After a lackluster first quarter, the Masset Raiders were able to top the Hazelton Spartans 85-59 in the Senior Men’s All Native Qualifying Tournament final, sending them to the main event in February.
Chris Campbell from Masset started off the game hitting open jump shots, and building the Raiders a lead.
Hazelton played hard defence in the beginning of the game, as tempers nearly boiled over. This was a rematch of a heated earlier contest between the two teams. The first quarter ended in a close 22-21 edge for Masset.
Jesse Olson from Hazelton moved the ball well, with good passes into the post. However Chris Campbell’s energetic play promoted ball movement and added hard defence at the other end of the floor.
Campbell took the ball hard to the hoop and was fouled for an attempt. He hit the free throw. Masset took the lead, 30-25 in the second quarter. Darren Fargey played well inside, scoring a couple six-foot buckets for the Spartans. Gary Brown of Masset came back with a jumper, making the score 32-27.
Perimeter play from the Raiders gave easy rebounds to Hazelton. Against the run of play though, Brown was able to steal the ball and take it hard to the hoop, drawing the foul and hitting both free throws. The score was 34-30 at this point.
Masset started to pull away with better ball movement and off the ball screens. Hazelton’s lack of care for the ball and sloppy play helped Masset build a 14-point lead, 44-30.
Masset’s defensive intensity was not matched by the Spartans, but Fargey was the lone bright spot for them, grabbing offensive rebounds and scoring inside.
Poor shot selection by Travis Smith of Hazelton contributed to Masset’s lead. The half ended 52-34 for the Raiders.
“I thought we came out a little slow in the first quarter. We weren’t focused on doubling coming off screens. The second, third and fourth quarter performance was fantastic. Our defensive intensity rose, and that led to some success in the offensive end. This success showed our hard work paying off. Chris Campbell and Cooper Wilson who run the point, really set a good tempo defensively and those are the guys that are ripping the ball out of guys’ hands, it was great,” said Masset head coach Cal Westbrook.
The second half started out the same way the first ended, with tenacious defence by Masset, and discombobulated play by Hazelton.
Quality entry passes to Gwaliga Hart, opened up the floor for Masset and created easy shot opportunities, building a 22-point lead halfway through the third quarter. Hart was not guard-able due to his length and used that to his advantage, nailing turnaround jumpers on consecutive possessions to extend their lead to 70-38 with 3:40 to go in the third.
With the game now essentially out of reach for Hazelton, most of the reserves for both teams came into the game. Smith continued to settle for deep threes and off-balance shots, and that contributed to the unsettled offence. Hart’s inside/outside game was not reconcilable for Hazelton.