By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
Early Tuesday evening, I was back in Holyoke for a boys 🏀 game. The Purple Knights of Holyoke were hosting the Red Raiders from Hampshire Regional HS. HRHS is located in Westhampton, MA, which is northwest of Holyoke.
Tonight was the first time I’ve seen a Hampshire Regional game [more history 🙏🏽].
The entire game was played the same way: up-and-down with the two teams trading shots all night. There weren’t many defensive stops until the 4th quarter when Hampshire realized they were still in the game and Holyoke realized they needed to fend off the Hampshire comeback.
Both teams got the shots they wanted; Holyoke hit more shots on Tuesday.
Holyoke lost to Sabis last Tuesday despite a great shooting performance from Holyoke Senior Brian Cristobal. Cristobal had a decent shooting night on Tuesday but yesterday’s game was more of a team effort to get the win. The Purple Knights got big production from Forward Mo Silva and a few players off the bench.
Hampshire got strong performances on Tuesday from Senior Justin Forest and Dylan Rohan. Forest was the primary ball handler for the Raiders. He has a nice game 👍🏽. He has good balance, he can dribble well, he can get in the lane and he can shoot from 3-pt range. Rohan has a good jump-shot but he was relentless attacking the basket on Tuesday.
Holyoke was active on the offensive boards all night. Those second and third shot opportunities wore down the Raiders.
After 3 quarters, Holyoke was up 45-30. In the 4th, Hampshire cut the led to 10 but could never get any closer. The Raiders took advantage of Holyoke getting cold from the field. The Raiders got a few steals and hit a few 3s to keep the game interesting late in the 4th.
Holyoke finally decided to turn up the defensive pressure. They got steals as Hampshire tried to speed up the game to get closer. The Raiders got a little careless with the ball and Holyoke capitalized.
The Purple Knights beat the Raiders 64-52.
Scorers for Holyoke:
Brian Cristobal - 16 points
S. Rivera - 13 points
C. Ruiz - 12 points
Mo Silva - 9 points
L. Smith - 5 points
A. Madera - 4 points
N. Consedine - 3 points
L. Lavelle - 2 points
Scorers for Hampshire:
Justin Forest - 23 points
Dylan Rohan - 17 points
Kyle Dale - 5 points
Jaydn Kopie & Ian Dunlap - 3 points each
Will Rukokoska - 2 points
After the game I spoke with Hampshire HC Lee Mollison.
🔴Hamp’ HC Lee Mollison⚪️
What led to your comeback in the 4th quarter?
“I thought we played really good defense in the 1st and 2nd quarters. In the 3rd quarter our energy waned on the defensive end. We stopped playing our gaps, they got some easy looks. Cristobal got off, he got a few good looks. Between him scoring quickly and us running out of a little energy, that was the difference in the 3rd quarter. In the 4th quarter, we kinda recaptured our energy on the defensive end. Then, they started missing FTs...that helped us a lot too”.
Are you usually a high volume 3-pt shot team or were those just the shots you were getting tonight?
“So, Justin Forest is our best shooter, he is trying to get to 1,000, he is closing in; I don’t know if he will have time this season to do it. Him and Dylan Rohan, they are good shooters. They offense is designed because they are 2 best offensive options to get some 3s. So, I’d say we are fairly high volume but we also try to keep the ball moving and keep the players moving”.
What has Justin Forest given to your program in his career at Hampshire?
“Justin has been with us since we was a Freshman...Justin has grown tremendously, especially in terms of defense. He has always been a pretty good shooter but he committed more to the defensive end. Most teams gear their defense to guarding him so he is up against a real challenge every night ‘cause he has 2 or 3 guys flashing at him all the time”.
How do you feel to be back on the sidelines coaching?
“I’m so thankful our school committee and the people in our school were able to allows us to compete in Fall 2. It’s been great. I’ve been with the Seniors like Justin and Ian a really long time and I was excited for them to have a season of any kind; I’m excited to compete. This is a challenging bubble for us, playing Sabis and Holyoke and Northampton but that’s a good challenge and its only going to help us grow. We are from a lil’ bit of a smaller school so its a challenge but the best thing for me is just being in the gym with these guys for practice and having fun playing basketball again. And we are getting better...”.