Photo Gallery | McCann Tech boys basketball tops Pathfinder
NORTH ADAMS — The McCann Tech boys basketball team felt no pressure heading into Senior Night with its playoff hopes in the balance.
The Hornets were missing several players, including starter Collin Racette (vacation), against Pathfinder. That forced several players to step into new roles — and they responded.
Ethan Sheldon led the way with 19 points and Adam Rodriguez added 13 points and six rebounds, giving McCann a 56-45 win on Thursday. The decision sets up a must-win game against Hampden Charter on Monday if McCann (9-10) wants to qualify for postseason play.
McCann coach Luis Carmona said despite playing short-handed and him having to coach exclusively from the bench while dealing with injuries he suffered from a car accident in January, his players continue to give maximum effort.
"It's all about kids stepping up," he said. "If a kid knows you believe in him, he'll go out there and hustle every minute for you. That's what's happening now. They believe and they work."
The Hornets used their high-energy approach to overcome a slow start and pull away down the stretch. Pathfinder jumped out to an 8-2 first-quarter lead, but Rodriguez ended the rally with a 3-pointer. Sheldon added a jumper and Jake Tower fed Billy Galipeau for an easy layup, giving the host a 9-8 lead at the end of the first.
Pathfinder took its final lead of the game on Andrew Roman's 3-pointer with 4 minutes and 25 seconds left in the second quarter. Sheldon responded with four straight points and Rodgriuez ended the half with another 3-pointer, putting the Hornets up six.
Rodriguez is not known for his 3-point shooting, but he sank three treys against the Pioneers and his teammates fed off the spark he provided.
"I very seldom see Adam shoot 3's, even in practice," Tower said. "When he's out here doing in it games it really gives us energy."
McCann's energy allowed it to run away from Pathfinder in the second half. Jake Allard's 3-pointer brought the Pioneers within three to start the third, but the Hornets answered with a 9-0 run, going up 32-20. Pathfinder did not get closer than nine points for the remainder of the game.
"We just outpaced them," Rodriguez said. "We were running the fastbreak and they couldn't do anything because they could not get back on defense."
A win on Monday would clinch McCann's third straight Western Massachusetts Division IV berth and first under first-year coach Carmona. Despite the high stakes, Rodriguez said the team must focus on performing its best on the court.
"It's scary," Rodriguez said of thinking about the possibility of his career at McCann being over after Monday's game. "But if we win we keep playing and we have more and more chances to win. ... There's no such thing as pressure. You just need to learn how to cope with it."
Lanue 2-3-7, Roman 8-2-20, Olivera 1-1-3, Allard 4-1-11, Manast 2-0-4. Totals: 17-7-48.
Galipeau 1-0-2, Lincoln 1-1-3, Lemire 1-2-5, Cellana 2-1-5, Sheldon 8-2-19, Delmolino 1-0-3, Tower 3-0-6, Rodriguez 5-0-13. Totals: 22-6-56.
3-point goals — P 4 (Roman 2, Allard 2). MT: 6 Rodriguez 3, Delmolino, Sheldon, Lemire).