The time for worrying about why it's a three seed instead of one or two is over.
The Mount Greylock boys' basketball team (17-3) begins its run to a Western Massachusetts Division III championship tonight at 6 when it hosts No. 14 Smith Vocational (10-8).
The fact that Greylock is now forced to play a first round game instead of receiving a bye to the quarterfinals could be a blessing in disguise. A bye would have meant at least a week off since the Mounties last played. Now, they get to play on the first day, a layover of only five days.
"I think it will be good for the kids to get going," coach Bob Thistle said. "I know they're excited and prepared.
"We're ready to go."
The Mounties ran through the regular season, losing just once in the county. That was a 59-56 loss to Lee. The other blemishes came in a holiday tournament out east.
They proved they deserved the South Division title by beating defending Western Mass. champ St. Joseph's twice.
Smith Voc. finished third in the Tri-County. McCann Tech was its only Berkshire County opponent. Smith won both games by a combined seven points.
Thistle said he's scouted the Vikings and they are a scrappy team. He pointed out two scorers, Jordan Castillo and Sam Sharpe, that Greylock will focus on.
As for the Mounties' scorers, pick one of the five starters. Hank Barrett, Tyrell Thomas, Nathan Majumder, Tyler Picard or Brett McCormack can lead the way offensively on any given night. Often times, it's been two or three guys that have good nights to fuel the win. Seldom is it a great performance; although, Picard has scored 64 points in his last three games. He's now 34 shy of 1,000 for his career.
"He's just letting the game come to him. He knows he's close to his 1,000th point. It's been all or nothin for him," Tyrell Thomas said. "If he's scoing, I'm going to help him get to that 1,000th point. That's what teammates do."
Greylock enters the tournament drastically different than it did last year in two respects. The first is it won't catch anyone by surprise. The Mounties were a Cinderella story all last year en route to a Western Mass. semifinal berth. Not so this year. They returned all but one player -- Tom Dils -- and were expected to be among the best. They didn't disappoint, and now they have a target on their back.
"That was one of the neat things about last year. We went down to New Leadership as seven seed to play and we had one of our best game's of the year," Hank Barrett said. "Now people are comng to your place. They know by record you can play.
"All season we've got a lot of teams' best games. ... "We know we're not going to fly under the radar, and that's how it should be with the regular season we wanted to have."
The second is they have some playoff experience to draw on. While the 2011-12 team had postseason experience in other sports, it had none on the hardwood. All five starters now know what it takes to make a deep run. They also know how much it hurts to be a 3-pointer away from the title game.
"I think last year coming in after a 4-16 season, we no idea what to expect. Everything was a bonus," Barrett said. "We figured out we can play with some of the top teams.
"We know we want to do something similar to that, and in order to do that, you're ging to have to beat some pretty good teams along the way."
The essentials ...
Who: No. 3 Mount Greylock boys vs. No. 14 Smith Vocational
What: Western Mass. D-III First Round
Where: Mount Greylock Regional H.S.
When: Tonight, 6
Coverage: Live-blog at post-game video interviews at blogs.thetranscript.com/sports and on Twitter @NAT_DigitalSam and @NAT_DigitalJosh