By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
Holyoke and Northampton play each other twice this week. The first of the two matchups was on Tuesday, in Holyoke.
Both teams came out cold shooting from the floor. Six minutes into the game Holyoke was up 7-4. Holyoke was getting the shots they wanted; they weren’t converting. Northampton was able to penetrate and get in the paint but there was a lot of pressure by the defenders for Holyoke. The Purple Knights were blocking shots and changing shots in the lane by Northampton.
Holyoke big men Mo Silva and Lordi Smith protected the paint for Holyoke all night. Their defense along with some timely steals and ball pressure by Brian Cristobal were key to their victory on Tuesday. Northampton couldn’t generate easy shots consistently.
(Mo Silva playing defense)
Going into the 2nd quarter, Holyoke was up 10-4. Northampton started playing better on defense which created some transition opportunities. Holyoke wasn’t hitting shots consecutively. Northampton creeped back in the game; they were only down 3, 14-11, at the 5 minute mark. Holyoke found some baskets in the latter part of the 2nd quarter; Northampton struggled to score again.
The Purple Knights led at halftime 21-14.
Holyoke opened up their lead in the 3rd quarter. Northampton couldn’t string together shots all game. They also came up against tough opposition every time they got in the lane. At the 3 minute mark, Holyoke was up 32-16. Holyoke’s defense held Northampton to one shot on most possessions. The third quarter ended 37-24.
Northampton finally picked up their scoring output but it wasn't enough. The Blue Devils lost to the Purple Knights 52-38.
After the game I spoke to Holyoke HC Juan Maldonado, Holyoke Junior Mo Silva and Northampton HC Rey Harp.
🟣Holyoke HC Juan Maldonado⚪️
How did you feel before coming into this game against Northampton?
“I felt ready; I felt excited. This is one of the teams we play in a ‘regular’ year, Northampton is in our division, so, we definitely prepared for them. We know they are well coached and they got guys that play hard. We definitely felt ready and we were excited to go.”
Your team missed some easy shots in the first half. Why were those easy shots missed?
“[Northampton] plays hard but we are never too worried about offense. Our main focus is on defense. If we play defense we know...it will turn to easy offense. We missed a couple of bunny shots that we normally make but we weren’t rattled. We know that we will eventually turn it around on offense”.
What do you expect from Silva and Smith for the rest of the season?
“We expect them to play big and play hard. They are our last line on defense”.
What has Brian Cristobal given the program since you have been Head Coach?
“Obviously scoring is what he’s known for but he give us so much. His knowledge of the game is second to none. He is a true leader. You’ll see him try to yell at players and get on them. He’s definitely a true leader on and off the court. He is just a great, great kid to have on a team and humbling to have on a team”.
🟣Holyoke Junior Forward Mo Silva⚪️
How did you feel before the game today?
“I just stretched; I felt good to be honest. Got a nice warmup in before we got to the gym and then got another warmup in so I was feeling good”.
Why were you and Smith so effective on defense tonight?
“Just trying to execute on everything the coaches tell us to do”.
How is it playing with Brian Cristobal?
“It’s amazing! He makes the game real easy. He’s a sniper, for real. He makes the game really easy. I appreciate him”.
🔵NoHo HC Rey Harp🟡
How did you feel coming into the game today?
“We felt good because we had a couple pretty good days of practice. We’ve been struggling to score because we haven’t been at full strength for a little while”.
Your team had trouble converting shots in the paint. Was that a result of Holyoke’s defense or just not making shots?
“Holyoke [has] a really strong defense. They have some length inside. It was hard for us to get all of our offense going. We could get the beginning of our offense started but it was difficult to use both sides of the court and use the inside-out because of their defense”
What do you have to do to get the victory on Thursday?
“We have to execute better on our offensive end for sure. We can’t expect to win many games only scoring however many points we had here tonight. We gotta get the ball in the basket a lot more than we are right now”.
(Adrix Madera shoots a FT)