Berkshire County boys and girls basketball power rankings, Week 5: No changes at the top as league play gets going
The more things change, the more things stay the same. At least, something like that. Week 5 of the Berkshire County hoops power rankings see the Taconic boys and Hoosac Valley girls unmoved from their top spots, while the Drury and Taconic girls remain in second place also.
That is for good reason. The No. 1 teams have established themselves as the cream of their respective crops and only a loss (or two) will see that change. The Drury boys solidified their spot with a three-win week, capped by a thumping of Pittsfield on Friday. Also of note, we caught up with Drury's Reece Racette for our Athlete Spotlight feature this week. Flip over to C2 to find that.
The start of the week will see a milestone go down. Lee's Ben Harding is one point away from 1,000 for his career, and his Wildcats are at rival Lenox tonight. Get there early, Harding could very well score the opening bucket to get the celebrations out of the way and put the focus on the game. Harding will be the second county player to reach the scoring milestone this season, and there's a third that could (should) come soon in Hoosac Valley's Lexi Mercier. For those keeping count, that would make two, 1,000-point scorers for Ron Wojcik this season, joining senior classmate Alie Mendel. With Mount Everett's Gwendolyn Carpenter also setting her school's scoring mark, it's been a great winter season for upperclassmen that can put the ball in the basket.
Games will take on even more meaning this week, as squads get into the heart of their league schedule.
That leads us to another game worth watching on Monday night as the Wahconah boys head to Drury for a Berkshire North clash. Wahconah got Tom Burris back last week, and he only scored 17 and 21 in the two games back. With Kevin Huban ready to ignite at any moment, plus another tall tree inside in Tom O'Connor, Wahconah might make a run for the hottest team of the second half of the year. Drury, of course, would like to have a word or two about that.
Two solid girls games to look out for this week come on Friday. The Monument girls head to Pittsfield to face a Generals team trending in the right direction. The Spartans have been a Jekyll-and-Hyde team of late, but if the right Monument team shows up this one will be worth the price of admission. Up in Cheshire, all eyes will be on the rematch of last year's Western Mass. Division III quarterfinals, as the Wahconah girls face Hoosac Valley. With almost the entire team back from last year's upset loss, expect a fired-up Hurricanes team, and a gym that will fill up quickly.
Now, onto the rankings.
1. Taconic (7-3, Last week: 1)
The Braves extended their winning streak to six straight after beating Longmeadow in their lone game of the week. Taconic has scored at least 61 points in each game during the winning streak, and the Longmeadow win (80-42) was the second straight game that Taconic reached 80 points. Quentin Gittens returned to the court in the win, and despite scoring just one point, his presence will alter the way teams gameplan for the Braves. Will more open looks bound to come, Taconic's arsenal keeps getting stronger.
2. Drury (9-1, Last week: 2)
The Blue Devils played three games last week and won all of them, and in the process extended their winning streak to six. Drury won by at least 18 in all three of the wins. Against Pittsfield to cap off the week, Drury got its usual production from Reece Racette and Scott McGuire, but Max Daugherty came up with some big plays early to keep Drury on the right track. It's nearly impossible to win 2-on-5, so the Blue Devils will keep looking for more and more production from role players like Daugherty to boost the known commodities the team already possesses. After Monday's game against Wahconah, Drury will get a week to rest and practice.
3. Monument Mountain (9-1, Last week: 3)
The Spartans picked up two wins this week to keep their spot in the top 3 and earn another blurb. The Spartans had to gut out a 63-60 win against Lenox to ap the week, but 17 points from Ty Higgins in that game is a positive sign for Randy Koldy's squad. Dylan Brownson also came up big according to his coach, and if those two can get firing along with Dion Brown and Noel Powell, Monument has something cooking. Monument is now winners of three straight since a lopsided loss to Taconic.
4. Pittsfield (7-3, Last week: 4)
5. Wahconah (5-2, Last week: 6)
6. Lee (7-4, Last week: 5)
7. Hoosac Valley (5-3, Last week: 7)
8. Mount Greylock (3-6, Last week: 10)
9. Lenox (3-9, Last week: 9)
10. McCann Tech (4-4, Last week: 8)
11. Mount Everett (2-7, Last week: 11)
1. Hoosac Valley (7-1, Last week: 1)
Up at practice this week, senior guard Alie Mendel noted that this might be the deepest Hoosac team she's been a part of. Considering she's won two Western Mass. titles, that should scare fans of other teams in Division III. The Hurricanes had a slow week, playing to just one win against Greylock. As noted earlier, Lexi Mercier is nearing 1,000 for her career. Entering the week, she needs 86 to reach the milestone. She's averaging 17.6 per game, so that means if she holds averages, she'll do it in five games. If you're curious, the schedule for the 'Canes is: Jan. 15 at Drury, Jan. 18 vs. Wahconah, Jan. 22 at Pittsfield, Jan. 24 vs. Monument and Jan. 26 vs. Medfield. If Mercier does it in the fifth game, it would be during the Coaches vs. Cancer showcase game against Medfield.
2. Taconic (7-1, Last week: 2)
Two double-digit wins for the Braves keeps them behind Hoosac in the pecking order. Taea Bramer continues to find her role on the team, scoring 25 and 18 in the wins over Lee and Drury, respectively, to take over as the team's leading scorer. Ciany Conyers isn't a bad second option, and Ahliya Phillips is right behind them. As the season turns to its second half, the Braves only have more and more room for improvement on an already good side.
3. Pittsfield (7-3, Last week: 4)
It's hard to knock a team out of the top 3 that's on an eight-game winning streak, but then again the PHS girls are winners of four straight after an out-of-state loss during the holiday break. Pittsfield had to play three times last week, including back-to-back wins over Lenox and Drury. Random fact: Natasha Shade scored exactly 11 points in all three games last week. Another fact: Lexi Sondrini nearly doubled her career-high with 20 against Lee to end the week. One last one: Alexis Garvey broke the 30-point barrier with 30 even against Drury. That was the second time this season she set a new career high (she scored 29 against MAU on Dec. 18).
4. Wahconah (8-1, Last week: 3)
5. Drury (3-3, Last week: 5)
6. Mount Everett (4-6, Last week: 6)
7. Monument Mountain (5-3, Last week: 7)
8. Mount Greylock (2-6, Last week: 11)
9. Lenox (2-7, Last week: 8)
10. McCann Tech (6-2, Last week: 7)
11. Lee (3-6, Last week: 10)
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