PALMER >> There's a mystery guest coming to the Curry Hicks Cage next week. Well, it's a mystery to everyone but them.
The sixth-seeded Mount Greylock boys are going to the Cage for the first time since 2012 after knocking off third-seeded Palmer 52-45 Friday night. The Mounties iced the game in the fourth quarter as Pat Storie scored 12 of his team-high 17 points in the final stanza.
"No one believed in us," Storie said after the game. "We lost all seven of our seniors last year. It was basically our starting five and the first two off the bench.
"No one believed in us. It was just a rebuilding year. Look where we are now."
Where the Mounties are now advancing is to the Cage on Tuesday night at 6:30 where they'll play second-seeded Easthampton, 80-54 winners over No. 7 Drury. It will be a doubleheader for the Mounties, whose girls team will play Drury in the 4:30 opener.
"This is what the whole season's been about since Day One. Coming in to tryouts, kids getting cut, doing our ladders, putting in the work every day," said Zach Ronnow. "The whole team comes together and everybody knows their roles. This is what everybody has been working for since Day One, and that's why it happened.
Zach Ronnow was one of three Mounties who finished up in double figures. He had 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds before fouling out with 2:52 left in the fourth quarter. But without the 6-foot-5 center, Greylock still held the Panthers to just three free throws in that final 2:52. Point guard Sam Dils added 11 for the Mounties.
"This is a very young team. We don't consider ourselves young any more," Greylock head coach Bob Thistle said. "We had three goals. One was to make the tournament, one was to win the South and the third one is to make the Cage.
"I just told the boys we have to make a new goal, and that's to play on Saturday."
The months of February and March have been very good to the Mounties. Greylock is perfect (8-0) since losing to Hoosac Valley on Jan. 30.
"They're a really strong team. They've won eight in a row in the Berkshire County, which is an amazingly tough league," said Palmer coach Ryan Minns. "It didn't happen by accident."
Greylock held Palmer's Matt Niemczura to seven points. Niemczura led his team with 115 field goals and 56 made 3-point baskets. Jack Cookish took up some of the slack with a game-high 24 points, but it wasn't enough.
In each of the first three quarters, the Mounties took some early punches as the Panthers opened each of the first three stanzas with runs. Wobbly-legged as they might have been, the Mounties regained their equilibrium. Especially in the third quarter when Palmer opened the quarter with an 8-0 lead to turn a three-point deficit into a five-point lead.
Greylock's defense held Palmer to three free throws over the final 5:30 of the half, save for a buzzer-beating shot by Zach Handzel. The Mounties went into the fourth quarter up 38-35.
If you're looking for a real momentum changer, it came at the start of the fourth quarter.
Greylock inbounded the ball under the Palmer basket to start the quarter and Brady Foehl threw a pass over the Palmer defense. Storie caught it in stride and scored on an uncontested drive to the basket. Now, it was Palmer with the wobbly legs.
"We run it every day in practice just to get a good look. It works every day, so we put it into a game once or twice," said Storie. "Brady just threw a beautiful pass. It landed right in my hands and I was able to make the layup."
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Panthers cut Greylock's lead to 43-40, but the Mountie defense rose up and held Palmer to five points and just one basket the rest of the way.
Thistle said that his team's success wasn't just because of the starters. Ronnow fouled out while Storie and Sean McCormack had four fouls each. The Greylock coach emphasized the work of reserves Aaron Ronnow, Cal Filson, Zach Condon and Cam Hadley to help the Mounties stay in the game.
"The bottom line is these kids stuck together. It was a grind-out kind of game and it wasn't going to be easy," said Thistle. "They weren't going to give it to us in their building.
"Hats off to Palmer, We came here, we took it and we're going to the Curry Hicks Cage."
MOUNT GREYLOCK (52)
Dils 4-1-10, A. Ronnow 1-2-5, Filson 0-0-0, McCormack 2-0-4, Foehl 1-1-3, Storie 5-6-17, Condon 0-0-0, Z. Ronnow 3-3-12, Hadley 0-0-0. Totals 16-13-52.
McCarthy 1-2-4, Niemczura 2-3-7, Handzel 1-2-4, Bucknam 1-3-5, Remillard 0-0-0, Tenczar 0-0-0, Ladue 0-1-1, Cookish 7-5-24. Totals 12-16-45
3-point goals — MG 7 (Z. Ronnow 3, A. Ronnow, Dils, Foehl, Storie). P 5 (Cookish 5).
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.