By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
I was too early to the “Season Review” party 🎉.
Today*, I was on time for the start of the MIAA Fall 2 🏀 season. SABIS International Charter School (SICS; Springfield, MA) had to travel north to play a tough road game against Holyoke HS.
Many of the same “COVID-19” protocols are still in place. However, it seems that Holyoke is not allowing family members of the players to come to the games. Holyoke decided not to participate in the shortened “regular” season that ended 2 weeks ago.
This game was each teams first game of the year. They both came out slow to start the game; Sabis was up 5-4 at the 5 minute mark in the 1st quarter.
Early in the game, Holyoke was getting to the basket but they couldn’t convert. Holyoke’s Mo Silva hit a jump shot in the lane but the Purple Knights couldn’t generate any offense. Sabis’ offense was generated by fast-breaks, which started with the defense securing the rebound and getting the ball to Tre Hodge.
In two minutes of gameplay, the Bulldogs extended their lead to 10-4. That’s when Brian Cristobal clicked in to gear ⚙️. He hit a 3 and got fouled. He didn’t make the FT 😔. Holyoke had narrowed the lead to three, 10-7.
Sabis ended the 1st quarter on a 7-2 run. Sabis was up 17-9 at the end of the first. The transition layups continued but the Bulldogs also got 3s from Hodge and Kenny Rodgers.
Holyoke was getting shots but they couldn’t convert. They had too many unforced turnovers also.
The Bulldogs increased their lead in the second quarter. Holyoke started to hit more shots, primarily because of Cristobal, but they couldn’t get any stops on defense. Cristobal had 11 points in the second quarter 🔥.
The Purple Knights were down at half 32-22
Whatever message was conveyed at halftime inspired the Purple Knights. They fought back the whole 3rd quarter and finally took the lead with under 2 minutes to go, 35-34. Holyoke held Sabis to 2 points over 6 minutes in the third quarter. Holyoke made a lot of shots in transition but not all were layups. Cristobal was on target on Tuesday and hit jumpers from everywhere.
That lead for Holyoke was short lived. Sabis’ Jacob Muller hit a 3 which put Sabis back up 37-35. Sabis ended the quarter on a 8-0 run and the third ended 45-35.
The beginning of the fourth played out like the end of the third quarter. Sabis was getting the shots they wanted and Holyoke couldn’t find their offense, outside of Cristobal. That’s when Cristobal came on even stronger. He hit four 3s in the fourth. He scored 14 points in the fourth. The last 3 he hit cut the lead to 3, 56-53.
Sabis was able to block a 3-pt attempt by Holyoke. The Bulldogs got the ball off the deflection and got fouled. They hit 2 FTs and the game was over.
Scorers for Sabis:
Tre Hodge - 23 points
Kenny Rodgers - 14 points
Jacob Mueller - 7 points
Jared Denson - 4 points
Alex Williams - 3 points
Jacob Evans, Sidney Borges & Rob Scoville - 2 points each
Chris Grimaldi - 1 point
Scorers for Holyoke:
Brian Cristobal - 32 points
Mo Silva - 8 points
J. Rivera & S. Rivera - 4 points each
C. Ruiz & A. Madera - 2 points each
Pat Gubala - 1 point
I spoke with 2020 Western Mass Champ and HSC graduate, Sabis HC Pat Ochoa after the game.
🔴Sabis HC Pat Ochoa⚪️
Did you think you would play this season?
“Honestly, I had no idea. Going in to the winter, I was optimistic but I didn’t think...I thought realistically, in the times we are in that it didn’t make much sense but then the opportunity came up for the Fall 2 season. When that came around, the optimism went up a lil’ bit. We started to feel the energy from our guys that we were gonna have this opportunity to play. And here we are, we’re here; we’re playing. As different as this is out here, no fans, modified rules, physically distant bench...it felt really normal”.
What are looking to get from Tre Hodge this short season?
“To be our leader; to be our leader. He has had those leadership qualities since he was a Freshman....He embodies everything that we are about. Not only at times is he the best player out on the floor, he is our biggest leader. When you have those two qualities, there is no limit to what your team can accomplish.
Does he have any offers yet?
“He has a few Division 3 offers on the table. He also has some prep schools looking at him. He is weighing his options right now”.
How did it feel to be out there again?
“It felt great”.
One note about this game that I was unaware of before today. Holyoke Senior Brian Cristobal is deaf. There was a sign language interpreter on the Holyoke sideline, prominently communicating with Cristobal throughout the game. When I saw the woman communicating in sign language on the sideline, I instantly knew at least one of the players was deaf 🧏♂️. I decided to put this part here because even though Cristobal was born with compromised hearing, he is achieving like any other young person, given the same opportunity. He is a very good shooter and I hope he continues to play basketball for as long as he wants.
Basketball is for everyone.
*FP SPORTS was scheduled to be in Huntington, MA on Monday for the Gateway Regional HS Girls Varsity season opener. That game was cancelled. The Boys game in Southwick was also cancelled. I went to Southwick not knowing that the game had been cancelled😅. I spoke with Southwick AD David Sanschagrin and he told me the Boys game @ Gateway on Thursday may still be played.
The games were cancelled due to “health and safety protocols” [to steal a phrase from the NBA].