Hoosac Valley Boys Hold on to Beat Mounties in Quarters

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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CHESHIRE, Mass. -- The Hoosac Valley boys basketball team got enough first-half offense from Jameson Coughlan to build a big lead and played enough defense to hang on for a 52-48 win over Mount Greylock on Thursday in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 quarter-finals.
Coughlan scored 14 of his game-high 20 points in the first half to help the Hurricanes lead by 10 at half-time. But Ian Brink scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half to help the Mounties twice rally to nearly erase double-digit leads.
Coughlan scored two big buckets down the stretch, and the Hurricanes made a couple of key stops to survive, advance and set up a third meeting this season against rival Drury -- this time at the Curry Hicks Cage with a berth in the sectional championship game on the line.
"I thought we did a pretty good job defensively the entire night," Hoosac Valley coach Bill Robinson said. "Our game plan was pretty simple. We were going to play [Jake] Benzinger one-on-one with Coughlan in the post and lock down on everyone else on the outside so they couldn't get open looks. And I thought in the first half we did that.
"Second half, they got into a pretty good groove. Brink started driving to the basket ... and he's a senior. They've got a bunch of seniors. We've got a bunch of juniors. Our guys have to learn how to win, and they're starting to."
All those Mount Greylock seniors -- seven to be exact -- battled valiantly to extend their high school basketball careers but could not come all the way back from a five-point first quarter.
"First of all, we give credit to Coach Robinson and Hoosac Valley," Mount Greylock coach Bob Thistle said. "They played a great game, and they'll represent Berkshire County well down at the Cage.
"But I couldn't be prouder of our kids. We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole. I think part of it was Hoosac playing great defense in the first quarter, but we also just missed shots. No excuses, but I think the kids were a little nervous.
"But we never gave up, and I'm really proud of the kids for how hard they worked. They represented our school well."
After Coughlan put back an offensive rebound to make it 33-20 early in the third quarter, Mount Greylock went on an 11-0 run that started with a drive down the lane by Brink and ended with four straight points from the senior: two at the foul line and two more on a putback to make it 33-31 with three minutes left in the third.
Matt Koperniak (11 points) hit a pull-up jumper in the lane to snap the run, and Hoosac rebuilt its lead with a 12-2 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters and ended in a 3-pointer from Avery Hall to make it 45-33.
But Brink responded with a 3-pointer to spark a 9-0 Mount Greylock run. Michael McCormack capped that rally with a triple from the right wing off a crosscourt pass from Taylor Carlough.
The teams then traded baskets, with Colin Rousseau setting up Coughlan for a bucket to make it 50-46 with about 2:30 on the clock.
With 1:22 on the clock, Brink grabbed a defensive rebound and was fouled. Then he went to the line and converted two to get the Mounties back within a bucket, 50-48.
But Austin Milesi drove and dished to Coughlan for two to make it a four-point game with 31 seconds left.
The Mounties were forced to commit four quick fouls to get Hoosac into the bonus, and the 'Canes missed their first front end, giving the Mounties a chance with 20.3 seconds on the clock. But after a timeout, Mount Greylock got a shot in the paint that rimmed out, and Milesi grabbed the rebound.
The Mounties fouled again with 6.4 seconds left, and they got a rebound from another Hoosac miss, but a desperation shot was off target, leaving the final score at 52-48.
Brink had a team-high 11 rebounds to go with his 19 points. Eric Hirsch scored 10, and McCormack scored six points with seven rebounds for the Mounties (12-9).
Coughlan had a game-high 12 rebounds. Koperniak had four assists, and Nate Tomkiewicz scored nine points with five boards for second-seeded Hoosac (14-7), which won its third straight.
"We got contributions from a lot of people tonight," Robinson said. "That's what it takes. You've got to win as a team.
"Greylock played hard. They could have gone away a couple of times, and they didn't. That's what seniors do."
Thistle was sorry to see those seniors go.
"This is a group that's been to the quarter-finals three of the last four years, we went to the Cage three years ago and we came up four points short of going again," he said. "These kids have really changed the culture at Mount Greylock in terms of basketball. They leave a great legacy.
"That's the hardest part of coaching -- having to say goodbye to kids, in the sense that we won't be together the way we have been as a team. But we have great memories, and I think the most important thing about a team is the relationships you build. And I have no doubt we'll keep those going for many years."
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