By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
3/2/22 * 8:40 AM
(WEST SPRINGFIELD) - West Springfield HS hosted Marlboro HS in the Preliminary Round of the new MIAA State Tournament. In previous years, the MIAA State Tournament started with sectionals - West, Central, North & South. The four winners of the sectionals would play for the State Final. This year, and moving forward, the MIAA has eliminated sectionals. There are 5 divisions. The top 32 teams in each division make the tournament regardless of their record. Teams that have won 50% of their games or more are seeded after the top 32. Now, teams from anywhere in the Commonwealth can play each other.
The first quarter was closely contested. Each team took a couple of possessions to settle into the game. West Side led after one quarter 12-9.
Marlboro took control of the game in the 2nd quarter. Eli Hintz made 2 FTs for Marlboro that tied the game at 16. They finally took there first lead at the four minute mark, 20-18. West Side went cold in the second quarter. Their missed shots lead to multiple Marlboro transition baskets. West Side regained the lead 25-24, after an offensive rebound and put-back by Mekhi Smith. Marlboro recaptured the lead and was up at halftime 28-27.
In the third quarter, West Side was still having issues with their transition defense. Their missed shots turned into easy layups for Marlboro. Marlboro led 35-28 halfway through the third. West Side stopped shooting jumpers and started to drive the ball to the basket. Hasanat “Hass” Ashraf got to the basket and finished some tough layups. Marlboro’s half-court offense wasn’t executing well. They missed a lot of open jump-shots. They also couldn’t get to the basket as easily in their half-court offense.
(“Hass“ Ashraf drives and makes a layup)
Joe Kosior made two big threes in the third that changed the game’s momentum. The first 3 he hit, tied the game. The second 3 gave West Side the lead 38-35.
The game was close in the fourth quarter. The teams traded baskets for most of the last eight minutes. Ashraf made another tough layup in the lane. That basket was answered by Marlboro’s Tony Santiago with a 3. West Side was slightly ahead 58-56.
(Tony Santiago makes 3)
Marlboro couldn’t even the game and West Side ran the clock out.
West Side beat Marlboro 62-56.
Joe Kosior scored a game-high 26 points. Ashraf scored 14 points. Smith and Joe Ingegneri scored 9 points each.
(Joe Ingegneri makes 3)
Tony Santiago scored a team-high 25 points for Marlboro.
After the game, I spoke with West Side HC Joel Aponte.
How do you feel about the new MIAA State Tournament format?
JA: I really liked it. It’s nice to be able to play someone you don’t play all season especially in a ‘win or go home’ type of event…I actually enjoyed it and it’s nice we had a home game”.
Can you tell us what Kosior and Ashraf meant for you tonight?
JA: I think Hasanat has grown to be our PG. We needed someone who can take care of the basketball, who can control the offense…Kosior has been one of our consistent guys…When times are tough, he looks to make plays. He was able to make some huge plays today”.
West Side moves on to play @ Pembroke, scheduled for Friday 3/4/22 @ 6:30 PM.
(Joe Kosior makes a layup)
(”Hass” Ashraf makes a 3)
(Layup by Eli Hintz)