High schools: Zola Higham, Amherst girls take down Hampshire; South Hadley girls capture Suburban League title

Amherst’s Zola Higham (11) breaks up the court against Northampton in the second quarter of the Pioneer Valley Tip-Off earlier this season at the Mullins Center in Amherst.

Amherst’s Zola Higham (11) breaks up the court against Northampton in the second quarter of the Pioneer Valley Tip-Off earlier this season at the Mullins Center in Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By BRADYN COTE

Staff Intern

Published: 02-12-2024 11:20 PM

AMHERST — The Amherst girls basketball team’s fourth quarter scoring proved to be too much for Hampshire Regional on Monday as the Hurricanes defended its home court on its senior night, 42-34.

Both teams were looking to bounce back from losses, but the Hurricanes (4-13) prevailed behind Zola Higham’s 20-point performance.

“[Zola’s] one of our seniors and she’s always a fighter, she’s always going out there and giving it 100 percent,” said Amherst head coach Erin Klaes. “She sees the floor and finds her teammates very well, but knows when to attack.”

Higham was able to get the game going for the Hurricanes as she quickly racked up seven of her team's 11 points in the quarter.

Hampshire (7-10) didn’t allow the lead to grow as Addie Miklasiewicz, Katherine Simmons, and Shayne Moynahan each drove to the paint and got a bucket in the first quarter.

After the first eight minutes of play, the Hurricanes took a small 11-7 lead.

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Entering the second quarter, the Hurricanes continued to add pressure as their ball movement was able to pace and space the floor, allowing multiple opportunities for open looks both inside and outside the arc.

The Raiders were persistent and pressured the paint, ultimately testing the interior defense of the Hurricanes.

“I think [Amherst] came out with a lot of energy in order to secure senior night and they shot the ball very well,” said Hampshire Regional head coach Matt LaCoille. “The main message was to play with composure and trust one another and make sure that we can find the opportunities where they exist and try not to force them.”

Despite the hard effort, the Hurricanes remained on top 20-17 at the end of the first half.

From the start of the third quarter, the Raiders started to pick things up defensively, limiting Amherst’s fluid ball movement. Both limiting Amherst to seven total points for the quarter as well as attacking the basket, Hampshire was able to outscore the Hurricanes for the first time in the ball game.

Down 27-24, the Raiders still had a lot of work to do in order to get into the driver's seat of this contest with only eight minutes remaining in the game.

The Hurricanes did not tread lightly in the final quarter as the team went on a scoring spree. An aggressive fourth quarter allowed Amherst to open up its largest lead of the game of 11 points.

Hampshire senior Alice Jenkins' solid performance surely kept the game close as she put up 10 points and shot an outstanding 6-for-6 from the free throw line.

“[Alice] is as steady as they come,” said coach LaCoille. “She’s a great leader and is great at keeping the girls composed.”

With not enough time on the clock for the Raiders to make a comeback, the Hurricanes completed their senior night win, 42-34.

“It feels really special, all of our players worked really hard, especially our seniors who put in a lot to improve throughout the whole season,” said Higham. “I feel like we were consistent throughout every quarter and we moved the ball and played well.

Altogether, the Hurricanes’ senior crew combined for 33 of the 42 points, as Higham scored 20 points, Francesca Sloan added five, Shannon Klaes dropped in six, and Raye Hegarty was able to get a layup for two.

“It’s good to see the girls want to go out there and fight and want to take the win on senior night,” said coach Klaes. “It’s the last home game of the regular season so it was good to come to a full gym and take the win.”

South Hadley 61, Monson 35 — Another game, another win – and another balanced display of scoring from the Tigers. Their 12th win in a row secured them the Suburban League title after going 11-1 in league play.

Kate Phillips (team-high 15 points), Drew Alley (13 points) and Cara Dean (12 points) all scored in double figures for South Hadley, while CC Gurek added nine and both Caitlin Dean and Ava Asselin chipped in five points apiece.

Chicopee Comp 58, Belchertown 43 — Chloe LaRoche’s team-high 21 points wasn’t enough to get the Orioles over the hump on Monday night, as Belchertown was out-scored by 15 in the fourth quarter after entering the frame tied.

Laura Cote added 10 points for the Orioles, while Aubrey McCain chipped in six in the loss.

Boys basketball

Smith Voc 111, Gateway 33 — Myles Chinappa and the Vikings set the tone immediately, storming to a 30-3 lead after one quarter en route to the victory on Monday night in Northampton.

Chinappa dropped a Hampshire County season-high 50 points in the victory for Smith Voc. Chinappa drilled 10 3-pointers and 10 two-pointers for the monster outing. He scored 12 points in the first quarter, 14 in the second, 15 in the third and nine in the fourth, while adding four assists and five steals in the win.

Dom Sanchez (14 points), Josh Cole (10) and Alex Soto (10) made it four Vikings in double figures. Gateway’s Jesse Balboni led the visitors with 19 points.

Smith Voc’s lead grew to 66-11 at halftime.

The Vikings, which improved to 8-9 on the season, close out their regular season on Wednesday against Smith Academy.

East Longmeadow 60, Hampshire 43 — Braylon Jarrett went for a team-high 22 points in the Raiders’ loss on Monday night.

Koleton Kolodziej followed with eight points and Jack Wresien added six for Hampshire.

Ludlow 43, Smith Academy 39 — The Lions held on for a tight independent victory on Monday night in Ludlow.

Three Smith Academy players scored in double figures in the loss. Greg Stone led the way with 11 points, followed by Garrett Willard and Cam Graves with 10 points apiece.

The Falcons (8-9) will host Smith Voc in their regular season finale on Wednesday.

Hoosac Valley 72, South Hadley 58 — Hosting the No. 1 team in the MIAA Division 5 power rankings, the Tigers were unable to get past the Hurricanes on Monday night.

Jack Loughrey led the South Hadley offense with 22 points, and Owen Dawson followed with 15 points.

South Hadley (9-8) closes its regular season at Easthampton on Wednesday.

Late weekend results

Boys basketball

Malden 62, Belchertown 60 — The Orioles squandered a 12-point halftime lead and were out-scored 12-10 in overtime as they fell to Malden by two in an out-of-region matchup Saturday afternoon.

Tyler Marino scored a team-high 15 points for Belchertown while Cal Orzech (13) and Jacob Pacunas (10) combined for 23 points in the loss. 

Girls basketball

New Britain (Conn.) 67, Amherst 40 — Niyama Adadenoh tossed in a team-high 14 points for the ‘Canes in the out-of-state loss.

Zola Higham (12 points) and Shannon Klaes (10 points) joined Adadenoh in double figures on Saturday.

Williston results

Boys basketball

Williston 62, Andover 59 — Preston Edmead had himself a game to remember.

Edmead sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer as part of his 25-point outing that gave the Wildcats a huge win. Ore Odutayo (11 points), Matteo Bratt (10 points) and Ricardo Nieves (eight points) helped out in the scoring column for Williston.

Girls basketball

Williston 49, Pomfret 37 — Skyler Walker led all scorers with 22 points, while Margaret Edwards chipped in 11.

Boys hockey

Williston 6, Millbrook 2 — Declan Grenache tallied twice  while Henok Hankinson, Gab  Qureshi, Oliver Lapointe,  and   Dylan Rovetti (power play) found the back of the net as well to round out the Wildcats scoring.

Jake Henry earned the victory in net.

Girls hockey

Andover 1, Williston 0 — The Wildcats dropped a hard-fought game in the annual Pink in the Rink game.

Boys swimming and diving

Suffield 94, Williston 77 — Herrick Stevenson, Chris  Doubleday, Brooks Marshall and Owen Mish turned in solid performances for the Wildcats in the loss.

Girls swimming and diving

Suffield 98, Williston 72 — Audrey Dowsett, Mel McCullough and Mya Schattin stood out for the Wildcats.

Girls squash

Pomfret 5, Williston 2
Westover 5, Williston 2
Williston 4, Newton County Day 3 —
The Wildcats hit the road to Pomfret to compete in the NEPSAC tournament, going 1-2 over the weekend. Olivia Zaiken, Zoe Zhang, Ashley Zhang and Betsy Gaudreau each won matches for Williston.