By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
1/6/22 * 6:50 AM
(LUDLOW) - On Wednesday night, the Orioles from Belchertown HS travelled southwest to play the Lions from Ludlow HS. This game was an inter-county battle between Hampden (Ludlow) and Hampshire (Belchertown) counties.
I saw a few Ludlow games in the Fall 2 season last year. I was anticipating seeing Braeden Schwartz and how his jump-shot would look. In warmups, I could tell Schwartz had tweaked his shooting mechanics. The ball is being released faster this year.
Wednesday was Belchertown’s first game since 12/20/21. They beat Renaissance 56-41.
In the first quarter, the Lions jumped out to an early lead. They were pressuring the ball on defense and creating turnovers. The Orioles were “flat” on both ends. They couldn’t handle the pressure by Ludlow and they were missing the few shots they did attempt.
Ludlow led 10-2 when Belchertown HC Matthew Stenuis called a timeout.
HC Stenuis’ words in the timeout ignited his players and Belchertown fought their way back in the game. Ludlow was still making shots and maintained their lead through the first quarter.
The Lions led 21-14.
The Orioles started the 2nd quarter fast. They went on a 7-0 run over the first 2 minutes of the quarter and tied the game.
On the next play, Belchertown forced Ludlow into a turnover. The game slipped away from the Lions at that point. Their offense was totally reliant on Schwartz, who is still a developing talent. The Orioles began using their own press to speed up the Lions and get turnovers. They also started to hit 3s. HC Stenuis told me the Orioles “played Belchertown basketball in the second quarter”.
Before the half ended, Belchertown Junior Henry Audette hit a 3 to send the Orioles to the locker room on a high note. They led the Lions 42-30 at halftime.
The game didn’t get any better for the Lions, unfortunately. Their only offense came from Schwartz and Daudy Guerrero. Schwartz scored 25 points; Guerrero scored 18 points.
(Daudy Guerrero, Ludlow #3)
Belchertown made shots until the end of the game. It seemed Ludlow HC Cliff Zimmer took exception to Belchertown still scoring while they were up 25+ points with a couple minutes left on the clock. Belchertown HC Stenius told me he took the starters out with 6 minutes left in the 4th. “We played kids that haven’t gotten many minutes. Hey, good shooting is good shooting…Those are kids who never take [3s] in games”.
Belchertown routed Ludlow 92-62.
Nate Sajdak and Tyler McDonald both scored 27 points for Belchertown on Wednesday. They combined for 11 made 3-pt FGs 🔥.
(Nate Sajdak shoots a 3)