Howard Herman | Designated Hitter: Berkshire County hoop teams upping intensity, excitement for Western Mass. title runs

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Every postseason is a great time for student-athletes, parents, coaches and fans. When it comes to intensity, in games and in the schedule, nothing beats the winter sports postseason.

One look at my schedule planner for last week and this week, and you'll understand why.

Five days, six games this past week. The week upcoming won't be any less hectic.

This is not a complaint. In fact, it is just the opposite. When the Western Massachusetts high school basketball tournaments begin play, we don't know where we'll be or who we'll see. It all adds to the excitement of this time period as my favorite of the school year.

All playoffs are great, and the excitement can be off the chart. But, between the high schools and the local colleges, there's much less time to catch one's breath in the winter season than in any other season.

The high school basketball season has given us 1,000-point scorers, new school record holders and one player — Mount Everett's Gwendolyn Carpenter — who has become the all-time leading scorer in Berkshire County history.

To put her in the same category with former Lenox High School standout Samantha Herrick is high praise indeed.

All of this is, however, prelude to the main event — the Western Massachusetts basketball semifinals and finals.

Two schools, Taconic and Wahconah have an opportunity to do what only Hoosac Valley has done recently, and that is win boys and girls championships in the same years. The Hurricanes scored the daily double in the 2015 and then the 2016 tournaments.

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It is always a successful season when Berkshire County can get teams to the Western Mass. semifinals. This year the county has teams in each of its six eligible divisions.

The county is also guaranteed at least one team playing for the championship, as Hoosac and Wahconah will play each other in one semifinal of the Division III girls bracket. It does beat what happened last year, when Wahconah and Hoosac found themselves playing in a quarterfinal game.

There are a lot of questions that will be answered over the next seven days. Can the Taconic boys do something unheralded for that school and win back-to-back Western Mass. Division II titles. This year, coach Bill Heaphy's Braves are the top seed, so they will head to Western New England with a load of expectations packed in their equipment bag.

Will Carpenter's magical senior season continue, and will Mount Everett get its basketball title? The Eagles got to the Cage in the 2016 championship game, losing to Quaboag. That was when Carpenter was a freshman.

Who wins the rubber game between Hoosac and Wahconah? It's quite the rivalry featuring two of the better coaches in Western Massachusetts.

Do the Drury boys get to keep their Unfinished Business Tour going? The Blue Devils got to this point a year ago and lost a one-point heartbreaker to Pioneer. Will history repeat itself?

Those questions, and many more, will be answered this week. We'll be there all week, and you should be too.

You need to find your way to either the Curry Hicks Cage at UMass or to Western New England University this week to watch the local teams play for the right to hang another banner in their gyms.

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.


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