Hoosac Boys Hold Off Easthampton to Win Western Mass Crown
AMHERST, Mass. -- Seniors Matt Koperniak and Jameson Coughlan came up the biggest when Hoosac Valley needed them the most.
Coughlan knocked down two foul shots with 8.9 seconds left, and Koperniak blocked a potential game-tying shot in the final seconds to lift the Hurricanes to a 54-51 win over Easthampton in the championship game of the Western Massachusetts Division 3 tournament on Saturday.
Coughlan, who scored a game-high 18 and grabbed 11 second-half rebounds, had a chance at the line when he was fouled grabbing a defensive rebound with 15 seconds left. But his first shot rimmed out, giving the Eagles a chance trailing 52-51.
Hoosac's defense stiffened, and Coughlan got a chance at redemption, this time going to the line for two shots with fewer than nine ticks left.
"I was very mad at myself," Coughlan said of the one-and-one. "I get down on myself pretty easily, but my teammates picked me up. We were still up. [on missing the one-and-one]
"I never would have lived that down if I didn't go back to the line. You've got to hit your free throws."
Hoosac coach Bill Robinson agreed.
"Jameson never would have lived that down," Robinson said. "He would have had that on his shoulders for the rest of his life. He's just a tough kid. He's not going to miss those."
He didn't, and neither did Koperniak miss a chance to come up big on the other end, swatting a 3-ball from the left wing. Easthampton got the rebound, but a desperation heave at the buzzer was well short of the mark.
"We were thinking about fouling, and then we, said, ah, just play it out," Robinson said of the strategy in the timeout before Easthampton's final possession. "If they tie it, they tie it."
For the second year in a row, Hoosac Valley basketball fans pulled off the daily double in Curry Hicks Cage, sending both the boys and girls teams in the state semi-finals as Western Mass champions.
The fifth-seeded Hoosac boys (15-9) knocked off both top-seeded Sabis and second-seeded Easthampton (20-2) in the Division 3 final four.
Avery Hall scored 12 points and passed out a couple of assists. Dhandray Sistrunk had three assists to go along with six rebounds.
Hunter Leveille scored 15 points, and Raphael Coleman added 13 for Easthampton in a back-and-forth contest.
Hoosac led by six points midway through the second quarter, but Easthampton came back to tie it at the break. After a back-and-forth third quarter that saw the teams end up tied, 37-37, Hoosac built a five-point margin early in the fourth.
Hall started the quarter with a basket in transition, and Coughlan scored in the post the next possession to make it 41-37.
After an Easthampton foul shot at the other end, Koperniak set up Coughlan for a bucket to give the 'Canes a five-point margin.
Easthampton fought back and took a 51-50 lead, but Koperniak went to his knees and somehow found Coughlan in the post to set up the go-ahead basket in the final minute.
"What a great game," Robinson said. "What a great high school basketball game. A battle of tempos. We held them to 50 points.
"We had to win a tight game. We weren't going to win a blowout. We're not going to blow them out. They're too good."
Hoosac will play at the DCU Center in Worcester on Tuesday at 4 p.m. after the Hoosac girls play their state semi-final.