By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
1/28/22 * 4:45 PM
(EAST LONGMEADOW) - Last night was a a Western Mass. inter-county battle between Hampden County (East Longmeadow) and Hampshire County (Amherst).
The Hurricanes from Amherst have had a good season so far. They are led by HC Jamahl Jackson. They beat Chicopee Comp on Monday. They had previously beaten East Longmeadow by 28 points, in Amherst.
The Spartans of East Longmeadow are led by HC Brendan Abad. The Spartans entered Thursday’s game on a 4-game losing skid.
Unlike the contest in Amherst, this game was close the entire 32 minutes.
Each team played decent defense but both the Hurricanes and Spartans got the shots they wanted. Amherst Guards Evan Stewart and Zayd Sadiq were in the lane all night. East Longmeadow Senior Ray Carter also got in the paint and hit tough shots over defenders.
At halftime, East Longmeadow was ahead slightly 30-29. Neither team could get out to a big lead. Every shot one team hit was answered by a shot by the other team.
Early in the third quarter, Amherst took the lead 34-33 after a layup by Sadiq. East Longmeadow responded immediately on the other end and regained the lead 35-34.
East Longmeadow was still up by one, 41-40, at the end of the third quarter.
The first half of the 4th quarter was a “slugfest”. Each team hit the other with their best shot, per se.
The game came to a tie, at 46, for a couple minutes. EL made the two biggest plays of the night, with about three minutes left in the game. Ray Carter hit a three to put EL up 49-46. On East Longmeadow’s next possession, Conner Robidoux (also on the EL 🏈 team) hit a three to extend the lead 52-46.
Those two 3s neutralized Amherst. They couldn’t mount a comeback in the final two minutes. East Longmeadow beat Amherst 55-48 and snapped their losing streak.
Ray Carter scored a team-high 20 points (four 3s). Conner Robidoux and Nate Wainwright scored 10 points each.
Zayd Sadiq scored a team-high 20 points for Amherst.
After the game, I spoke to EL HC Abad, Conner Robidoux and Amherst HC Jackson.
🔴HC Brendan Abad⚪️
Your team played yesterday and lost [to Agawam]. How did you feel coming into this game?
“Agawam smacked us to be honest…Our guys responded tonight; we bounced back…”
You played Amherst already. What did you learn in that game that helped you in this game?
“We learned it’s tough traveling up there. They beat us…up there a week ago. We knew they weren’t 30 points better than us, we just have to believe that…Our guys are resilient…A really great team win overall”.
You guys have been on a little skid lately. How did you feel coming into this game?
“We felt we need to up our intensity and energy. We had a few tough games; we weren’t playing like ourselves. We went back to our roots, stuck to our defensive principles”.
What were you thinking before you hit the three to put you up 6 points?
“I saw Paul [Gosselin] got a big offensive rebound. I knew I had to knock it down to give us a chance to win and it went in. It was a big energy boost for us”.
⚫️HC Jamahl Jackson⚪️
The first time you played them, you won. What do you think happened in this game?
“I thought they wanted this game more than we did…When your on the road, teams always play a little better at home, role players play better…Early on, we gave a lot of those guys confidence ‘cause we gave up too many uncontested shots. It seemed like we were playing catch-up the entire time. We were a step slow defensively…I believe we needed this hit on the chin…”.
East Longmeadow is now 7-6; Amherst is 9-3.