By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
Today, I was in Monson, MA to watch the Mustangs of Monson HS host their first home game in awhile. The Bulldogs of Sabis made the trek east, from the Springfield/Wilbraham line to the hills of Monson.
This game featured two of the best players in Massachusetts: Tre Hodge for Sabis and Colby Duggan for Monson. They are also AAU teammates.
The game started off pretty slow on both sides. Neither team scored for about the first 3 minutes of the game. I was in Northampton on Monday to see the Mustangs play and Wednesday was a similar start. The Monson offense is most effective when Duggan has the ball in his hands. Monson threw too many errant passes against Sabis. Sabis turned those turnovers into points all night.
After the 1st quarter, Sabis was ahead 11-10. In between the 1st and 2nd quarter, I could hear Sabis HC Pat Ochoa imploring his team to “be shot ready”. He wasn’t happy about the sluggish start his offense got off to. Some Bulldogs were passing up shots, for whatever reason.
Most of the scoring in the first 2 quarters came from Hodge and Duggan. Hodge hit two 3s in the 1st quarter; Duggan had 8 points in the first. They both started to catch fire in the second quarter. Duggan had 9 points in the 2nd; Hodge had 7.
Even though Duggan got some buckets in the second, Sabis, overall, was playing good defense. They pressured Duggan further out on the perimeter than the Blue Devils did on Monday. The Bulldogs also made sure to keep a body, forearm or hand on Duggan.
Conversely, Duggan was protecting the paint for Mustangs. I wasn’t keeping stats but I think he had about 8 blocks on Wednesday. He has good anticipation getting to the ball. Also, most of his blocks stay inbounds so his teammates have an opportunity to get the ball.
The best sequence of the 2nd was 2 plays by Hodge. He hit a three on offense and then took a charge on defense. The score at that point was 18-17 Sabis. The Bulldogs were down by 2 but 2 plays by Hodge put them ahead for the rest of the night.
Both of the stars had it going in the first half. The score was tied 22 at halftime. Which team would get more from their other starters and bench players?
(Scoreboard before halftime)
Surprisingly, the third quarter started with 2 technical FTs by Tre Hodge 😳🤔. I didn’t hear a whistle or see an announcement but a couple of Monson players may have said something to one of the referees before halftime 🤷🏽♂️. I didn’t see or hear anything crazy. Hodge split the technical FTs. Sabis got the ball and Hodge hit a 3. The Bulldogs were able to get a quick 4 points and they never looked back.
Another Monson player received a technical foul in the second half. The calls weren’t going Monson’s way, from my perspective. Duggan got a lot of contact on a few drives that should have been called fouls.
The refs did let some contact go when Sabis was on offense so 🤷🏽♂️.
The other players for Sabis came alive in the second half. Jacob Mueller was active on defense, which led to some transition points for him. Matt Considine, Rob Scoville, Jared Denson and London Denson all chipped in to help earn a tough road victory.
The Bulldogs out-scored the Mustangs 20-7 in the 3rd quarter.
Monson couldn’t generate enough offense consistently to make a comeback. Sabis won comfortably 58-45.
Scorers for Sabis:
Tre Hodge - 30 points
Jacob Mueller - 7 points
Jared Denson, Kenny Rogers & Rob Scoville - 5 points each
Sidney Borges, Alex Williams & Matt Considine - 2 points each
Scorers for Monson:
Colby Duggan - 34 points
Danny Fiester - 5 points
Connor Santos - 3 points
Luke Hedspeth - 2 points
Scottie Watson - 1 point
After the game I spoke with Sabis HC Pat Ochoa, Monson F Colby Duggan and Monson HC Dennis Vacon.
🔴Sabis HC Pat Ochoa⚪️
How did you feel coming in to this game?
“I always feel good with this team. We have guys that compete everyday, whether its a game or practice. They understand ultimately the team goal is to get a ‘W’...I’m always confident our team is gonna persevere”.
How did you slow down Duggan tonight?
“Did we slow him down? I don’t think we slowed him down, what did he end up with”?
I don’t know I haven’t seen [the scorebook] yet.
[Laughter] I don’t think we slowed him down. We made things hard for him, contest all his shots, deny him in the post...pressure him - we have guys active on the help side. But a player like that, you can really only contain. I mean he is 6’7” and has the skill set of a Guard. The tallest guy on our team is 6’3”. It was a challenge for sure; he is a good player but i thought our guys worked hard to compete against him”.
Can you talk about what Tre Hodge gave your team tonight?
“Him and Colby were kinda goin’ head-for-head but Tre, he is our captain, he’s our leader, 5 year Varsity player. Been my PG for 4 years. I thought we started the game a little slow, goin’ through the motions and he was able to get us goin’ and hit some shots. He was active defensively. When you have a guy like Tre that can uplift the team, that helps a lot”.
🔵Monson F Colby Duggan⚪️
How did you feel coming in to the game?
“We felt confident. We just came off a big win. Tried to keep the same energy but they brought the intensity and we just didn’t have the legs”.
It seems like your team was getting frustrated out on the floor. What were your coaches telling you on the sideline?
“Stop talkin’, stay calm and play the game”.
What’s it like playing against your AAU teammate Tre Hodge?
“He’s a really good player. He’s tough, quick, good shooter; I mean he has it all. It’s fun though”.
🔵Monson HC Dennis Vacon⚪️
How did you feel coming in to the game today?
“Coming off a tough game against Northampton, I didn’t have a ton of expectations. I didn’t know what to expect, I guess. The funny thing is, is that I work at Sabis so I know all these kids. I had all of them in class today. So there’s been a little chirpin’ goin’ back and forth, so that part of it is really fun. I think we just didn’t have the legs tonight. We kept the game really tight. We kinda shot ourselves in the foot a little bit too with some technicals and chirpin’ to the ref, which you don’t like to see. It’s a great fight. Sabis is a great team”.
What do you tell you players after the technicals?
“It’s a blank slate...you gotta recover from there. We are [in] the game, we can’t gift them points, at any point...”
Do you think the 4 points immediately after halftime changed the momentum of the game?
“Absolutely...can’t shoot yourself in the foot. Everybody on that team [is] quick, physical, can shoot a little bit...”.
Monson plays Northampton tomorrow @ Monson