Girls basketball: Mohawk Trail doubles up Smith Voc for fifth victory (PHOTOS)

Mohawk Trail’s Rachel Pease drives the lane while defended by Smith Voc’s Caitlin Willard during the Warriors’ 46-23 victory in Buckland on Thursday night.

Mohawk Trail’s Rachel Pease drives the lane while defended by Smith Voc’s Caitlin Willard during the Warriors’ 46-23 victory in Buckland on Thursday night. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Mohawk Trail’s Rachel Pease, left, and Smith Voc’s Sofia Zina vie for a rebound in Buckland Thursday night.

Mohawk Trail’s Rachel Pease, left, and Smith Voc’s Sofia Zina vie for a rebound in Buckland Thursday night. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Mohawk Trail’s Natalie Lanoue (2) drives the lane against Smith Voc’s Makayla Tatro during the Warriors’ 46-23 win in Buckland on Thursday night.

Mohawk Trail’s Natalie Lanoue (2) drives the lane against Smith Voc’s Makayla Tatro during the Warriors’ 46-23 win in Buckland on Thursday night. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Mohawk Trail’s Riley Giard (13) is defended by Smith Voc’s Jayanna Daniels in Buckland Thursday night.

Mohawk Trail’s Riley Giard (13) is defended by Smith Voc’s Jayanna Daniels in Buckland Thursday night. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Mohawk Trail’s Rachel Pease goes up for a layup against Smith Voc in Buckland Thursday night.

Mohawk Trail’s Rachel Pease goes up for a layup against Smith Voc in Buckland Thursday night. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Mohawk Trail’s Bella Pettengill and Riley Giard vie for a rebound with Smith Voc’s Jayanna Daniels in Buckland Thursday night.

Mohawk Trail’s Bella Pettengill and Riley Giard vie for a rebound with Smith Voc’s Jayanna Daniels in Buckland Thursday night. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Smith Voc’s Makayla Tatro goes up for a layup in Buckland Thursday night.

Smith Voc’s Makayla Tatro goes up for a layup in Buckland Thursday night. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 02-08-2024 9:06 PM

Modified: 02-08-2024 9:27 PM


BUCKLAND — The Mohawk Trail girls basketball team came out firing against Smith Vocational on Thursday night.

Despite it being Senior Night, the Warriors kept their emotions in check from the opening tip — as they raced out to an 11-3 lead and never looked back.

Behind a career-high 23 points from senior Rachel Pease, Mohawk Trail rolled to a 46-23 win over the Vikings to sweep the season series.

From start to finish, Pease dominated all phases of the game.

“It wasn’t easy for her last year winning just one game, because she really pushes herself and has high demands,” Mohawk Trail head coach Steve Bzomowski said of Pease. “She’s hung in there, and every time there was a difficulty, she’d bounce back. Tonight was the best bounce-back of them all.”

Bzomowski was proud of how his team remained focused even with senior night festivities taking place. And as for those three seniors (Pease, Kaylin Sumner and Riley Giard), they’ve each played an integral role in their own ways throughout their careers.

“They’ve meant a lot to this program,” Bzomowski said of the seniors. “I told them their legacy was gonna be what leadership they imparted on the team, not how many points they score. They’re great kids and even better teammates.”

After falling behind 1-0 on a Jayanna Daniels free throw,  the Warriors (5-12) ripped off the game’s next nine points, includ ing two 3-pointers from Pease. Mohawk Trail used an effective half-court trap defense that flustered the Smith Voc ball handlers, leading to several fast break opportunities.

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Vikings head coach Kristen Marciniec tipped her hat to the Warriors’ defense, and admitted they were the better team on Thursday.

“That’s a great team over there,” Marciniec said. “They’re quick, everyone can shoot, and they just outplayed us tonight. Plain and simple.”

Following the initial burst that eventually put Mohawk Trail ahead 19-8, Smith Voc rattled off six straight points to get within five late in the second quarter. Makayla Tatro was responsible for five of those points and gave some much-needed life to the Vikings.

Then Mohawk Trail turned on the afterburners, and a game-changing run soon ensued. The Warriors scored seven unanswered points to end the first half with a 26-14 advantage.

But they didn’t stop there.

Pease converted a layup out of halftime, Natalie Lanoue and Abi Dobias each made one free throw and Pease banked home three more easy field goals. Smith Voc only scored one field goal in between 17 Mohawk Trail points across the end of the second and entire third quarter.

“Tonight, it was communication on defense and crisper passes,” Bzomowski said when asked what built that lead. “We just knew when to trap and when not to trap, and it made our defense really tough tonight.”

A huge reason why the Warriors were able to pull away in the third quarter is because Tatro, the Vikings’ leading scorer this season, left the game with an apparent injury early in the frame.

As a player with not only great skill, but also a ton of varsity experience, it hurt Smith Voc not having her on the floor. The Vikings scored only nine second-half points.

“Well obviously things change since that’s our leading scorer,” Marciniec said. “It just puts a lot of pressure on the rest of the kids who aren’t used to being that scorer.”

Maggie Lauder led the way with 10 points for Smith Voc, Tatro scored seven before exiting and Sofia Zina chipped in four points.

The Vikings (8-6) are still likely to make the Division 4 state tournament because of their winning record. They turn around and play Baystate Academy on Friday night at 6:30 p.m.

Aside from Pease’s 23, Bella Pettengill added eight points, Lanoue scored seven points and Abi Dobias chipped in four points in what was Mohawk Trail’s final regular season game of the season.

Mahar 40, Hopkins 21 - Nevaeh Scribner went for a game-high 14 points in the Senators' dominant Franklin County League North win on Thursday night at Reed Gymnasium in Hadley.

Irati Martinez aided the effort with 11 points for Mahar (7-10), which hosts Hopkins again on Friday night.

Pioneer 66, Athol 23 – The Panthers cruised to a lopsided Franklin County League South victory on Thursday night in Athol.

Pioneer capped its regular season with a 13-5 overall record, winning for the fourth time in a row. Athol dropped to 2-16.

Late Wednesday results

Wrestling

Athol 37, Franklin Tech 37 — The Eagles won seven of the 12 matches contested, but points were shared between the two Suburban League North rivals on Wednesday night via a league tie.

Winning matches for Franklin Tech were Maxon Brunette (126 pounds), Landon Purington (132), Connor Herzig (138), Madix Whitman (144), Wyatt Whitman (150), Izaya Romer (175) and Dillon Laffond (285).

Athol winners on the mat were Abduli Gilmore (120), Aiden Kirwan (157), Riley Reed (165), Timothy Gerry (190) and Douglas Monte (215).