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Amherst hoop makes tourney with win at Northampton

  • Tom Cook of Amherst, center, absorbs a foul while splitting Northampton defenders Joe Wainer, left, and Stevie Roach Tuesday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Tom Cook of Amherst, center, absorbs a foul while splitting Northampton defenders Joe Wainer, left, and Stevie Roach Tuesday in Northampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Ben Christopher of Northampton, left, moves the ball against Tyler Peake of Amherst Tuesday in Northampton.JERREY ROBERTS

    Ben Christopher of Northampton, left, moves the ball against Tyler Peake of Amherst Tuesday in Northampton.JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mack Hale of Northampton, right, drives to the basket against Tom Cook of Amherst Tuesday in Northampton.JERREY ROBERTS

    Mack Hale of Northampton, right, drives to the basket against Tom Cook of Amherst Tuesday in Northampton.JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Justin Burgos of Northampton, center, moves the ball between Amherst defenders Tyler Peake, left, and Fahmi Farah Tuesday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Justin Burgos of Northampton, center, moves the ball between Amherst defenders Tyler Peake, left, and Fahmi Farah Tuesday in Northampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Justin Burgos of Northampton, center, drives to the basket against Amherst Tuesday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Justin Burgos of Northampton, center, drives to the basket against Amherst Tuesday in Northampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Northampton fans cheer for their team during their game against Amherst Tuesday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Northampton fans cheer for their team during their game against Amherst Tuesday in Northampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Noris Cuevas-Nova of Amherst scores on a breakaway against Northampton Tuesday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Noris Cuevas-Nova of Amherst scores on a breakaway against Northampton Tuesday in Northampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Justin Carey of Amherst shoots as a group of Amherst fans look on during a game against Northampton Tuesday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Justin Carey of Amherst shoots as a group of Amherst fans look on during a game against Northampton Tuesday in Northampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Reed Bixby of Amherst passes beside Justin Burgos of Northampton Tuesday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Reed Bixby of Amherst passes beside Justin Burgos of Northampton Tuesday in Northampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Justin Carey of Amherst, right, looks for a shot beside Jake Ross of Northampton Tuesday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Justin Carey of Amherst, right, looks for a shot beside Jake Ross of Northampton Tuesday in Northampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Fahmi Farah of Amherst, left, moves the ball against Ben Christopher of Northampton Tuesday in Northampton.JERREY ROBERTS

    Fahmi Farah of Amherst, left, moves the ball against Ben Christopher of Northampton Tuesday in Northampton.JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Tom Cook of Amherst, left, gets fouled while trying to shoot against Northampton defenders Stevie Roach, front, and Tyler Hannigan-Page Tuesday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Tom Cook of Amherst, left, gets fouled while trying to shoot against Northampton defenders Stevie Roach, front, and Tyler Hannigan-Page Tuesday in Northampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Tom Cook of Amherst, center, absorbs a foul while splitting Northampton defenders Joe Wainer, left, and Stevie Roach Tuesday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Ben Christopher of Northampton, left, moves the ball against Tyler Peake of Amherst Tuesday in Northampton.JERREY ROBERTS
  • Mack Hale of Northampton, right, drives to the basket against Tom Cook of Amherst Tuesday in Northampton.JERREY ROBERTS
  • Justin Burgos of Northampton, center, moves the ball between Amherst defenders Tyler Peake, left, and Fahmi Farah Tuesday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Justin Burgos of Northampton, center, drives to the basket against Amherst Tuesday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Northampton fans cheer for their team during their game against Amherst Tuesday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Noris Cuevas-Nova of Amherst scores on a breakaway against Northampton Tuesday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Justin Carey of Amherst shoots as a group of Amherst fans look on during a game against Northampton Tuesday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Reed Bixby of Amherst passes beside Justin Burgos of Northampton Tuesday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Justin Carey of Amherst, right, looks for a shot beside Jake Ross of Northampton Tuesday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Fahmi Farah of Amherst, left, moves the ball against Ben Christopher of Northampton Tuesday in Northampton.JERREY ROBERTS
  • Tom Cook of Amherst, left, gets fouled while trying to shoot against Northampton defenders Stevie Roach, front, and Tyler Hannigan-Page Tuesday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

The Hurricanes’ offense had stalled against Northampton’s 2-3 zone and the team needed to regroup.

Coming out of the break, Good Farah banked in a 3-pointer. Justin Burgos answered on the other end for the Blue Devils, but Justin Carey followed with another 3 for Amherst.

With the zone softened, the Hurricanes worked the ball inside, got to the free-throw line and walked off with the court with a 60-54 win that clinched a tournament berth.

“That’s a good feeling knowing that we are in (the postseason) now,” Farah said. “Now we can just work on our seeding and getting as many wins as we can. We have (Taconic Tuesday) and (Longmeadow) Friday so that will be a good opportunity to come out 12-3.”

Amherst trailed 39-35 late in the third period when it went on a 14-2 run, capped by Farah and Carey’s 3-pointers. That took about five minutes while the Hurricanes worked to solve the zone.

“We talked about getting it inside and getting it to the top of the key, backdoor cuts, baseline cuts, just keep moving,” Farah said. “We weren’t moving and weren’t doing anything.”

The Blue Devils (8-4, 2-2 Suburban) pulled within five twice (49-44, 51-46) late but could not recover. Amherst (10-3, 2-1 Suburban) went seven-for-eight from the line over the final 2 minutes, 7 seconds to seal the win.

“With 26 seconds left, in a timeout I said we were 26 seconds away from the tournament we just have to close it out,” Matuszko said. “We did a great job at the free-throw line tonight which has been a nemesis all year.”

The game was close with 12 lead changes and two ties. Ben Christopher (12 points) scored six points early as Northampton took a 12-9 lead. But the Hurricanes took the lead with an 11-0 run that closed the first and opened the second.

Noris Cuevas-Nova (12 points), who was slowed by Jake Ross of the Blue Devils in the first, scored eight points during the run as Amherst led 20-12.

But Burgos (20 points) scored five points in the second to spark Northampton, which trailed 29-25 at the break. The Blue Devils carried the momentum into the third and led 33-29 after a 3 by Burgos.

A three-point play by Carey (13 points) and a 3-pointer by Farah gave Amherst a 35-33 lead, but Burgos answered.

The senior guard drove for a basket, scored on a fast break and then fed Ross underneath for a 39-35 lead.

“Justin has been key for our offense for quite some time now,” Northampton coach Rey Harp said. “The nice thing is we have some guys who can step in and hit shots. We got a little bottled up on the offensive end trying to execute some new stuff that wasn’t working for us.”

After Amherst called timeout, Malik Ford found Carey cutting for a layup and Tom Cook (11 points) scored the next four points to jump-start the 14-2 run and give the Hurricanes the lead for good.

“It was a bleed. There was a little bit of a bleed out there,” Harp said. “We know they are going to be out there competing.”

Mike Moran can be reached at mmoran@gazettenet.com. Follow on Twitter @mikemoranDHG.

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