Sabis stops Hoosac Valley boys basketball in W. Mass. D-III title game
AMHERST -- Hoosac Valley's calling card on offense all boys basketball season has been its inside-outside attack.
Saturday, the No. 1 seed Sabis Bulldogs' inside-outside attack was more potent, leading them to a 71-56 win over the Hurricanes in the Western Massachusetts Division III final.
"That's usually our game," Hoosac coach Bill Robinson said. "We had no outside game today. I don't think we hit a three today."
Sabis guard Nelson Zayas started the game hot from 3-point land, and in the second half, solid rebounding from Xavier Stamp also helped seal the win.
The Bulldogs' penetration led to open looks for Zayas. The guard knocked down three 3-pointers in the first half, leading the Bulldogs with 13 points at halftime. He added three more 3-pointers in the second half to end with 24 points.
"It's very tough when you've got someone going like Zayas," Robinson said. "If Zayas misses and Stamp's rebounding, and they get second chances and third chances to get the ball back out to Zayas, he's going to hit them."
Sabis looked to attack the Hoosac defense to start. Sabis drove to the basket often, finishing with layups and kicking to shooters.
"We didn't want to just settle for jump shots," Sabis coach John Williams said. "We wanted to attack and force them to play us and get everybody involved.
"We knew they were going to try to key on Nelson, but we didn't want everything to hinge on him. We wanted to be more aggressive offensively."
Zayas did his damage from the outside, but Sabis forward Stamp did the heavy lifting on the inside. Stamp pulled down eight first-half rebounds to go along with eight points. He finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Sabis opened the third quarter on a 6-2 run, putting them up nine to start the second half. Hoosac would battle back with an 8-3 run of its own, capped by a Matt Braman jumper with less than four minutes remaining in the quarter, cutting its deficit to seven.
A Jameson Coughlan layup at the end of the third cut Sabis' lead to five, but a cold final quarter from the floor would doom the Hurricanes.
Zayas opened the fourth with a 3-pointer. The teams traded baskets, and after Matt Koperniak split a pair of free throws, the Hurricanes fell into a lengthy cold streak.
Sabis went on an 8-0 run during that streak, and Hoosac wouldn't score again until Koperniak completed an and-one layup with 1:42 remaining.
After the foul shot, Hoosac still trailed by 11. A Braman layup would be Hoosac's final basket.
"They just beat us," Robinson said. "They're quick. Their athleticism is off the charts -- it's a great team. They're the No. 1 seed for a reason. They took it to us today."
Hoosac guard Sean Ryan-Kut said Sabis played very physical defense to limit the team's scoring.
"They came out in a full-court man [pressure]," he said. "They made it hard for us to start our offense. They really close out on shooters and we couldn't get easy shots."
Sabis started the game with an effective offensive plan, but in the second quarter, Hoosac's offense started to show some life. The inside-outside combo of Trevor Alibozek and Jameson Coughlan helped keep Hoosac in the game.
Coughlan's layup, plus a free throw, cut Sabis' lead to four with midway through the second quarter. Three straight points from Alibozek tied the game at 28 with 1:30 left in the half.
A 3-pointer by Tyvon Hodge and an Amari Brown fastbreak layup at the buzzer allowed Sabis to take a five-point lead into halftime.
Overall, Robinson said once the pain of the loss wears off, his team will appreciate the run it put together this season.
"This was their first taste of the tournament," Robinson said. "They had a heck of a run. Beating Greenfield at home, beating an undefeated Renaissance team. We just came up short today.
"After we get in the bus and go home and sleep it off, we'll look back and say these guys had a very special season."
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