Mounties Blow by Rams with Big 3rd QuarterWILLIAMSTOWN, Mass — The Mount Greylock boys' basketball team has a lot of weapons this year and, sometimes, all of the Mounties' guns go off at once.
It happened last week when Greylock busted out for 33 points in the fourth quarter to rally from eight points back to beat Lee. It happened once again on Tuesday night, when the Mounties quickly erased a one-point halftime deficit by ripping off 25 points in third quarter against Granby. Greylock opened a nine-point lead by the end of the quarter and never looked back, pulling away for a 58-44 home win over the Rams in the first round of the Division 3 Western Mass. tournament.
"Shots weren't falling [in the first half], and that's basketball," Mounties head coach Bob Thistle said. "But in the second half, we really made it a priority to get the ball into the paint and play the in-and-out game. We felt like we did a better job and certainly Tyrell [Thomas] stepped it up and took the team on his back in the second half."
Thomas scored 13 of his game-high 20 points after the break, but he wasn't the only Greylock players to raise their game after halftime. Junior center Tyler Picard played a big role in helping the seventh-seeded Mounties (16-5) get out in front, scoring three straight baskets early in the third quarter to spark the hosts on a 9-2 run to start the second half. Picard had a few nice assists in the first half, but was held scoreless by a shorter Granby frontline. He got a little more aggressive after the break, though, first hitting a baseline turnaround shot before Thomas found him down low for an easy lay in. Picard then showcased his low post moves on the next play, shaking off two Rams' defenders with a nice up-and-under move to give Greylock a 27-21 lead.
"We got the ball into Pic in the first half, but he didn't take great, high-percentage shots," Thistle said.
Picard stepped up his game in the second half, however, finishing with nine points to along with a team-high nine rebounds, four assists and four blocks.
"I don't think they took but one uncontested shot in the third quarter," Granby head coach Tim Sheehan said. "We were right there with them. They pounded it inside to Picard and got it into him. In the first half, I thought he struggled. I think he thought we were going to double him, but we wanted him to beat us. Unfortunately for us, we did a good job of stopping him, but he made some kick-out passes where guys knocked down a couple of threes. From everything I've seen on these guys, when they hit the three they're pretty tough to beat."
The Mounties hit six threes on Tuesday night, including three big ones in the third quarter. Junior guard Nathan Majumder hit the first one from the left corner right after he scored on a runner for the first basket of the second half. Like Picard, Majumder was another player who had some big moments in the critical third quarter. He book ended his strong start with an even better finish, hitting another runner before scoring off a putback to give his team a six-point advantage. Thomas then closed out the third quarter with one his three treys on the night, swishing a shot from the left wing to give the hosts a 43-34 edge with eight minutes remaining.
"Nathan does a nice job, especially cutting off of the weak side," Thistle said. "He's able to slash and cut. You know he's got that soccer player's mentality, and he gets to the hole well. He had a big game for us tonight."
Thomas picked up where he left off at the start of the fourth quarter and really seemed to wear the Rams' defense down as the game went along. He started the quarter off by grabbing one of his three steals and scoring on the other end. He added another lay-up a few minutes later and kept the pressure on by making another steal to set up fellow guard Hank Barrett (11 points) with an easy lay in. Overall, Thomas either scored or assisted on 10 of Greylock's 15 fourth-quarter points.
"They were backing off of me, so I was able to hit a few threes," Thomas said. "When they started playing me too close, I knew I could get by them, so I did that, too."
"We just came out and executed our plays," he said of his team's effort in the second half. "We let the game come to us, and we didn't try to force anything. We just played our game, left it all out on the floor and came out with the win."
The 10th-seeded Rams (14-7) kept the game within single digits for a majority of the fourth quarter until Picard put the game on ice with 2:41 left on the clock. He pulled down an offensive rebound and was fouled while scoring on the putback. When he finished off the old-fashioned 3-point play, the hosts had a comfortable 14-point lead. Thomas and Aaron Gaj (12 points, eight rebounds) traded 3-pointers in the final couple of minutes, but Granby didn't have enough juice left to make one last desperate run.
"One of the things we try to do all year long is we condition and run in practice," Thistle said. "We put a press on as much as we can. Sometimes it's a soft press. We're not looking to trap so much. We just want to try and slow the team down and make them work hard. A lot of times we find that by the fourth quarter, we have a tired team that we're playing against. It's the little subtle pressure all throughout the game that wears teams down."
Sheehan would probably agree with that assessment. After watching his team get off to a hot shooting start, the Rams slowly faded in the second half. Corey Baker and Andy Gifford (eight points) combined to make five 3-pointers in the first half, but didn't hit another one after the break. Baker hit three triples and netted 11 of his team-high 15 points in the first half, when the visitors made their first five field goals from behind the arc. In fact, Granby scored just two free throws and didn't get a two-point basket until their final score of the second quarter.
"They came out in that extended 3-2 and really that's what they gave us," Sheehan said of his team's five 3-pointers in the first half. "We shoot what they gave us, and we were fortunate enough to hit some. We went a stretch where we didn't make them, though, and we could have separated ourselves from them a little bit in the first half. I think they wore us down a little bit. We got a little tired in the second half but, overall, they're a good team."
"But they got their work cut out for them with New Leadership. I can tell you that."
After finishing the season 4-16 last year and celebrating their first tournament victory since the 2004 season, Thistle and the Mounties are happy to face any challenges that come their way. They'll face one of their biggest ones of the season on Friday night, when they play at the second-seeded Wildcats at 7 p.m.
"We're excited about whoever we play," Thistle said not yet knowing that New Leadership had defeated Pathfinder in their first-round game on Tuesday night. "We have a chance, if we're successful in that game, to get to the Cage, and that's all we want. We know New Leadership is good. I got to see them play at the Boys' Club against St. Joe's, and they beat them by one. We know they're very athletic, but we're thrilled for the opportunity to get to play in that game."
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