By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
3/9/22 * 4:20 PM
(HOLYOKE) - Holyoke HS hosted Dracut HS for a MIAA Division 2 State Tournament game.
Last week, Dracut travelled to Western Mass. to play Amherst-Pelham Regional. They beat the Hurricanes 58-51. Holyoke won a home game against Bedford 60-50.
Dracut made their second trip to Western Mass. for a chance to move on to the “Round of 8”.
Holyoke pounced on Dracut quickly to open the game. The Purple Knights were up 8-2 early. It looked like Dracut was overmatched.
Dracut settled down and found their way in the second quarter. Dracut Senior Guard Adrian Torres took over for Dracut.
He drove to the basket hard all game. He also hit some big jump-shots for Dracut.
Both teams played good defense in the first half. Defenders on both teams didn’t give the offense room to breathe. Holyoke led at halftime 25-24.
In the second half, the game was “up for grabs”. The teams traded baskets; neither team could stop the other one from scoring. Adrian Torres made a 3 before the buzzer to give Dracut a 46-44 lead going into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Holyoke’s key players stepped up and made plays to help secure the win. Roel Figueroa attacked the basket hard in the fourth. He made a couple of layups and a three for the Purple Knights. “Mo” Silva made an impact on the game in the fourth. He made a put-back layup off a miss shot and a three that gave Holyoke a four point lead.
Dracut was down 60-58, with about a minute left in the game. Dracut Senior Christopher Ouko made a 3 that gave Dracut the lead 61-60.
After a FT by Ouko and a layup by Adrix Madera, the game was tied at 62.
With less than 30 seconds left in the game, Holyoke Senior Jael Cabrera got the inbound pass. He brought the ball up the court and scanned the defense. He made is move to the basket and went up for a left-handed layup. He made the layup and the crowd in Holyoke erupted! One of the best players in Western Mass. made the biggest play of the game.
Dracut had one more opportunity to score. There were two seconds left in the game. They inbounded the ball. Nathan Boateng caught it and tried to shoot a half-court shot. The shot was blocked by Cabrera.
Holyoke survived another close game 64-62. They move on to play Burlington in the “Round of 8”.
Cabrera and Figueroa both scored 18 points for Holyoke.
Adrian Torres scored a game-high 27 points for Dracut.
After the game, I spoke with Holyoke HC Juan Maldonaldo and Dracut HC Brian Meyers.
🟣 HC Maldonaldo ⚪️
How do you feel after this win in the “Round of 16”?
“[I’m] super, super happy. I’m so proud of our guys. That’s a tough team over there…We’re super excited. It feels good to put Holyoke ‘on the map’. Holyoke needs respect; now we are going to the [Round of 8]”.
What has Jael Cabrera meant to the team this season?
“He has been our motor, our heart, he has been our everything. The kid plays with passion. In my opinion, the best player in Western Mass., for sure”.
🔵 HC Meyers ⚪️
How do you feel about the new MIAA State Tournament format?
“Its been fun. We gotta see how it all shakes out. We aren’t a typical #27 seed. We were disappointed about seeding, we have to go on the road…it is what it is…”
What has Adrian Torres given you in his career?
“I think you saw it tonight. He is a gamer. He plays every minute of every game. He is a 1,000 point scorer. He’s a leader and he plays the right way. He plays hard and doesn’t complain. He’s a stud”.