Undefeated Men’s Basketball Cruises to Pioneer Valley Title
By Karan Bains '14, Sports Section Editor
The men’s basketball team continues to roll at home, as the Jeffs captured the Pioneer Valley Classic title with two impressive wins in LeFrak Gymnasium last weekend.

On Friday, the Jeffs took on Westfield State, and the first round encounter was a talent mismatch from the outset. The Owls simply couldn’t handle the Jeffs’ combination of shooting and size, and Amherst jumped to a quick 23-4 lead.

Aaron Toomey ’14 provided a spark in the first half, as he took the game into his own hands for a span of two minutes. Despite being a freshman, Toomey made the game seem easy as he nailed his six shots from the field for 14 points in this short period of time. Toomey said he continues to play the same fearless basketball he did in high school.

“Obviously there are adjustments to playing at a higher level, but it’s still just basketball and I have the same mindset I’ve always had when I’m on the court,” Toomey said. “The players are bigger, faster, and stronger, but I haven’t changed the way I’ve played.”

When the final buzzer sounded, Toomey had racked up 23 points on 10 of 12 shooting to lead the Jeffs, while co — captain Conor Meehan ’11 added 17. Jeff Holmes ’12 and Willy Workman ’13 also hit double figures for Amherst with 14 and 13 points, respectively. These offensive performances, combined with strong defense and a weak opponent led to a 110 — 57 blowout vicory.

While the competition stepped up a notch on Saturday, the Jeffs were unfazed. As Elms College came into LeFrak, the Jeffs were ready to go from the outset. Once again, Amherst jumped out to an early lead, scoring the game’s first five points and forcing Elms to call timeout less than two minutes into the game. The timeout did nothing to break Amherst’s momentum, as they cruised to a 93 — 60 win, led by Taylor Barisse ’12.

Barisse had a career game, scoring 27 points and leading the way for the Amherst shooters with a seven of nine mark from three point range. Barisse scored 20 in the first half alone, propelling the Jeffs to a 17 point halftime lead. While the Blazers stepped up their play in the second half, it was not enough to overcome the deficit, as Meehan, Workman, David Waller ’12 and Pete Kaasila ’13 all hit double figures in scoring in a balanced Amherst effort.

Meehan was named Tournament MVP for his outstanding play in both games. The starting point guard was also named MVP of the Ken Wright ’52 Memorial Invitational that took place at Amherst earlier this season. As his fellow co-captain, Kurt Bennett ’11 notes that Meehan and the rest of the team have “hit the ground running.”

The momentum continued to build on Tuesday, as the Jeffs enjoyed their sixth straight blowout victory of over 20 points, trouncing Emmanuel College by a score of 79-52. After a lackluster first half, the Jeffs pulled away in the second half, led by a career night by Kaasila. In only 27 minutes, Kaasila stuffed the stat sheet with 22 points on 11 of 13 shooting. Toomey, Workman, and Barisse also hit double figures, helping to fill in for Meehan, who struggled to score points but still found other ways to contribute

The Jeffs have two more games on the slate this week before they enjoy some rest. On Thursday, Babson College will visit LeFrak, and the Jeffs will travel to Anna Maria on Saturday afternoon. After this pair of contests, the team can look forward to a break, as their next game is not scheduled until Dec. 30.

Toomey expressed confidence that the team can finish off its early schedule well. “We’re playing well together and are just having fun out on the court. We need to keep taking every game one at a time and not think ahead any games,” Toomey said.

This focused but loose approach should serve the Jeffs well as the season goes on.

Issue 11, Submitted 2010-12-08 15:51:56