GREAT BARRINGTON -- The Monument Mountain boys basketball team controlled the pace of the game on both ends of the floor, capturing a 64-48 win over Pioneer Valley in the opening round of the Western Massachusetts Division III tournament.
The Spartans played under control the entire game, even when their shots weren't falling early.
Pioneer showed pressure throughout the game, and tried to trap Monument ball handlers at halfcourt as well. After playing to a 22-22 halftime score, Monument started clicking on offense and defense in the second half.
"I thought they did a great job of doubling up on the ball, rotating to the weak side -- just an outstanding defensive effort on their part," Pioneer Valley coach David Hastings said. "We were hoping [our press] would get a couple turnovers and get some scoring in transition. But they handled it well."
Next for Monument is a matchup against No. 2 seed Renaissance on Friday.
Jason Laramee controlled the paint for Monument. The Spartans' big man had four blocks in the first half to go along with four rebounds on the night.
"I came out really intense -- I was feeling it," Laramee said. "We love to control the pace of the game. If we do really good on defense it turns over to our offense.
The Spartans' defense really clamped down in the third quarter, holding Pioneer Valley to just nine points.
On offense, the Spartans used a balanced attack, putting four players in double figures. Cam Powell and Branden Perry led with 12 points each; they each pulled down six rebounds as well. Peter Oggiani had 11 points; Hezekiah Adams had 10 and five rebounds.
Monument coach Mike Saporito said Adams' energy, along with the contribution from Taylor White, really helped the team.
"We got huge contributions out of some key players that need to play well for us if we're going to play our best," Saporito said. "We played good defense in the third quarter, but I felt like we gave up too many driving lanes and I felt we gave up too many shots in the first half.
"We held them to 22 points in the first half. ... I felt like we really didn't play good defense. But we played good defense in the third quarter."
Offensively, the Spartans broke down Pioneer Valley's press, leading to transition baskets.
A layup and free throw by Oggiani gave Monument a three-point lead to start the second half. A 3-pointer from Pioneer Valley's Lee Doiron tied the score at 28 on the next possession, but Monument closed the quarter on a 15-6 run, capped by Adams' layup at the buzzer.
"I couldn't be more proud of the guys," Oggiani said. "My shot wasn't falling, but it gives me confidence that I don't have to be the only guy scoring. We have other guys that can step up. That's key in tournament games."
With the game in hand, Monument senior Bobby Kinne took the floor to hold the ball as the clock hit zero.
Kinne is dealing with complications from a concussion he suffered during the season. As the clock wound down, the crowd shouted Kinne's name. Saporito said it was a special moment for everyone in attendance.
"It's such an emotional thing for us," he said. "I wanted to check with his parents and I was able to make eye contact with them in the stands.
"Bobby is the heart, soul and brains of our team. We love him dearly, and I wanted him to put his uniform on one more time."
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