’ve got to pass through the press. Too much watching and standing around tonight.”
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