MIAA boys basketball: Big first half powers top-seeded Hoosac past No. 5 Mahar, 76-44, in Div. 5 semis (PHOTOS)

Mahar’s Jayden Delgado (22), left, goes up for a basket against Hoosac Valley’s Frank Field (33) during the Senators’ 76-44 loss in the MIAA Division 5 semifinals on Tuesday at West Springfield High School.

Mahar’s Jayden Delgado (22), left, goes up for a basket against Hoosac Valley’s Frank Field (33) during the Senators’ 76-44 loss in the MIAA Division 5 semifinals on Tuesday at West Springfield High School. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Mahar’s Morgan Softic (2) drives to the basket against Hoosac Valley during the Senators’ 76-44 loss in the MIAA Division 5 semifinals on Tuesday at West Springfield High School.

Mahar’s Morgan Softic (2) drives to the basket against Hoosac Valley during the Senators’ 76-44 loss in the MIAA Division 5 semifinals on Tuesday at West Springfield High School. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Mahar’s Lucas Isrow (4) dribbles the ball against Hoosac Valley during the Senators’ 76-44 loss in the MIAA Division 5 semifinals on Tuesday at West Springfield High School.

Mahar’s Lucas Isrow (4) dribbles the ball against Hoosac Valley during the Senators’ 76-44 loss in the MIAA Division 5 semifinals on Tuesday at West Springfield High School. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Mahar’s Jayden Delgado (22), left, backs down Hoosac Valley’s Qwanell Bradley during the Senators’ 76-44 loss in the MIAA Division 5 semifinals on Tuesday at West Springfield High School.

Mahar’s Jayden Delgado (22), left, backs down Hoosac Valley’s Qwanell Bradley during the Senators’ 76-44 loss in the MIAA Division 5 semifinals on Tuesday at West Springfield High School. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Mahar’s Will Barnes pulls up for a shot against Hoosac Valley during the Senators’ 76-44 loss in the MIAA Division 5 semifinals on Tuesday at West Springfield High School.

Mahar’s Will Barnes pulls up for a shot against Hoosac Valley during the Senators’ 76-44 loss in the MIAA Division 5 semifinals on Tuesday at West Springfield High School. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Mahar’s Lucas Isrow tries to make a pass in between Hoosac Valley’s Frank Field (33) and Qwanell Bradley (25) during the Senators’ 76-44 loss in the MIAA Division 5 semifinals on Tuesday at West Springfield High School.

Mahar’s Lucas Isrow tries to make a pass in between Hoosac Valley’s Frank Field (33) and Qwanell Bradley (25) during the Senators’ 76-44 loss in the MIAA Division 5 semifinals on Tuesday at West Springfield High School. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Mahar’s Morgan Softic (2) looks to make a pass against Hoosac Valley during the Senators’ 76-44 loss in the MIAA Division 5 semifinals on Wednesday at West Springfield High School.

Mahar’s Morgan Softic (2) looks to make a pass against Hoosac Valley during the Senators’ 76-44 loss in the MIAA Division 5 semifinals on Wednesday at West Springfield High School. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

By THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer

Published: 03-12-2024 9:02 PM

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The Mahar boys basketball team survived slow starts throughout the MIAA Division 5 state tournament, playing its best during the second half of games. 

The fifth-seeded Senators got themselves in a hole early again on Tuesday in the state semifinals, but Hoosac Valley wasn’t going to allow them back in the game this time. 

Top-seeded Hoosac raced out to an 18-9 lead after eight minutes and after Mahar scored the first three points of the second quarter, the Hurricanes answered with a 13-0 run, sprung by a pair of 3-pointers from Trevor Moynihan and a triple from Frank Field. Joey McGovern hit his third 3 of the half just before the buzzer sounded to give Hoosac a 36-14 lead at the break. 

The Senators couldn’t overcome the 22-point deficit, and the Hurricanes pulled away in the second half to knock off Mahar, 76-44, at West Springfield High School. 

Hoosac Valley (23-2) advanced to face the winner of Wednesday’s other semifinal between No. 2 New Mission and No. 3 Pioneer in the state championship game this weekend. 

“Hoosac played well but it started with us,” Senators coach Chad Softic said. “It was the same things we saw in the Boston English game. We had nobody accounting for anyone on the glass. We got beat up on the glass. When you give a really good team like that extra opportunities, what are you going to do? It’s not going to go well. That was self inflicted and that’s disappointing.” 

The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Senators (19-6), which were playing their best basketball down the stretch to reach the semifinals in addition to capturing a Western Mass. Class C championship. 

“It doesn’t taste well,” Softic said. “I talked about the basketball gods helping us out the last few games and we didn’t do the right things today and we got punished for it.”  

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 The Hurricanes were on fire from downtown throughout Tuesday’s contest. 

Hoosac connected on 11 3-pointers in the game, seven coming from McGovern who finished with a game-high 29 points. Moynihan, just an eighth grader, tallied three 3s and finished with 21 points. By dominating the boards, the Hurricanes were able to convert those second chance opportunities into points. 

Conversely, Mahar was limited to just four 3-pointers, three of which came in the fourth quarter. 

“Hoosac’s guard play was sensational,” Softic said. “We couldn’t stay in front of them and obviously they shot the heck out of the basketball. Our help defense was slow and besides the offensive rebounds we gave up in the first quarter, the bunnies we missed were tough. It could have been a different game psychologically. When they’re making shots and stretching the lead, we just didn’t bounce back.” 

Field and Qwanell Bradley opened the game with baskets and the foul for Hoosac. Lucas Isrow put Mahar on the board with a 3, and following baskets from Jayden Delgado and Will Barnes, the Senators trailed 10-7. 

The Hurricanes took over from there. McGovern hit a 3, Bradley converted an and-one and McGovern made a pair from the line, giving Hoosac an 18-7 lead. 

The Hurricanes’ run in the second quarter pushed out the lead as the Senators were held to just one field goal — a basket by Barnes — and five points total in the second quarter. 

While Mahar had a better showing offensively during the final 16 minutes, the Hurricanes didn’t stop scoring themselves. McGovern opened the second half with a 3, but baskets from Delgado and Barnes (2) helped the Senators cut the lead to 41-21 early in the quarter. 

Adan Wicks scored back-to-back baskets for Hoosac, Kaden Tatro answered an Isrow bucket and Moynihan and McGovern hit 3s late in the quarter help give the Hurricanes a 53-29 lead going into the fourth. 

Mahar was never able to cut it to within 20 in the fourth, as McGovern went on a personal 10-2 run midway through the frame that gave Hoosac a 68-38 lead, leading to starters being pulled with under three minutes to play. 

Isrow finished with 13 points, Barnes tallied nine points while Jayden Delgado and Morgan Softic both scored eight points for the Senators. 

Field tallied nine points while Bradley added eight points for the Hurricanes.