Milestone victories often invoke memories of great performances past, generally performances that helped make the milestone possible in the first place.
For Wahconah Regional (Dalton) boys basketball coach Ed Ladley, who won his 500th game last week, he didn't have far to look in relishing one of the highlights of his 40-year career. His team's 58-56 road victory against previously unbeaten Lenox Memorial, the game that allowed Ladley to reach the 500-win plateau, was punctuated by a gem of a performance by Johnny Lavinio.
With the Warriors in danger of blowing an 11-point, fourth-quarter lead, Lavinio hit seven of eight foul shots down the stretch and finished with a game-high 28 points, dropping Lenox to 9-1 for the season in the landmark event.
Wahconah, which improved to 5-5, also got 10 points and several key foul conversions in the final period from Greg Horth.
"After the game, we were reminiscing about some of the great players who have helped me (win 500 games)," Ladley told the Berkshire Eagle. "Johnny is another one we'll remember."
Among others whom Ladley cited as influential in the achievement were assistant coaches Dustin Belcher, Nick Persson and Jared Chivers. The latter two also served as players on some of the veteran coach's greatest teams ever.
"The fact that (Persson and Chivers) came back here is really gratifying," Ladley said. "It tells me we have been doing something right.
"It was our objective to get this win to try to get back on track," Ladley added. "(Lenox) made a run at us, but the kids stuck together."
Said Lenox coach Brian Cogswell: "(Wahconha's) zone defense was fantastic. Hats off to Coach Ladley."
Later in the week, Lenox (10-1) bounced back from the loss to Wahconha with a 71-57 win against Lee as Kevin Carpenter scored 32 points and Chris Bravo recorded 18 points and 16 rebounds.
"Sometimes a loss is not a bad thing," Cogswell said. "I think we needed a big wake-up."
AMHERST REGIONAL GIRLS RELOAD
New look, same winning results for Amherst-Pelham Regional.
Brianna Leonard scored 17 of her 25 points in the first half as the Hurricanes built an 11-point lead on the road and held on for a 63-60 victory over previously unbeaten West Springfield in a battle of premier Division 1 teams from the Springfield area.
Amherst (8-1) went undefeated a year ago during the regular season and reached the regional playoff final before having to rebuild prior to the current season. Its only loss of 2010-11 has come against undefeated Lee.
"West Springfield is a great team, with one of the best players in Western Mass., so I am very proud of these kids to work this hard on the road,'' Amherst coach Christal Murphy told the Springfield Republican. "We have not been in a lot of tight, tough games."
Dana Theobald, West Springfield's junior point guard who averages 25 points per game, scored a game-high 26.
"You can't hold (Theobald) in check, but we wanted to make her work for everything she got,'' Murphy said.
Leonard nailed two foul shots with 29 seconds remaining for a 61-60 Amherst lead, and Victoria Stewart hit two more from the line with 14 seconds to go, giving the Hurricanes a three-point lead.
Amherst has won 28 of its last 29 regular-season games. It bowed out of last year's regional final in a 45-39 loss to eventual MIAA state finalist East Longmeadow.
LEE ROLLS ON WITHOUT ALEX YOUNG
Despite having to play without injured star Alex Young
, the Lee
girls basketball team rallied from an early 12-point deficit and extended its winning streak to 29 games with its second victory in 10 days against rival Pittsfield, 55-48. The Wildcats are rated No. 13 in the state in the MaxPreps Freeman Rankings.
Lee (9-0) got 17 points from Steph Young
, while Tara Dooley
scored 13 and Megan Gaul
Lee, the defending MIAA Division 3 champs, expects to have Alex Young back before the season is over. Watch out.Continue reading