By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
I was in West Springfield on Thursday night to watch the Terriers of West Springfield (West Side) host the Bombers from Westfield. These are neighboring towns on the west side of the Connecticut River.
Tonight was the last game of the season for West Side. It was also the last game in the careers of West Side Seniors Ryan Russell and Jacob Acevedo.
FP SPORTS was in West Side on January 25th for the game against Pope Francis. There was a Senior Night celebration 2 games into the season. West Side HC Joel Aponte wanted to make sure the two Seniors were honored by their families and teammates families.
After a couple of possessions back and forth for both teams early in the 1st quarter, Russell finally broke the scoring seal and hit a 3 for West Side. The Terriers got 2 more baskets, one from Sophmore Has Ashraf, and they were up 7-0.
After some up-and-down play with no scores, Westfield HC Josh Balestracci called a timeout. Halfway in to the 1st quarter, the Bombers had zero points. They were getting a lot shots at the basket and they were active on the offensive glass. Obviously by the score in the first 4 minutes, they could not make a basket, even FTs.
West Side's defense was also contributing to Westfield's lack of offense. The Terriers contested every shot in the paint. They did give up offensive rebounds in the first but they fought to make the second shot difficult and they forced some turnovers.
(Anthony Curran blocks David Tirrell)
(Anthony Curran blocks David Tirrell)
Russell hit 2 FTs and Sophomore Joe Kosior hit a 3 to put West Side up 12-0.
Westfield's Matt Prince broke the scoring drought for the Bombers by splitting a pair of FTs after a foul. West Side was up 12-1.
Close to the end of the 1st quarter, Westfield's Brennon Jarvis drove to the basket, got fouled and made the layup. He missed the "and-1" FT and Westfield was down after the 1st quarter, 15-3.
(Westfield grabs a rebound in the 2nd quarter)
In the second quarter, Westfield's Brain Strange got a technical foul. Strange was upset that a foul was called on a block he believed was all ball. Strange voiced his frustrations to the referee and he received a technical.
The score of this game isn't indicative of how hard Westfield played on Thursday night. They competed all night long. They were rebounding aggressively. They were diving on the floor after loose-balls. They were upset at a lot of calls. They definitely had the energy and intensity it takes to win. They did not have offensive firepower on Thusday.
(Aftermath of jumpball in 1st half)
The Terriers blew the game open in the 2nd quarter, outscoring the Bombers 18-7. At halftime the Terriers were up 33-10.
Westfield competed the whole second half but their efforts weren't enough on Thursday. West Side coasted to a victory, 52-32.
(Final from West Side)
Scorers for West Side:
(Has Ashraf shoots a shot in the lane)
Has Ashraf & Joe Kosior - 9 points each
Ryan Russell & Tim French - 8 points each
Joe Ingegneri - 7 points
Jacob Acevedo - 4 points
Tom Kennedy & Anthony Curran - 2 points each
Scorers for Westfield:
Brennon Jarvis - 11 points
Nick Anciello - 9 points
Cam Theriault & David Tirrell - 3 points each
Brian Strange & Jon Bulan - 2 points each
Matt Prince & Hunter Cain - 1 point each
After the game, I spoke with both HCs.
Westfield HC Josh Balestracci
Q: What weren't you doing that led to the loss tonight?
A: "Shots weren't falling. I think we always play hard, give a good effort. We are a tough group. We rebound pretty well. The shots were't falling tonight. Give a lot of credit to those guys; they are well coached. They worked hard; its a good team over there. Just wasn't our night".
Q: Where does that tough mindset come from?
A: "I think it comes from the kids, its their program, our program but its something habitually we do a good job with...we teach really hard man-to-man defense. We try to be as physical as we can and just give it everything we got".
Q: How did you feel getting back on the sidelines and how do you feel now that the season is over?
A: "It was an interesting season. Safety is always the biggest issue we are dealing with everyday. Lot of administrative stuff...but it was nice to allow the kids to have a season to be honest with you. Whether we got 2 games in or 10 games in or 8 games, we got 8 games, it was good to let these kids have a season, which is the most important part".
West Side HC Joel Aponte
Q: What led to the victory tonight?
A: "You always gotta make some shots if you wanna win some games...if you wanna win at this level, you gotta have guys that make some shots and I think we did that. We were confident and we get each other some good looks with our offenses".
Q: What have your 2 Seniors, Ryan Russell and Jacob Acevedo, given to the program, especially this year?
A: "I think that Ryan's a guys who has given us some much needed toughness this year and in the past he's always been a super-tough kid; really savvy with the basketball. We needed a lot from him this year 'cause we are such a young group. Jacob has just been one of the best people I've ever had in the program...just good kids that love to play basketball".
(Russell embraces teammate Derek Patnaude)
(Jacob Acevedo shoots FT)
Q: How do you feel now that the season is over?
A: "Its sad, its sad to finish especially when we feel like we are just starting to get our wheels underneath us...but I'm happy we ended on a good note."
The basketball season hasn't ended yet for FP SPORTS. I'm back in Ludlow on Friday for a Varsity/JV doubleheader against Pathfinder Tech.