Braman's Late 3 Helps Lift Hoosac to Western Mass Semis

By Stephen Sports
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CHESHIRE, Mass. -- Live by the sword. Die by the sword.
The Greenfield High School boys basketball team kept its Division 2 quarter-final upset hopes alive with long-range shooting on Friday night.
But Hoosac Valley's Matt Braman smashed the glass slipper with a 3-pointer to snap a 51-51 tie, and the Hurricanes went on to a 60-53 victory.
The third-seeded 'Canes (15-6) move on to face No. 2 Renaissance (21-0) on Wednesday at 5:30 Tuesday at 4:30 at UMass Amherst's Curry Hicks Cage in the sectional semi-finals. Renaissance stayed unbeaten Friday night with a 76-60 win over Monument Mountain.
It was a bad night overall for Berkshire County teams, as five of the seven on the court saw their seasons come to an end. Only Lenox and Hoosac advanced to Western Mass semis.
For a while on Friday night, it looked like Hoosac's future was very much in doubt.
Greenfield (13-9) used eight 3-point field goals and strong rebounding -- especially in the first half -- to keep it close most of the night.
Hoosac pulled away for  a while at the end of the second quarter, but it was a five-point game after three  and a tie score, 51-51, when Greenfield's Tim Cooley hit the second of a two-shot foul with 3 minutes, 50 seconds left in the fourth.
But after an extended timeout to sort out a possession issue with 2:30 left, the 'Canes got the ball and Sean Ryan-Kut set up Braman (18 points) for a 3-pointer and a lead Hoosac never relinquished.
A Trevor Alibozek rebound got the ball back for the home team, and Matt Koperniak set up Alibozek for a long field goal from the left side to get the lead to five points, 56-51, with 1:30 on the clock.
Soon, Greenfield was forced to start fouling, and after they committed three quick ones to get Hoosac in the bonus, Braman, Alibozek and Koperniak combined to go 4-for-6 at the line down the stretch to put the game away.
Braman said the Hurricanes stepped up the defensive intensity after the Green Wave hit a pair of third-quarter 3s on back-to-back possessions to erase most of a 45-34 Hoosac lead.
"We got a little bit ahead, and I think we saw the nine points and relaxed a little bit on defense," Braman said. "There was a timeout. I think their coach called a timeout. So we regrouped in the huddle and told ourselves we needed to dig down deep and play some more defense."
After a 19-point third quarter, Greenfield scored just 13 in the fourth.
Likewise, after out-rebounding Hoosac, 22-17, in the first half, Greenfield got out-rebounded 14-13 after the break.
"The first half, they were killing us," Braman said. "Coach came in and wrote on the board, 'Rebounds.' That was a big point of emphasis for us. We knew we needed to get after it on the glass because they're a hard-working team. [Garrett] Hudson and [Conner] Eckstrom, they're great players down low, and they're big bodies."
One of Hoosac's big bodies, Alibozek, stepped up in a big way with seven second-half rebounds.
"He did a great job," Braman said. "Late in the season, especially, he's stepped up in the second-half huge. He's been awesome for us, and for him to hit that big shot when we were up three late, that was huge."
Hoosac coach Bill Robinson said the 'Canes will need the same kind of production on Wednesday evening.
"He played a little bit tougher tonight, and he's going to have to really grow up next week when we play Renaissance because they have some real men," Robinson said. "We'll have our hands full with them."
Alibozek scored 12 points (10 in the second half) to go along with nine rebounds. Sophomore Jameson Coughlan scored 15 and grabbed 11 rebounds.
For Greenfield, Robin Marchese scored 21 points, and Eckstrom scored 14 with 17 rebounds (12 in the first half).
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