Western Mass. Basketball Seedings Released

By Ryan HolmesiBerkshires.com
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With gas prices going higher and higher by the day, local basketball fans might find some comfort in the fact that they won't have to travel far to watch their high school teams in action in the opening rounds of the upcoming Western Massachusetts tournaments this week.

Four North County teams found on Saturday that they will be opening their tournament runs in their own gyms. The Hoosac Valley girls, who are ranked eighth in the Division 2 field, kick off a busy week of action with a home game against No. 9 South Hadley at 7 p.m. on Monday night. . Should the Hurricanes win, they will then move on to play against top-seeded Mahar. The Senators sport the best record in the tournament at 19-1 and sit atop the 11-team field in Division 2.

Drury is also in the mix in D-2, but won't have to play until Thursday courtesy of a No. 3 seed and a first-round bye. The Blue Devils, who have never lost a home game in the tournament under head coach John Franzoni, will host either No. 6 Athol or No. 11 Southwick. Those two squads will square off in Athol on Monday night, with the winner coming to Bucky Bullett Gymnasium at 7 p.m. on Thursday. With normal tournament heavyweights Wahconah and Monument Mountain out of the mix this season, Drury and Hoosac Valley are the only two Berkshire County teams in the Division 2 field this year. They are on the opposite sides of the bracket, though, and wouldn't run into each other until the sectional final if everything goes according to plan.

After going just 4-16 last year, the Mount Greylock boys responded nicely with 15-5 record in the first year playing for new coach Bob Thistle. The Mounties were rewarded with a No. 7 seed in a busy 16-team draw in the Division 3. Greylock will host No. 10 Granby at 7 p.m. on Tuesday night, with the winner moving on to play either No. 2 New Leadership or No. 15 Pathfinder. The McCann Tech boys are also in the mix and, although they're not playing at home, Hornets' fans won't have to travel far to see them in action. McCann was seeded 16th and will open at top-seeded Saint Joseph's on Tuesday night. Other county teams in the the Division 3 field are No. 3 Lee and defending champion Lenox, who was seeded ninth. If both St. Joe's and Lenox win their first-round game, they will meet up in the quarterfinals. Last year, the Millionaires took down the Crusaders in the semifinals on their way to the Western Mass. championship.

With only half the number of teams in the Division 2 boys' field, both Drury and Taconic are automatically placed into the quarterfinals. The Braves, who finished the year at 7-13 and tied for second place in the North Division, only made the postseason because of the Blue Devils' loss to Hoosac Valley in the final game of the regular season. Ironically, No. 5 Taconic now plays at No. 4 Drury in the opening-round game on Friday night. The Blue Devils have already beaten the Braves twice this season, but it's never easy beating the same opponent three times in one season. Last year, Taconic knocked off Hoosac Valley at home in the first round after the Hurricanes' defeated them twice in the regular season. The winner of Friday's game will then face off against No. 1 Mahar or No. 8 Easthampton.

Four other Berkshire County teams are also in the tournament, including South County rivals Lee and Lenox in the Division 3 girls' bracket. The Wildcats, who have won the Western Mass. title the past four years, are the top seed, while the Millionaires aren't far behind at No. 4. If the two teams can win their quarter-final matchups, they will meet in the semifinals at the Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst.

Despite good seasons by both the Pittsfield boys' and girls' teams, the Generals are both seeded at the bottom of their respective tournaments. The Pittsfield boys are seeded 12th in Division 1 and will open up on the road against No. 5 Holyoke on Tuesday. The Pittsfield girls are seeded eighth out of eight teams in the D-1 bracket and will also open against top-seeded Holyoke on Thursday night.

All tournament games in the first two rounds are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
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