McGovern Leads Hoosac Valley in 'Marquee Win'

By Stephen Sports
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Hoosac Valley senior Joey McGovern started his day by scoring the first nine points of his game from behind the 3-point arc.
He ended it at center court in Springfield College’s Blake Arena with a Hoophall Classic MVP trophy after leading the Hurricanes to a 68-54 win over Pioneer Valley.
McGovern scored 25 points and passed out four assists as Hoosac Valley improved to 6-1 and handed the Panthers (7-2) just their second loss – both to Berkshire County foes.
Unlike Drury’s three-point win over Pioneer Valley last Thursday, the Hurricanes never trailed in the Hoophall tipoff game and held the lead for good after Qwanell Bradley scored with an assist from McGovern to make it 13-11 late in the first quarter.
Bradley finished with 14 points, one of four Hurricanes in double figures. Trevor Moynihan scored 15, and Frank Field finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
But the win started with McGovern, who hit his first three tries from 3-point land to set the tone and finished just two points behind Panthers’ standout Brayden Thayer for game-high honors.
“It feels great,” McGovern said of the MVP award. “The better feeling was winning today as a team. We came in here, and we did what we knew we needed to do. We had a game plan set.
“Obviously, with the snow days, it was tough to get some practices to prepare for this. So we came in yesterday and worked on defense and just started preparing for today.”
Pioneer Valley, the reigning Western Massachusetts Class D champion and 2023 Division 5 state quarter-finalist, averaged 69 points per game in its 7-0 start before scoring 42 at Drury and 53 against the Hurricanes on Thursday.
“We said yesterday in practice: rebounding, and we have to be focused on defense,” Hoosac Valley coach Bill Robinson said. “[The Panthers] move very well, with the ball and without the ball. And they have ultimate weapons. [Josh] Wood, he can shoot 3s. And [Kurt] Redeker is a good, hard-nosed player who goes to the glass really hard. And Thayer’s their scorer.
“But I think Joey matched him tonight. So they washed each other out. And our supporting cast was a little better tonight. The next time we play them, it could go the other way.”
That game could come as soon as the Western Mass Class D tourney in February.
In Thursday’s independent matchup, McGovern not only kick-started Hoosac Valley’s offense, but he also got a workout at the other end, chasing down Thayer and limiting the damage from the Panthers’ junior.
“[McGovern] wanted that assignment,” Robinson said. “Coming in, I really didn’t know who we were going to guard. I looked at them when we got here and said, ‘What are they feeding these guys?’
“He wanted that assignment. He’s a senior. He’s a captain. You’ve got to take those. You’ve got to take that leadership, and I’m very proud of the way he did that tonight.”
After McGovern’s initial barrage of 3-pointers, Pioneer Valley recovered and tied the game, 11-11.
But Bradley cut to the basket and took a pass from McGovern to get a lay-up to make it 13-11, and Moynihan knocked down a triple to close the quarter with the Hurricanes up by five.
They stretched that lead to 16 at half-time after a second-quarter that saw Field score 10 points and Moynihan add seven.
In the third, Pioneer Valley trimmed the margin to 12 points, but Hoosac Valley opened the fourth quarter on a 9-3 run that was capped by Adan Wicks to make it 54-36.
The margin got as high as 19 when McGovern sank a free throw with 2 minutes, 36 seconds left to play before the Panthers closed on a little run to account for the 14-point final spread.
The win not only gave Hoosac Valley a 6-1 mark on the season, it gave the Hurricanes confidence that they can play with and beat one of the top small-school squads in Western Mass.
“We had the consistent effort through the game,” Robinson said. “We made some mistakes. The pressure got to us at times. But that’s because we haven’t worked on it really. … The good thing about it was, when their heads were up dribbing the ball, they saw open guys in the back.
“We just needed to beat a good team, I thought. You need a marquee win in your program during the year. We’ve got a lot of [chances] coming, but this was a big one.”
Field agreed.
“Even last year, we didn’t have many quality wins,” he said. “We had one at South Hadley, but I think in a lot of big games, we sell ourselves short, and we don’t bring our energy coming in. And don’t perform like we can as a team.
“Today, I think we really brought that energy and really played well together. There’s no selfishness. Nobody cared who scored. We just wanted to score. We wanted to win. That’s what we need to do all year to win a championship.”
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