The fact that it missed a chance to close out the South Division at home is still fresh in the minds of the Mount Greylock boys’ basketball team.
When Lee beat the Mounties on Feb. 7 it did more than snap an 11-game winning streak and put a blemish on a perfect Berkshire County record. It prevented Greylock from winning the South.
Lee followed the upset win over the Mounties with another big victory over St. Joseph’s. This time the Wildcats helped out the Mounties. St. Joseph’s loss clinched the division for Greylock.
"It’s not the way we wanted to do it," Mountie senior Hank Barrett said. "But, we’ll take it."
Greylock is still focused on taking care of business when the Crusaders role into town tonight for what could have been the South Division title game.
"We’re still going to approach it the exact same way," Barrett said. "[St. Joseph’s] will come in even more fired up now. [Winning the South] isn’t going to change it at all. This game is still about pride. It’s our senior night, and it’s our last regular season game at Greylock."
Just because the division is wrapped up doesn’t mean the Mounties don’t have anything to play for. Every win is going to help the team’s seed as it goes forward. Last year, the Mounties won 15 games and entered the tournament as a seven seed. They advanced to the semifinals before being eliminated
With the division in hand, the focus now shifts to securing the best possible seed.
"We’re trying to reach some goals and winning the South is one," coach Bob Thistle said. "We want to get the best seed that we can. Fifteen wins is great, but 16 is even better and harder to get."
The Mounties will welcome the defending Western Mass. champs into Williamstown tonight for a huge matchup. The fact the division isn’t on the line anymore doesn’t change the fact these are the county’s top two teams.
St. Joseph’s has something the Mounties don’t have: A lot of big game experience. Senior Tank Roberson continues his assault on the record books for the Crusaders as he became the program’s all-time leading scorer last week. That is why Greylock will be treating this game like a tournament game.
"No matter what [you have accomplished], you have to take a step back and realize that every game is a new opportunity and a new challenge," Thistle said.
Greylock was able to turn the loss to Lee into a learning experience. The Wildcats hit eight 3-pointers and built a 10-point lead at one point in the game. Greylock rallied but fell short of a complete comeback.
"Lee had way too many open looks. Teams can’t get that many open looks against us," Barrett said. "Giving up that many 3s a game is not going to help us. We know St. Joe can really shoot the lights out. We are concerned about that and working on it in practice."
The Mounties’ mantra all year has been to keep moving forward. That’s exactly what they did with a bounce-back win over Mount Everett, 74-54 on Tuesday night. The victory was the 15th of the season for the Mounties. Immediately, the Mounties set their sites on the Crusaders.
Greylock already has one victory on the season over the Crusaders. The Mounties topped St. Joseph’s at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club on Jan. 25, 64-61. Tyrell Thomas led the way with 21 points, but it was a complete team effort, as four players reached double digits.
"That was a huge win for us, but that’s in the past and we’re really focused on preparations," Thistle said. "[This] is the biggest game of the year for us now just because it’s the next game.
"It’s a big step for our program, but regardless of what happens, it’s on to the next one for us and we’re looking to build from it."