Boys basketball: Slow start sinks Pioneer in 68-53 loss to Hoosac Valley at Hoophall Classic (PHOTOS)

Pioneer’s Brayden Thayer (10), right, dribbles to the basket while defended by Hoosac Valley’s Qwanell Bradley  (25) during the Panthers’ 68-53 loss in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday.

Pioneer’s Brayden Thayer (10), right, dribbles to the basket while defended by Hoosac Valley’s Qwanell Bradley  (25) during the Panthers’ 68-53 loss in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Pioneer’s Gavin Gammell (2) dribbles toward the basket against Hoosac Valley during the Panthers’ 68-53 loss in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday.

Pioneer’s Gavin Gammell (2) dribbles toward the basket against Hoosac Valley during the Panthers’ 68-53 loss in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Pioneer’s Alex McClelland (15) drives to the basket against Hoosac Valley during the Panthers’ 68-53 loss in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday.

Pioneer’s Alex McClelland (15) drives to the basket against Hoosac Valley during the Panthers’ 68-53 loss in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Pioneer’s Kurt Redeker (3) surveys the Hoosac Valley defense during the Panthers’ 68-53 loss in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday.

Pioneer’s Kurt Redeker (3) surveys the Hoosac Valley defense during the Panthers’ 68-53 loss in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday.

Pioneer’s Brayden Thayer (10) pulls up for a jump shot against Hoosac Valley during the Panthers’ 68-53 loss in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday.

Pioneer’s Brayden Thayer (10) pulls up for a jump shot against Hoosac Valley during the Panthers’ 68-53 loss in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Pioneer’s Hugh Cyhowski (11), right, battles for a rebound with Hoosac Valley’s Qwanell Bradley (25) during the Panthers’ 68-53 loss in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday.

Pioneer’s Hugh Cyhowski (11), right, battles for a rebound with Hoosac Valley’s Qwanell Bradley (25) during the Panthers’ 68-53 loss in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

The Pioneer bench cheers on their teammates during the Panthers’ 68-53 loss to Hoosac Valley in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday.

The Pioneer bench cheers on their teammates during the Panthers’ 68-53 loss to Hoosac Valley in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Pioneer’s Kurt Redeker pulls up for a jump shot against Hoosac Valley during the Panthers’ 68-53 loss in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday.

Pioneer’s Kurt Redeker pulls up for a jump shot against Hoosac Valley during the Panthers’ 68-53 loss in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Pioneer’s Josh Wood (32) goes to the basket against Hoosac Valley during the Panthers’ 68-53 loss in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday.

Pioneer’s Josh Wood (32) goes to the basket against Hoosac Valley during the Panthers’ 68-53 loss in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Pioneer head coach Scott Thayer shouts instructions to his team during the third quarter of the Panthers’ 68-53 loss to Hoosac Valley in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday.

Pioneer head coach Scott Thayer shouts instructions to his team during the third quarter of the Panthers’ 68-53 loss to Hoosac Valley in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Pioneer’s Alex McClelland (15) defends Hoosac Valley’s Adan Wicks (12) during the Panthers’ 68-53 loss in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday.

Pioneer’s Alex McClelland (15) defends Hoosac Valley’s Adan Wicks (12) during the Panthers’ 68-53 loss in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

By THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer

Published: 01-11-2024 6:22 PM

Modified: 01-12-2024 12:28 PM


SPRINGFIELD — The Hoosac Valley boys basketball team found a groove from deep against Pioneer on Thursday in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College’s Blake Arena. 

Hoosac’s Joey McGovern knocked down three 3-pointers in a row to open the game, setting the tone for how the contest would play out as Hoosac finished the game 9-for-20 from 3. 

The Panthers fell behind 38-22 at the half but stormed back, cutting the deficit to 41-33 late in the third quarter. The Hurricanes closed the frame on a 4-0 run however, and pulled away in the fourth to capture a 68-53 victory. 

“It was a great experience getting to play here,” Pioneer head coach Scott Thayer said. “It’s one the kids earned because you have to be invited to come. I don’t know if the moment got to us a little bit. The last couple weeks we’ve been playing on our heels, not being aggressive, and playing like we deserve something.” 

While it wasn’t the result Pioneer had hoped for, junior guard Brayden Thayer said it was a great experience getting to play in the Hoophall Classic – the same tournament that will feature some of the top high school players and teams in the country over the course of its five-day run. 

“It’s a great environment,” Brayden Thayer said. “I’m thankful to come play here. You see all the big prep teams come play here so it’s a great honor to be recognized and play at the birthplace of basketball. You can say you sat on the same bench as some of the best players in the country.” 

Scott Thayer tried to emphasize to his team the opportunity it had on Thursday, getting to play in a prestigious arena in one of the top high school basketball showcases in the country.

The event, which kicked off with the Pioneer-Hoosac game on Thursday, runs through Monday. Cooper Flagg, the No. 1 recruit in the country who is committed to Duke, will play with his Montverde Academy squad, and nine of the top 10 recruits in the country according to ESPN will be in action.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Retired Montague officer, state trooper commended for 2022 fire response
Greenfield restaurant to be featured on America’s Best Restaurants
Greenfield’s Asa Bouchard competing for Team USA in Prospects by Sports Illustrated Hockey World Cup
City to take over Green River School, though future use remains unclear
Franklin Tech hires aviation instructor
New trash hauler, new pick-up time in Montague

“This is the fun part,” Scott Thayer said. “I sat there during a timeout and told them that they can feel embarrassed, they can feel anything they want. I’m right here with you and have been through this 100 times. You’re playing basketball at Blake Arena. What are we feeling sorry for?” 

The Panthers (7-2) settled in after McGovern — who was named the Hurricanes’ MVP of the game after finishing with 25 points — knocked down three straight 3’s to get the game going. 

After falling behind 11-2, Pioneer responded with a 9-0 run behind a 3 and a basket from Brayden Thayer, and a score inside followed by two free throws from Kurt Redeker to tie the game at 11. 

Qwanell Bradley got inside for two before Trevor Moynihan drained a 3, giving Hoosac a 16-11 lead after one quarter. 

It was Hoosac’s Frank Field who took over in the second quarter. Holding a 23-17 lead, Field knocked down a 3, hit two free throws, then converted an and-one before getting to the rim for two. McGovern added a 3-pointer in that spree that helped Hoosac build a 36-20 lead and ultimately take a 38-22 advantage into the half. 

The Panthers started the second half slow offensively, with Brayden Thayer giving Pioneer its first points of the half with four minutes to go in the third quarter. 

That basket sparked a Panthers run however, as their press forced numerous turnovers to get them back in the game. 

Redeker scored off a turnover, Josh Wood got inside for two, Brayden Thayer swished a 3 and followed it up by scoring off a turnover, cutting the Hurricane lead to 41-33. 

Following a missed 3, McGovern got down court and made a layup to respond. Pioneer missed again on the other end and McGovern made a layup at the buzzer, giving Hoosac a 45-33 lead after three quarters and halting the Panthers run. 

“We cut it to eight, Alex McClelland takes a good three, we stand and watch, they throw it long and score,” Scott Thayer said. “Then they’re up 12 at the end of the quarter. I don’t care about the missed shot if we sprint back and defend. Then we have a chance to take the last shot and be down eight going into the fourth. We expended so much energy getting back in the game.” 

Brayden Thayer, who was named the Panthers’ MVP after scoring a game-high 29 points, poured in 12 points in the fourth quarter, but Hoosac (6-1) outscored Pioneer 23-20 in the final frame to pull away with the victory. 

Redeker scored nine points, dished four assists and pulled down five rebounds, Wood finished with six points, McClelland tallied five points while Hugh Cyhowski recorded four points in the loss. 

Brayden Thayer said Thursday’s loss will only fuel the Panthers moving forward. 

“We have to go to practice every day and want it,” Brayden Thayer said. “The first two and a half quarters we didn’t seem like we wanted it. When we started playing it was too late. It should show us that we have to keep putting in the work and keep grinding. We have to want it. We’ll come back stronger from this.” 

Scott Thayer noted how tough the Hurricanes are to play against, and said Thursday’s game will only help the Panthers in the future. 

“Hoosac is well coached,” Scott Thayer said. “I have a ton of respect for [Hoosac coach Bill Robinson]. He and I have tangled many times. I have a ton of admiration for him and how he handles his program. We knew it was going to be a rock fight but that’s why you schedule these games. If you want to schedule teams and have a certain record, that’s not going to get you to where you want to go at the end.” 

After starting the season with seven straight wins, the Panthers have dropped their last two. Getting back to playing the type of basketball they are capable of is something Thayer said he’s hoping to see from his team moving forward. 

“We need to rediscover who we are,” Scott Thayer said. “The talent is there. Whether we put it together or not remains to be seen. That’s our job as a coaching staff to get them playing the right way.”