Berkshire County Bracketology for the seven teams alive in the state title race | Local Sports

Wahconah boys basketball head coach Dustin Belcher said it best after the Warriors advanced to the Division IV Elite Eight with a win over West Bridgewater on Tuesday — “There’s no more gimme’s, you’re going to have to go get it now.”

Wahconah is one of seven local teams within reach of an MIAA State Title and just three rounds to go before a winner is crowned. Tickets for each Elite Eight game can be found at gofan.co/search and the games will be played on Friday and Saturday.

The Warriors put three scorers north of 20 points in dispatching No. 20 West Bridgewater and securing their spot in the Elite Eight.

Fourth-seeded Wahconah has two double-digit Division IV wins in the back pocket, topping Whitinsville 65-52 in the Round of 32 before Tuesday’s 83-67 victory over the Wildcats.

Brody Calvert has been inevitable on offense with 26 points in each of the last two games. Wahconah’s guard averages 22 points per game on the year and Jesse Chapman has established himself as a strong running mate for Calvert, scoring 21 points in each of the last two games after not surpassing 19 points during the regular season. Pat McLaughlin added another 21 points in Tuesday’s win and Wahconah’s 83 points is the second-most we’ve seen from the team this season. The Warriors scored 85 points against Easthampton on February 11.

Wahconah will need all the firepower it can muster against No. 12 Manchester Essex on Saturday. The Hornets have been a machine on the defensive end, allowing 41.5 points per game through two rounds of the tournament. Manchester, which topped No. 5 Cathedral 47-44 in the Round of 16, will make the 160-mile trip to Dalton and the tip-off is slated for 5:30 p.m.

The six other teams in the hunt for a state title all reside in D-V, but for the two top-seeded teams, they’ve been chasing postseason treasure for some time now. The Taconic boys and Hoosac Valley girls earned the honors of No. 1 seeds in the bracket. Additionally, both teams are looking for complete control of the throne after earning the title of co-champions when the 2020 season was cut short after state semifinal wins.

Christian Maturevich did a bit of everything and scored 20 points as Taconic punched its Elite 8 ticket on Monday evening in Pittsfield.

When the Green and Gold are in a tournament, odds are that title will have to run through Pittsfield. The first thing that stands out about top-seeded Taconic is consistency, winning 65-48 against No. 33 Upper Cape Cod before handling No. 16 Salem Academy Charter 63-48 in the Round of 16.

Taconic’s depth has really shined since the state tournament began. Sam Sherman (14.5 ppg), Tayvon Sandifer (14 ppg), Christian Maturevich (13 ppg) and Sean Harrigan (10 ppg) have all had stretches of carrying the offense throughout 16 state-tournament quarters. Hopkins Academy is coming off a thriller, just sneaking past No. 9 Hopedale 62-61 in the Round of 16.

The leprechauns could appear early in Pittsfield on Friday as either the Green and Gold, or eighth-seeded Golden Hawks, will be one step closer to the end of the rainbow. Tip-off is slated for 5 p.m.

Switching to the D-V girls, there are 15 teams, including three that are local, monitoring as a storm is quickly engulfing the bracket. The top-seeded Hoosac girls are allowing less than 24 ppg in the state tournament after holding opponents 19 ppg in the three-game Western Mass. tournament, which ended with a Class D title for coach Holly McGovern’s squad.

Averie McGrath and Rylynn Witek combined for 37 points as the Hurricanes won a Sweet 16 game 66-28 on Monday night.

Headlining the Hurricanes is Averie McGrath and it’s unlikely you’ll find someone as battle-tested as Hoosac’s senior. Not only is this her third trip to the Elite Eight in three attempts (the last two ended with state championships), she has taken over the reins as Hoosac’s leading scorer and is one of the most lethal shooters in the division. She’s averaging nearly 19 ppg on the year and scored 20 as Hoosac handled No. 17 Georgetown 66-28 in the Round of 16.

Keep in mind that the Hurricanes aren’t a one-band concert either. Rylynn Witek scored 17 points on Monday and is averaging more than 10 ppg this season. Additionally, Gabby Billetz and Taylor Garabedian are silencing opponents in the frontcourt while combining for roughly 14 ppg in the tournament. No. 8 Carver, which topped No. 9 West Boylston 65-54, will take the three-hour trip to Cheshire on Friday for a 6 p.m. tip-off at Hoosac Valley.

The next-highest seed is back in the boys bracket as No. 3 Drury is 32 minutes away from a seat in the final four. The Blue Devils derailed No. 14 Lenox’s playoff hopes with a 58-43 win earlier in the week and will host No. 6 Maynard, which earned its spot in the Elite Eight with a 69-37 win over Mount Greylock.

Tim Brazeau posted a triple-double on Tuesday night, driving the Blue Devils into the Elite Eight.

Louis Guillotte has shouldered most of the heavy lifting for the Blue Devils’ tournament offense, scoring 29 points per game for a Drury team that has won nine of the last 10 contests. Guillotte’s 32-point performance against Ayer-Shirley in the Round of 32 was his second-highest scoring output behind a 39-point performance against Lenox in mid-December.

Sharpshooter Ben Moulton is a strong second option on offense, averaging 14 points in the state tournament. Tim Brazeau is another outlet that allows Drury to diversify its attacking assets, doing most of his damage around the rim and coming off a 10-point outing against Lenox in the Round of 16. Remember as well, coach Jack Racette’s program is no stranger to postseason runs. Drury won back-to-back Western Mass. titles in 2019 and 2020, before falling in the Class C final two weeks ago.

Berkshire County’s final three teams are playing in the D-V girls tournament and the bracket paints an interesting picture. Each of the Elite Eight games feature a Berkshire County team, but none of them are playing each other. So, there is a chance for an all-Berkshire Final Four. Behind top-seed Hoosac is No. 5 Taconic.

Three different players captured at least 10 rebounds as Taconic muscled past Palmer in the MIAA Division V State Tournament Round of 16 with a 56-42 win. 

The Green and Gold are another team coming off a co-championship in 2020 and are climbing back up the mountain with two double-digit wins, topping No. 28 St. John Paul II 66-36 and No. 12 Palmer 56-42.

Averaging 17.8 ppg, 1,000-point scorer Ahliya Phillips has bumped that number to 20 since the Western Mass. tournament began. Brenna McNeice is averaging 10 ppg in the playoffs and is an effective rebounder on the offensive boards, a key in Taconic’s win over Palmer.

Additionally, Alex Hudson has stretched the floor with at least one trey per game and has scored at least seven points in each of the last two games. No. 4 Millis is next on the list for Taconic and Friday’s game will be played at Bellingham High School, roughly a two-hour trip for Pittsfield’s student-athletes. Millis handled No. 20 St. Bernard’s 55-28 in the Round of 16, but will not host the game on its campus due to capacity requirements. The game will begin at 6:30 p.m.

No. 6 Lee, which is also filling the gas tank and hitting the road with a trip to Whitinsville Christian, which will play host for No. 3 Hopedale. The Wildcats roster wrecking ball Caroline Maloney, who demolished No. 11 Douglas with 11 3-point field goals and a career-high 46 points. The performance was the highest-scoring output by anyone in the county this year but Maloney has been cooking since the Western Mass tournament began, averaging 25.8 ppg over the last five games.

Caroline Maloney was unstoppable on Tuesday, scoring 46 points as Lee advanced to the D-V Elite Eight with a win over Douglas. 

Lee doesn’t have a lot of weapons but they’ve proven that they’re the right weapons. Emma Puleri returned to the lineup against Douglas after missing four games and scored seven points. Brianna Kelly scored 10 points in the Round of 32 as the Wildcats held No. 27 Granby to 25 points. Freshman Mia Puleri hasn’t scored less than five points since Feb. 14 and is vital against the full-court press with her ability to bring the ball up the court as a forward.

Hopedale is a team on a mission with a 71-39 win over No. 30 Bromfield and a 69-40 win over No. 14 David Prouty. The Lee girls will travel roughly 100 miles for Friday’s game, which will begin at 6 p.m.

In the final branch of the bracket sits No. 7 Drury and the Blue Devils have done nothing but take care of business through the first two rounds. A 70-35 win over No. 26 St. Mary’s Westfield was followed by a 49-31 win over No. 23 Hull.

Kayla McGrath and Alyssa Russell scored 15 points apiece, as the No. 7 Blue Devils eliminated No. 23 Hull from the MIAA Division V State Tournament.

Kayla McGrath led Drury with 11 points and then 15 points, but the Blue Devils have a variety of players who can score on the offensive end. Alyssa Russell knocked down five 3-point shots against Hull and five different players scored at least eight points against St. Mary’s. Guard Lauren Davis makes life easier for everyone with her court vision and ability to distribute the ball, but she can also make defenses pay if ignored, scoring at least seven points in three of the five playoff games this season.

Drury will be at American International College at 5 p.m. on Friday to play No. 2 Springfield ICS, which has won each of its games by at least 19 points. Both the Blue Devils and Bulldogs battled Class D champion Taconic in the Western Mass. tournament two weeks ago.

If Drury and Lee win, they would play one another. Same goes for Hoosac Valley and Taconic. The Taconic and Drury boys would only meet in a potential state final.

The state semifinals are currently scheduled for March 14-16 and the championship round will take place March 18-20.

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