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Recap for the game: Monument Mountain vs Wahconah on Feb 20

Keefner Helps Lift Spartans to Tourney Win at Wahconah

By Stephen Dravis Sports
12:47AM / Tuesday, February 21, 2023

DALTON, Mass. – On a team with three players averaging in double figures, it can be hard to get noticed.
After Monument Mountain’s tournament win at Wahconah on Monday, all eyes were on Isaiah Keefner.
Keefner scored 15 points, including seven in the fourth quarter, as the Spartans pulled away late to earn a 72-66 win the Western Massachusetts Class B quarter-finals and the rubber match of their three-game series against Wahconah this winter.
“I feel like we just had the best side of it and we kept playing hard throughout the whole game,” Keefner said. “We didn’t let them get in our heads at all.”
Khalil Carlson scored a game-high 25 points, Kyle Wellenkamp scored 15 and Griffin McElroy added 11 for the fifth-seeded Spartans (17-2), who won their eighth straight.
“We scored a lot of points,” Monument Mountain coach Randy Koldys said. “I’m happy with how many points our guys scored tonight. I’m just happy with the effort.
“It was a coming out party for Isaiah Keefner. He’s been playing so well in practice and doing things. And I’m so happy for him to get the opportunity to shine when he had to. And I thought he played great with four fouls on him tonight. We stayed right with him to the end, and it was pretty cool to see him do some really good things to finish off.”
When the teams met in Great Barrington in December, a 74-60 Monument Mountain win, Keefner did not get in the box score. Same deal last month when Wahconah handed the Spartans an 80-64 setback that was the last time Monument Mountain lost.
This time around, Keefner was a factor, and his teammates rewarded him by hoisting him on their shoulders after the game.
“I think that’s what happens this time of year,” Wahconah coach Dustin Belcher said. “You need somebody to step up and play well in the tournament. You need that X factor guy, and he was that guy for them tonight.
“And they have a nice team. This Class B tournament is as good as it gets. [Monument Mountain] has a nice team, and I’m sure they’ll do well in the next round as well.”
The Spartans Wednesday go back on the road in the semi-finals to take on top-seeded Taconic, a 69-28 winner over Mahar on Monday in the only laugher in the eight-team Class B bracket. No. 3 Pittsfield was upset, 60-59, by South Hadley. Second-seeded Springfield International Charter School earned a 66-55 win over Belchertown in the other quarter-final.
Taconic started the week ranked first in Division 5 in the state. Springfield ICS is ranked third in D4, where Wahconah and Monument Mountain are ranked 11th and 13th, respectively. Pittsfield started the week ranked No. 5 in Division 3.
Monument Mountain Monday built a modest six-point lead in the first quarter before Jesse Chapman and Pat McLaughlin (24 points) scored to end the quarter and cut the margin to 17-15.
The Spartans then spent most of the second quarter building the lead back to seven points. But Brody Calvert (19 points) hit both ends of a one-and-one and then hit another free throw 20 seconds later to get the margin down to 31-27 going to the locker room.
Wahconah came out of the break with its best run of the night, outscoring the Spartans 9-2 to start the second half and take a 36-33 lead when Calvert scored in transition two minutes into the third.
After Koldys took a timeout, the Spartans responded.
Carlson scored in the post and Kyle Wellenkamp hit a 3-pointer to retake the lead at 38-36.
The teams then traded blow-for-blow the rest of the way in the third, combining for 20 points in the last four minutes of the quarter. Monument Mountain emerged with a 49-45 lead going to the fourth.
It was a six-point Spartan lead early in the fourth when Monument Mountain finally was able to run out to the game’s first double-digit lead.
Carlson started an 8-2 run with a basket on a feed to the post from Manny Brown. And Keefner scored his team’s next six points to push the margin to 62-52 with fewer than four minutes remaining.
Wahconah stormed back, getting within a point when Calvert drove the baseline in the last minute to cap a 9-2 run.
But Wahconah was forced to foul, and after McElroy missed the back end of his one-and-one with 34.8 seconds left, he chased down his own rebound. Keefner ended up on the line for a one-and-one with 27.9 seconds left, and he made his first shot to push the lead to 69-66.
After a Carlson defensive rebound got Monument the ball back, McElroy made both ends of a one-and-one with 17.5 seconds left, making it a five-point game. Carlson hit a free throw with 10.3 on the clock to provide the final margin.
Belcher said he expected to be matched up against Pittsfield in the teams’ regular season finale later this week, a game where both teams will be looking for momentum going into next week’s state tournaments.
“I think you’ve got to get back on the horse again after a game like this,” Belcher said. “The kids were disappointed, and they should be disappointed. They put a lot of time and effort into it, and you feel the pain for them. But we have a state tournament too look forward to, and we’ll make a run there.”
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