How the Williams College and MCLA Basketball Teams Hold Up Over the Holidays | Sports

Members of Berkshire County’s four varsity basketball teams have completed their first-semester final exams and written their papers. Now they are all home for the Christmas holidays.

The Williams College and MCLA players will return to Williamstown and North Adams shortly after the holidays to begin training for the second leg of their seasons.

The second segments become very important as all four teams begin conference play in January. With conference play comes the opportunity to earn a conference tournament title, and with that an automatic berth in NCAA Division III tournaments.

brandon roughley shoots

Brandon Roughley and the Williams College Men have a game in Utica, NY this afternoon.

Three of the four teams performed at or above expectations in November and December. One team, the MCLA Women, is still looking for a first win of the season.

Williams men

The Ephs started the year well outside the Top 25. A 9-0 start to the season, a run that included the elimination of then-ranked Wesleyan, put the Ephs in the Top 25. Coach Kevin App’s side are ranked 17th and are one of the seven undefeated teams in the Top 25.

Williams rode through the first two months of the season, managing nine teams with a combined 44-49 record. Three of them, MCLA, Worcester State and Salem State, could be in the game when the MASCAC season opens.

The Ephs return to play on December 29. They were supposed to go to the Randolph & Macon tournament, but the school in Virginia canceled the tournament.

Williams found two games to fill. Williams will spend two days in Utica, NY The Ephs will play SUNY-Poly on Dec. 29 at 5 p.m., then play Utica College on Dec. 30 at 2 p.m.

Williams will have a tough first week in 2022. The Ephs will be at the top-ranked Yeshiva on Sunday, Jan. 2, then host Hamilton and Amherst this Friday and Saturday. No relaxation in the NESCAC calendar.

Williams women

Pat Manning’s team was 5-5 at the end of the first half. Normally, this might not be considered an accomplishment. In Manning’s eyes, it was.

“It’s one of the toughest schedules we’ve ever played. The five losses we suffered, the teams we faced were a total of 37-3,” Manning said, after the Ephs had capped the first half with a victory over Little Three rivals Wesleyan. “We’re a young team. We were in every one of those games.

It’s not easier for the Ephs, who will head to Nashville and the Music City Classic. The tournament takes place on the campus of Division II Trevecca Nazarine University. The Ephs will open against 5-5 on Dec. 29, and play 8-2 Trine the next day. Trine is currently ranked seventh in the Women’s top 25. Salisbury, Williams’ original opponent on December 29, has called off matches until 2022.

Williams will be back home after the New Year, hosting Worcester Polytechnic Institute on Tuesday, January 4. It’s a rematch of a game played in 2020, where the Engineers beat the Ephs 64-58.

NESCAC play begins this Friday, as Williams travels to Hamilton and Amherst.

There are four nationally ranked NESCAC teams. A tough road, sure, but made a little easier as Williams will be playing them all at Chandler Gym. The home game of the first leg with fourth-placed Amherst is Jan. 19. Williams will face No. 12 Bowdoin on Jan. 14 in the conference’s home opener. The Ephs will end the second half with a weekend series against No. 14 Tufts and No. 22 Bates.

MCLA men

The Trailblazers saw their three-game winning streak end with a loss at Division I UMass Lowell. So, even if he counts on the record, it is more easily forgotten than a loss against another Division III team.

MCLA will travel to Manhattan after Christmas for a Dec. 29 date with the City College of New York. CCNY is 4-5. Tipping is set at 2 p.m.

The match will be played at the Nat Holman Gymnasium. Holman is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and led CCNY to the NIT and NCAA championships in 1950. He is the only coach to win both tournaments in the same year.

Derek Shell’s team returns to North Adams for the start of the MASCAC conference. MCLA will be at Westfield on January 5, then host Fitchburg on January 8.

During the holidays, only co-preseason favorite Westfield State has a winning record. The Owls are 10-2. The Trailblazers have the second-best non-conference record at 5-6, while Worcester is at 5-8 and Salem at 4-7.

In the pre-season poll, Salem and Westfield were joint favorites to win MASCAC, followed by Worcester and Fitchburg. MCLA was chosen to finish sixth out of seven teams.

MCLA’s Hayden Bird (20.2) and Dylan Morris-Gray (18.1) are the conference’s top two scorers. Morris-Gray, however, hasn’t played since the Trailblazers’ loss to Williams on Nov. 23.

MCLA women

First-year coach David Bostick might not have imagined it would be as tough a season as it has proven to be so far.

The Trailblazers are 0-10 and haven’t won a game since beating Mount Holyoke on Nov. 20, 2019.

But while it’s not fair to say the Trailblazers have turned a corner, the team is starting to improve.

Emily Burke, a senior guard from Vorheesville, NY, is coming off a 25-point performance in a 69-65 loss to Northern Vermont-Lyndon. She’s averaging 13.9 points per game, leading the Trailblazers and is sixth in MASCAC in points.

The Trailblazers don’t play until 2022, when they enter conference play. They open at Westfield on January 5 and will be at home against Fitchburgh on January 8. These will be the first doubles matches with the men.

While MCLA is yet to win, their results in the last five games before the holidays indicated this slight improvement. In the first six games, the average margin of victory was 42 points, but in the last four games, that same margin was 11. The most recent game was the four-point loss to Northern Vermont-Lyndon.

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