Monument Mountain boys basketball wins own Monument Mountain Winter Classic
GREAT BARRINGTON — As the postseason appears around the next corner, Dion Brown is starting to look for his own offense a bit more.
That is a scary notion for Berkshire County, the Western Massachusetts Division III tournament field, and as visiting Dracut found out on Tuesday night, the state as whole.
Brown cleared 35 points for the third-straight game, driving the Spartans to an 88-70 victory in the regular season finale. He was named most valuable player of the Monument Mountain Winter Classic, as the hosts raised the championship trophy after downing the high-flying Middies from Eastern Mass.
"For most of the year I've tried to be a pass-first, score-second guard," said Brown. "And we've played really well. So the last couple of games I wanted to see if I could look for my shot first a bit more, and it's worked out. My assist numbers aren't really changing."
Brown still distributed plenty, finding cutting teammates all night long in transition, something the Middies didn't appear ready for.
Dracut ran up 107 points in a victory during Monday night's tournament-opening game. The Spartans (15-5) had a front-row seat to that offensive tsunami.
"You just hope they get lost on the way to the gym," joked Monument head coach Randy Koldys, who told his kids to be ready to run and get back on defense.
It was the visitors who didn't take that advice.
After Connor Hanavan knocked down a pair of corner 3-pointers off kicks from Brown to open the game, Brown himself knocked down a 3-pointer in the eye of his defender with about 20 seconds left in the first quarter. Monument led 19-13 after one, and built out a 16-point lead early in the second. Caden Gidarakos opened the frame with a deep trey, and Brown scored 12 of his 35 in what amounted to a combined 50-point period for both teams. Monument was also the more poised team, with Gidarakos, Kieran Santos and senior captain Nick Robbins all taking charges in the first half.
Dracut, the defending Northern Mass. D-III champion, got 26 points from Faria Zuraraduka and 18 from Adrian Torres, and went on an 8-0 run to get within 36-28 late in the first half.
In front 42-34, Brown found big man Zach Goffin inside for an and-1, and the lead ballooned back to 11. Goffin finished with 13 points for his second double-double of the Classic.
The whistles added up for the Middies, and two starters fouled out before the fourth quarter could begin.
The Spartans got 21 points from Hanavan, who's breakout season has been a driving force behind the team's success. The sophomore saw time last season as a spot-up shooter from outside, but has added considerably to his game.
"He worked so hard over the offseason," said Koldys. "He was just a shooter for us last year, but when he gets working in the paint, driving, and with his defense, that changes us as a team."
With the Middies threatening a bit in the fourth quarter, Hanavan found himself duking it out in the paint with the bigs for offensive rebounds. He was fouled on a putback attempt with 6:04 to play and went to the line to sink both free throws. On the Spartans' next possession, he was again in the paint and put back another miss cleanly and put the game out of reach, 77-55.
"I'm so happy for that kid," Robbins added. "He put in the work, coming off last year when he got some minutes late in the year and just carried it on into this year. He's one of the top scorers in Berkshire County now."
Hanavan was named to the All-Tournament team, along with Zuraraduka and Torres from Dracut, Nate Breault of Granby and Hunter Smith of Gilbert.
In the day's consolation match, Gilbert topped Granby 74-63, behind a gargantuan 54 points by Smith. Smith hit five of his 11, 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Monument will wait for Saturday's seeding meeting to find out where, when and against who its next game will be.
"We don't really know the schedule right now, but whoever we face is going to have to be ready for us," Brown said. "We're a hot team right now."
Auignone 2-2-6, Zuraraduka 8-10-26, Long 1-0-3, Boutang 1-0-2, Torres 8-2-18, Cripps 0-0-0, Santiago 2-0-4, Guerriero 3-1-7, McKay 2-0-4. Totals 27-15-70.
MONUMENT MOUNTAIN (88)
Santos 1-0-2, Gidarakos 3-0-8, Buffoni 0-0-0, Hanavan 8-3-21, Brown 14-6-35, Robbins 2-4-8, Goffin 5-4-13, Harris 0-0-0, Boyko 0-0-0, Kronenberg 0-0-0, Wellenkamp 0-1-1. Totals 33-17-88.
Dracut 13 24 10 23 — 70
Monument 19 26 19 24 — 88
3-point goals — D 1 (Long); MM 5 (Hanavan 2, Gidarakos 2, Brown).
Mike Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @CLNS_Walsh on Twitter and 413-496-6240.
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