Photo Gallery | Hoosac Valley boys basketball falls to Pope Francis

HOLYOKE — Hoosac Valley boys basketball coach Bill Robinson said his players did not play with the toughness typically found from a Hurricanes team. Against Pope Francis, the 'Canes were beat to loose balls and on the glass, struggling to handle the Cardinals' quickness. The uninspired effort led to a big first-half deficit, as Pope Francis won 60-34, in the final game of the BasketBull Tournament at Holyoke Community College on Friday.

"[Pope Francis] is a heck of a ballclub," Robinson said. "We were intimidated tonight. ... They were more athletic, quicker and better."


The Cardinals used their length and athleticism to shut down Hoosac's passing lanes. When guarding the ball, the Cards stuck tight to Hoosac's ballhandlers, not allowing any room for them to run the offense. The tight defense led to turnovers, which led to transition baskets. In the half court, post player Anthony Reynolds caused problems for Hoosac inside. He used his strength to establish position inside and finish through contact. He had 15 points and six rebounds. Brain Callahan also played well inside, adding 11 points and eight rebounds.

"Our guards aren't big, but our bigs have good size and if our hands are down by our knees — nothing good is going to happen," Pope Francis coach Justin Dalessio said of his team's defensive tenacity. "I really stress [active hands]. I don't even care if we steal it, I want deflections. ... [Having active hands] is a habit they need to get into and when we do it, good things happen."

Hoosac showed signs of life in the third quarter, as Matt Koperniak and Jameson Coughlan started the half with consecutive buckets. The 'Canes could not sustain offense, however, and Pope Francis maintained a 20-plus point lead throughout. Coughlan led Hoosac with 16 points and four rebounds. Koperniak added seven points, four rebounds and five assists. Javon Reynolds added a team-high eight rebounds.

Hoosac Valley’s Matt Koperniak takes a diving shot during a basketball game against Pope Francis.
Hoosac Valley's Matt Koperniak takes a diving shot during a basketball game against Pope Francis. (Stephanie Zollshan — The Berkshire Eagle)

Hoosac looked completely out of sync for the entire first half. The Cardinals forced 14 first-half turnovers, taking a 23-point lead into the second half.

The 'Canes didn't score their first basket until the 1:15 mark in the first quarter, as Koperniak hit Coughlan for a layup.

Reynolds led Pope Francis with 13 points in the first half.

The loss is the 'Canes' second in a row, and despite returning a majority of its players, they've not played like the defending Division III state runner-up. Robinson said his team's struggles can be attributed to an early-season adjustment period, and he vowed to expect improved play as the season progresses.

"We've got to teach them a little bit. That's what I've got to do as a coach and with my staff," he said. "Teach them how to begin offense. ... We weren't mentally here again, but we'll get there. I promise you, this team is not that bad."



Bethea 4-0-8, Foster 2-0-4, Callahan 5-1-11, Reynolds 7-0-15, Martinez 4-0-8, Mulcahy 1-0-2, Feering 1-0-2, Dade 4-2-10. Totals: 28-3-60.


Hall 0-1-1, Rousseau 0-2-2, Koperniak 3-1-7, Mendel 2-0-4, Barrow 0-0-0, Coughlan 7-2-16, Hayer 0-0-0, Carlow 0-0-0, Lancia 0-0-0, Sistrunk 1-1-4, Reynolds 0-0-0. Totals: 13-7-30

Pope Francis1516151460
Hoosac Valley35151134

3-point goals — PF 1 (Reynolds 1). HV 1 (Sistrunk 1).

Contact Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252