The Cardinals improve to 7-2 with a lopsided win in Brockton.
The Hoosac Valley boys basketball probably thought its 31/2-hour bus ride to Brockton was its biggest problem before Saturday afternoon’s game at Cardinal Spellman.
But that was before the pressure Spellman defense deflated the Hurricanes’ offense in the second quarter, produced a blizzard of turnovers, and busted open a tight game with a 19-3 run going into halftime.
The Cardinals (7-2) went on to win 79-49, with all of their regulars resting throughout the fourth period, as connoisseurs of Spellman hoops got to savor features like diminuitive sophomore Jakai Gail (Brockton) – the shortest guy on the court but also the quickest – draining a 3-pointer and then dribbling through the Hoosac Valley defense for another crowd-pleasing bucket.
Spellman’s offensive effort was led by senior forward Mike Spencer (Abington) with 24 points, including 13 in the first period when it was still a close contest, and Hurricane sharpshooters Izaha Stubbs (three 3-pointers), Vance Eugene (five points) and Casey Meczywer (five points) threatened to match the Cardinals’ attack. Cardinals senior guard Admar Jaramillo was also big in that first period, netting three baskets as the home team battled to a 24-23 edge.
It was still a close game a few minutes into the second stanza, but a corner trey by Cardinals sophomore Mike Marshall (Weymouth) pushed the advantage to 33-25 and seemed to take the life out of Hoosac Valley. Seconds later Marshall stole the ball in the backcourt and scored again for a 10-point Spellman cushion with just under four minutes left in the half.
The Hurricanes never did figure out how to stop Spencer, and he added six points on those final minutes, while sophomore Craig Faria (Brockton) added a couple of more buckets. The Hurricanes would never get untracked again, scoring a total of only five points in that second quarter as they went into the break trailing Spellman 47-28.
“Hoosac Valley had no answer for Spencer in that first period,” said Spellman coach Mike Perry. “But after their No. 13 (Stubbs) hit those 3-pointers and No. 24 (Eugene) also hit some shots, they stayed with us. I think a little of our halfcourt press in the second period really made the difference. I was glad that after our last tough game (the 68-64 loss to St. Mary’s after a late Spellman rally), the kids responded to the bell, and played with a lot of heart and purpose.”
Unfortunately for the visitors from Cheshire, Mass., and the Berkshire County League, the Cardinal’s pressure defense didn’t give them any breathing room in the third period. No less than 11 more Hoosac Valley turnovers fed the Spellman fast break in the third period, and with super-sub senior Will Cournan (Pembroke) creating his usual havoc down low for six points, the Spellman lead peaked at 64-35. A late Hurricanes rally ended the third quarter with the Cardinals sitting atop a 66-42 bulge.
“The important thing for that third quarter was to come out and keep that intensity,” said Perry. “We didn’t let down despite the big lead at halftime. We didn’t give them any breathing room, played defense, and kept the pressure on. Cournan was all around the basket – he’s a real blue collar worker for us – but all the kids kept working hard.”
Most of the starters sat for all or a majority of the final frame, and the Hurricanes (4-2) also emptied their bench. In the final stats, Spencer’s 24 points was supported by 14 from Jaramillo, nine from Cournan and six from Faria. The Hurricanes were paced by Eugene’s 11 points while Stubbs never scored again after his trio of opening period threes.
“It’s nice to get all the guys in the game,” said Perry. “We didn’t know much about Hoosac Valley although I had my brother scout them last week. They were in the D-3 Super Bowl this year, so they have good athletes, and they have won a lot of Western Mass. basketball titles, too. They wanted to play us and we said ‘sure,’ and we’ll do it again. But you do feel sorry for those kids for that tough bus ride today, with the weather conditions out there not that good.”