The second and final semi-final night of the 2015 McDonald’s Classic at North Adams High School concluded on Wednesday, Dec. 23 with a match up between the host Green Devils and the Manchester Greyhounds. The Hounds were looking to right the ship on a disappointing season thus far, while North Adams was looking to move two games over .500.
The Hounds started fast in looking for just their third win of the season, but a late rally by the Green Devils spoiled that plan as North Adams erased an 11-point second half deficit to post a 52-47 victory and move to the finals of the 2015 McDonald’s Holiday classic.
“I was very happy to get a win tonight and give our boys an opportunity to play for a Classic championship,” said North Adams head coach Nathan Copas.
North Adams struck first in the opening quarter with a three-point goal by Justin Knechtly, but the rest of the initial eight minutes belonged to the Greyhounds. Two baskets by Bryan Young and another by Sean Frost were part of a 9-0 run that gave the Hounds a six-point lead. After a basket by Cole Meade, on his way to a game high 23 points, broke the drought for the Devils, Colton Thornburg answered for Manchester to give his team an 11-5 advantage.
Another Frost basket late gave the Hounds a 13-7 lead and a three-pointer by Thornburg left Manchester on top 16-9 after one period of action.
After a number of misses by both sides marked the beginning of the second quarter, a three-point play by Trey Meade cut the Greyhound lead to four. The two teams then traded baskets, Cole Pribble for Manchester and Isaiah Anderson for the Devils, before a bucket by Justin Aldridge stretched the Greyhound lead back to seven at 23-16 and a late three from Thornburg send the Hounds to the intermission with a 26-18 advantage.
Early in the third period, the Hounds stretched their lead to double digits when a Frost free throw made it 29-18, but the Devils answered with a basket and then two free throws by Trey Meade. That was the start of a huge 13-0 run for North Adams that quickly turned a double digit deficit into a lead when an Anderson free throw and a Trey Meade basket put the Devils up 32-29.
The Hounds regrouped long enough for baskets by Frost and Thornburg that put them back in front by one, but the Devils got the final score of the third quarter to nurse a slim 34-33 lead as the two teams went to their respective benches to prepare for the final eight minutes of what was now an exciting contest.
Quarter number four began with a basket by Knechtly and a three from Patrick England and quickly the Green Devils had their biggest lead of the night at 39-33. Back came the Hounds with Frost scoring from both outside the arc and inside the arc to pull the Hounds to within one. North Adams answered with a Trey Meade score and after two Thornburg free throws, the Devils stayed up three with a basket from Anderson.
The back and forth action continued with another bucket by Frost and then two Knechtly foul shots. A Cole Meade free toss and another from his brother Trey put the Devils up 47-42. Trey Meade went back to the line after a Frost miss on the other end and hit one of two to extend the North Adams lead to six.
A three-pointer from Thornburg sliced that lead in half and then it was time for the Green Devils to wrap up the deal and they did that on the work of Patrick England at the charity stripe. Down the stretch, England was perfect at the line, hitting all four of his attempts, enabling his team to hang on and post the 52-47 victory and move on to the Classic title game.
Only five players scored for the Green Devils in their win and a pair of those were in double figures, led by Trey Meade’s 23 points. Justin Knechtly scored 10 for the winners with Isaiah Anderson chipping in with 9. In the clutch, Patrick England scored 7 points, all in the fourth quarter.
“I though Isaiah Anderson had a nice second half for us,” said Coach Copas. “We got some scoring contribution from Justin Knechtly and Patrick England that we desperately needed. I felt like we played flat for the most part in the first half with the exception of Trey. We played with more intensity and more as a team in the second half.”
Manchester was led by 19 points from Sean Frost and 17 from Colton Thornburg, shooting 49% from the field as a team in the loss, their sixth consecutive defeat.
The loss dropped the Greyhounds (2-8) into the consolation game of the McDonald’s Classic on Dec. 29 where they battled the West Union Dragons for the third place hardware.
The Green Devils (5-3) move on to the title game of the Classic, where they face the Peebles Indians in a Dec. 30 contest. The two teams met in their season opener with Peebles pulling out a comeback win. Tip off for the title game at North Adams High School is set for 7:30 p.m.