Sabis Boys End Hoosac's Run in Western Mass Final
AMHERST, Mass. -- After watching Sabis International beat his team by 15 points in the sectional championship game, Hoosac Valley boys basketball coach Bill Robinson probably had seen all he wanted to see of the Bulldogs.
But in the makeshift media room under the bleachers of UMass Amherst's Curry Hicks Cage, Robinson invited the reporters present to take one last gander.
"Look at them," Robinson said after Sabis captured the boys Division 3 title with a 71-56 win over Hoosac.
"I don't know if they're on the full-season weight plan or not. But I've got skinny kids. They've got kids who are NBA ready.
"It's hard to look across the way and say that's another Division 3 school. You look at teams like Mahar and ourselves and Greenfield and Hampshire. Those are Division 3 schools as far as I'm concerned.
"This is another animal."
Xavier Stamp was an animal on the boards for Sabis (16-7). He grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds to go with 14 points.
The 6-foot-2 forward put his stamp on the game down the stretch with six points -- four on putbacks -- in a 14-5 closing run for Sabis that finally gave it breathing room against a very game Hoosac squad.
Sabis coach John Williams said the Bulldogs came into the game wanting to be aggressive and get its bigs into the game after settling for perimeter shots earlier in the tournament.
"I've been saying this throughout the year: [Stamp] is the 'X' factor," Williams said. "We go where he goes. When he's aggressive and he's going to the basket and he's active, he brings so much to the team."
The other big factor for Sabis was senior guard Nelson Zayas, who hit five first-half 3-pointers on the way to a 24-point performance.
Trevor Alibozek scored 16 points, and Matt Koperniak added 14 for Hoosac (16-7).
The Hurricanes fell behind by as many as 11 early in the second quarter when Zayas knocked down a triple to make it 24-13.
But Hoosac responded with a 6-0 spurt. Jameson Coughlan converted a Sean Ryan-Kut assist in the post, Koperniak put back a rebound and Alibozek had a conventional three-point play to get Hoosac within four with about five minutes left in the half.
Moments later, a 7-0 Hoosac run tied it. This time it was Coughlan with the three-point play in the post and four straight points from Alibozek to make it 28-28.
"Hoosac Valley is very, very good," Williams said. "We're familiar with them because we lost to them last year at home. We know that they keep coming. They're a tough team, tough-minded team with an excellent coach. Their coach is fundamentally sound.
"We knew this wasn't going to be an easy game. We knew it wasn't going to be a runaway game."'
Sabis did manage a 5-0 run to take a 35-30 lead into the locker room.
Hoosac matched the Bulldogs basket for basket in a 16-16 third quarter, but in the fourth Sabis was finally able to get some breathing room.
Dwayne Collins drove the left wing for a bucket to give the Bulldogs a working margin, 57-48, with about 5 minutes, 45 seconds left in the game.
Then after the 'Canes made three foul shots on back-to-back possessions to get within six, Sabis closed out with the 14-5 run to put the game away.
For Sabis, the next stop is the state semi-finals on Wednesday afternoon at Springfield's Mass Mutual Center.
For Hoosac, it was a disappointing end to the year but a strong return to the Western Mass final after not even making the tournament the last couple of years.
"It feels pretty good to finally get here and play at the Cage after three years of pretty much nothing," Hoosac senior Matt Braman said. "It hurts to go out this way as a senior, but to end it here ... I probably wouldn't want to have it end anywhere else."