Friday's 52-45 win on the road against No. 3 Palmer in the quarterfinals of the Western Mass. Division III tournament allowed the Mount Greylock boys basketball team to cross off the final item of its preseason check list — advance the to the Curry Hicks Cage.
Now, the No. 6 Mounties have their sights set on a new goal — playing in the Western Mass final.
And Greylock coach Bob Thistle said his players aren't ready to go home yet.
"The goal is to get to the Cage so you can compete for the title," he said. "Getting to the Cage means you're one of four teams left in the division. Our kids are very competitive and I know they're not satisfied. Our next goal is to get to Saturday."
The Greylock boys 6 p.m. tip tonight against No. 2 Easthampton follows the Greylock girls' 4:30 p.m game against Drury, setting up the possibility of an all-Greylock D-III final.
Thistle said its great for the program to have two teams in the semifinals, but he knows Easthampton presents a strong challenge for his players.
Zach Crisafulli and Rapheal Coleman lead a fast-paced, guard-oriented Eagles offense. They advanced to the Cage with an 80-54 win over Drury, with Crisafulli leading all scorers with 24 points while Coleman had 17.
"Easthampton is a quick, athletic team that likes to push the ball in transition," Thistle said. "We have to work hard to get back on defense. They like to drive the basketball and get into the paint and use full-court pressure."
Thistle added that it's important for his team to control the tempo against the Eagles by not letting the pace get too fast.
Fortunately for the Mounties, they have 6-foot-5 post player Zach Ronnow. Ronnow is a capable scorer from the inside and outside, but his post play will let the Mounties play a more half-court oriented game. Once in the half court, Ronnow's passing ability should keep the Eagles honest, not allowing them to focus on any one Greylock player.
"Our offense has evolved," Thistle said. "Ronnow, Sean McCormack and Pat Storie have picked up the pace for us offensively. Sam Dils, and Brady Foehl off the bench, all want to contribute. We have a balanced inside-outside game, guys that want to share the ball and are team-centered."
The Mounties know they're the lowest seed left in the tournament, but they've also shown that seedings and regular season accomplishment do not matter in the postseason.
"The kids have used the fact that we haven't been ranked and feel as though people have overlooked us as motivation," Thistle said. "They're playing with a lot of confidence right now. They want to prove that they belong in the tournament, and have as good a chance as anybody to compete."
Contact Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252