Two contrasting styles of basketball collided on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at Waverly High School in Division III sectional action, as the number seven seeded North Adams Green Devils battled the tenth seeded Portsmouth West Senators. The Senators came in with the reputation of a team that likes to spend most of their time on the offensive end of the floor working from beyond the three-point line, while the Green Devils all season have been a team that likes to pound it inside and take advantage of their height in an inside-out game.
On Tuesday night, size and the inside game prevailed as North Adams senior big man Trey Meade had a career game, continually dominating the Senators in the paint on his way to 30 points, leading the Green Devils to a 64-53 victory, one which propelled them into the sectional championship game.
“We watched tape on them and saw them play and I never felt comfortable with that 9-10 point lead against them because of how they launch the threees,” said North Adams head coach Nathan Copas. “They start going in and three possessions later, it’s a tie game. We knew were going to play our 2-3 and rotate, but early we didn’t rebound well and gave them a couple of threes.”
“We knew they would take a lot of threes and hit a few and we told our kids that they just had to keep their composure and stay inside-out on the other end and not try to match their three-point shots.”
For the first two minutes of the contest, it looked as if the long distance assault of the Senators might take control as West forged a 6-0 lead behind a pair of three-pointers from sophomore Jordan Frasure. A Justin Knechtly basket finally got the Devils on the board and they chipped away at the deficit with a pair of inside buckets from Meade, setting the tone for their offensive strategy the remainder of the night. A pair of Ryan Shupert free throws late in the period left the Devils behind just 10-8 after the initial eight minutes.
North Adams missed a golden opportunity to grab the reins on this game early in the second quarter as the Senators were in the midst of a nearly eight-minute scoring drought. In that time, though, the Devils did take their first lead on a pair of Brandon Gingerich free throws and then went up four on a Gingerich score in the paint, but could not extend the lead further, until after the Senators got their first baskets of the second stanza.
With the game tied at 14, the Devils reeled off eight in a row, six of those by the Meade brothers (Trey and Cole) combined to grab a 22-14 advantage. Another Portsmouth trey cut the margin but a jumper by Ryan Shupert and a Meade free throw left North Adams on the positive side of the scoreboard going into the half, leading 25-19.
The third quarter of this sectional semi could have easily been called the “quarter of Meade,” Trey Meade that is, as the North Adams center totally took over the action on the Devil’s offensive end, as the Senators had no answer. With North Adams up 28-21, boom, boom, boom, three consecutive baskets by Meade suddenly propelled the Devils to a double digit advantage at 34-21. Brother Cole got in the action with a bucket inside that kept the lead at 13 and after a three by West’s Cody Finley, Trey Meade scored again and Cole hit two free throws to make it 42-30, but the period ended on a downer for North Adams as the Senators got two baskets from Tre Patrick, including an acrobatic scoop shot at the buzzer and West was back to within single digits.
The Devils’ lead continued to shrink when West got three-pointers on their first two possessions of the fourth quarter, but a basket “and one” by Trey Meade kept North Adams on top 48-40. With about three minutes to go, Portsmouth coach Scott Davis decided to go with the fouling strategy, one that would backfire on him as the Devils 11 free throws down the stretch to thwart every comeback attempt from the Senators.
Despite the Senators getting a couple more three-pointers late, the prowess at the charity stripe kept the Green Devils in front, with West getting no closer than eight the rest of the way. Two more free tosses by Knechtly with 37 seconds left turned out to be the game’s final points as North Adams claimed the 64-53 win and a trip to the Division III sectional championship game.
As mentioned before, it was a huge night for North Adams senior Trey Meade, who racked up a career-high 30 points, a total that included an 8 for 9 performance from the free throw line.
“If you knock down shots, you’re going to score points,” Meade said after the game. “Our game plan was to pound them inside and we did that.”
“We need some other guys to knock down some shots but tonight Trey kind of put us on his shoulders and pulled us through,” said Coach Copas.
After Meade, the rest of the North Adams scoring was very balanced as they got 7 points each from Isaiah Anderson and Justin Knechtly, and 6 apiece from Brandon Gingerich and Cole Meade. The Devils were 30 for 40 from the foul line in the win and did not hit a single three-point basket.
Portsmouth West was led by 15 points from Drew Howard, 14 from Tre Patrick, and 10 from Jordan Frasure.
The win sends the Green Devils into the sectional finals on Saturday, Feb. 20 at 6 p.m., back at Waverly High School, where they will face the Southern Hills Athletic Conference big school champion Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs for the second time this season. The Mustangs have only lost two games this year and one of them was a 56-52 loss to North Adams back on Jan. 15.
PWHS 10 9 15 19 —53
NAHS 8 17 17 22 —64
PWHS (53): Patrick 5 2-2 14, Howard 5 2-2 15, Maynard 2 1-2 5, Finley 2 0-0 5, Frasure 4 0-0 10, Opperman 2 0-2 4, Team 20 5-8 53.
NAHS (64): Anderson 1 5-6 7, England 0 4-8 4, Shupert 1 2-2 4, Knechtly 1 5-6 7, Gingerich 1 4-6 6, T.Meade 11 8-9 30, C.Meade 2 2-3 6, Team 17 30-40 64.
PWHS- Patrick 2, Howard 3, Finley 1, Frasure 2