Wellenkamp Leads Way as Spartans Clinch Tournament Spot
PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Coaches always tell their players not to look too far ahead.
But this time of year, it is only natural for the coaches to think a little about the future.
And despite Wednesday’s 58-47 win over Pittsfield, Monument Mountain coach Randy Koldys knows his team thinks his team cannot afford many more nights like Wednesday if that future is going to be a long one.
“We just don’t understand how to play 32 strong minutes, yet,” Koldys said. “It comes back to haunt us, and we end up chasing a little bit. We have no rhythm, and next thing you know we’re struggling.
“They give me four or five minutes of a good run, but that’s not enough – especially now with tournament time and everything. We just expected to show up and win tonight, and Pittsfield played us hard.”
The Spartans did eventually get the win behind 18 points from Kyle Wellenkamp and 16 from Khalil Carlson.
And the victory ensured that Monument Mountain (10-4) will make it to tournament time after it wraps up its regular season and a likely berth in the Western Mass regional tourney.
Pittsfield (5-10) meanwhile got 12 points from Tobias Gaulden-Wheeler and nine points apiece from Nick Brindle and Carter Mungin but lost for the fourth time in five outings.
The Generals hung tough with Monument Mountain until a 6-0 spurt in the third quarter gave the Spartans some separation, pushing their lead to nine points.
It dipped down as low as seven early in the fourth, but Pittsfield could never get within two possessions the rest of the way.
The Generals grabbed a two-possession lead of their own with a 10-0 run to start the second quarter.
Jake Salvi got things started when he drove the lane and got to the foul line, converting one free throw for the quarter’s first point to make it 13-9.
The Generals then drove to the hoop on their next two possessions, getting baskets from Brindle and Gaulden-Wheeler and prompting Koldys to call timeout to light a fire under his defense with the game tied, 13-13.
But Chase Racine scored in the post, and Gaulden-Wheeler knocked down a triple to put Pittsfield up, 18-13.
Monument Mountain settled down and scored the next 10 to take the lead for good.Wellenkamp discord twice in the run, as did Kenzel Chandler-Ellerbee, who also had an assist on a Carlson bucket in the post.
The Spartans led by three points at half-time.
It was still a three-point margin after Mungin scored in the post to make it 29-26 midway through the third.
But Carlson got to the line and converted a shot to start a 6-0 run that ended with a pair of Wellenkamp free throws that gave Monument Mountain a 35-26 lead.
The Spartans took their first double-digit lead when Caden Gidarakos converted an assist from Carlson just before the end of the quarter to make it 39-28, and the teams traded baskets in a back-and-forth fourth quarter.
One big reason the Spartans were able to hold Pittsfield to 28 points through the first 24 minutes: the Generals had just one 3-pointer in the first three quarters.
Nick Brindle, who had 38 3-pointers in 14 games entering the night, finally connected from beyond the arc in the fourth, one of four Pittsfield 3s in the quarter.
But the Generals could not make any headway in the period because that’s when Monument Mountain’s offense picked up as well.
“I was really surprised we ended up with 60 [points] today,” Koldys said. “I really was. I thought to myself, ‘If we get to 50, I’ll be happy.’
“I felt like we did some good things in the second half offensively. We ran some stuff for Khalil [Carlson], we got some nice shots for him. And we sprinkled the inside-outside game. That’s when we’re good.”
Monument Mountain takes a three-game winning streak into Saturday’s home game against Brattleboro, Vt.
Pittsfield hosts West Springfield on Thursday.