By Ethan Kapinos and Spencer Gorczyca
CHICOPEE- This past Tuesday January 7th, Chicopee High boys varsity basketball went head-to-head against Minnechaug Regional High School in a home game. Pacers’ Kobe Parker (#11) put on a display of offensive domination and clutch game-ending blocks to lead the Pacers to tacking on yet another victory to their season record.
“We’re feeling great after our big win against Chicopee Comp. Our goal is the same every game– to keep improving. We just need our defense to play hard and to push the ball to take this game,” said Chicopee Pacers Head Coach Steve Menard pre game.
Chicopee quickly took the lead after winning the jump ball and sinking a layup 4 seconds in. Minnechaug (Chaug) and Chicopee went back-and-forth shortly thereafter for a few minutes, with Chaug’s Matthew Devine splashing a few 3’s and the Pacers’s Kobe Parker and Tah-Rhelle Bennefield putting in solid layups.
The Pacers would later snatch momentum off slick ball handling by Kobe Parker which led to 2 successful foul shot attempts. The Pacers dominated the 2nd half of the quarter with lockdown defense and successful fast breaks to put themselves at a 20-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Chicopee kept their feet on the gas pedal, putting up more points in the 2nd quarter as a result of controlled ball movement and sloppy defense by Minnechaug. Later in the quarter, the Falcons started picking up the pace and put in a few layups off successful fast break attempts. A minute later, the Pacers would regain their momentum coming off a huge defensive block by Daimian Ocasio.
After a few rushes back-and-forth down the court, Minnechaug quickly took control with a few successful drives down the court, putting in a few shots from inside the paint. After a solid offensive performance by Chicopee, the game was in their hands with a commanding 34-24 lead at the end of the first half.
Chicopee’s Jo Paul McKrieth started off the 3rd quarter by powering his way through Chaug’s sloppy defensive play, putting in a layup 30 seconds into the quarter. Minnechaug later put up 4 points off of jump shots in the paint in an attempt to get themselves back in the game.
Minnechaug, however, lacked offensively throughout the quarter, only putting up 7 points. The Pacers lacked on offense in the quarter, as well, but managed to up their score by 11 throughout thanks to strong ball movement and successful fast breaks.
In the final minute of the 3rd quarter, Chicopee’s Daimian Ocasio denied Minnechaug on a huge block and kept Chicopee at a 45-31 lead.
Chicopee seemed to be running away with this game by countering every fast break that came Chaug’s way.
Minnechaug sought a comeback.
Needing their best players, Matthew Devine and J. Ofcarcik, to come in clutch, both aforementioned athletes began to do exactly that. 3’s were being fired by Devine and layups were being snuck in by Ofcarcik.
Chicopee couldn’t find their footing, having failed multiple times on the 3 point line. The Pacers’s Kobe Parker put in a layup in an effort to rally back, but Chaug quickly responded with a few of their own.
As Chicopee tried draining the clock to end the game, Chaug capitalized multiple times on 3 pointers from Matthew Devine and jump shots from Ofcarcik. Now in a 55-46 lead, the Pacers needed to capitalize on key shots, but failed.
Minnechaug did not stop their offensive onslaught, putting in yet another 3 and a layup of their own, slashing the Pacers’ lead to 57-51 with a minute remaining.
11 seconds into the final minute, Chaug put in another 3, putting themselves within reach of a tie at 57-54.
With all the momentum in their hands, Chaug put up another 3 pointer shortly after the Pacers put in a successful foul shot attempt.
With the score now being 58-57 and 6 seconds left, Minnechaug purposely fouled Chicopee, hoping they could put up a 3 if Chicopee were to be successful on both foul shots.
The Pacers were successful, and as Minnechaug in-bounded the ball, Chicopee’s Kobe Parker blocked it and gave the Pacers their fourth win of the season with a score of 62-59.
“We have two days of practice to get to work. We just need to play better than we did today and execute better. Chicopee is a good team and I tip my hat to them,” said Minnechaug Head Coach Michael Orzech postgame.
The Pacers’ season record improves to 4-2 and they will look to keep their win streak going after their recent victory as they prepare to face off against Northampton High School this Friday January 10 in an away game.
Minnechaug’s season record stands at 4-3 after their loss to the Pacers. The Falcons will attempt to bounce back this coming Friday, as well, when they will take on Central High School in an away game.