Men's Basketball grabs third seed, hosts Fitchburg State Tuesday at 6pm
North Adams, MA- After missing out of the conference championship tournament a year ago, the MCLA Men's Basketball program will return to the postseason in 2020. The Trailblazers have earned the third seed in the 2020 MASCAC Championship Tournament. For the first time since the 2014-15 season, Westfield State is the top seed in the Tournament. Play gets underway with the quarterfinal round on Tuesday, February 25.
Quarterfinals kick off the tournament on Tuesday as #3 MCLA hosts #6 Fitchburg State at 6 pm while #4 Bridgewater State entertains #5 Salem State at 7:30 pm. The winner of MCLA/Fitchburg goes on to face #2 Worcester at 6 pm on Thursday, February 27 while winner of Bridgewater/Salem plays #1 Westfield State at 7:30 pm.
The semifinal winners will face off on Saturday, February 29 at the highest remaining seed to determine the MASCAC Tournament Champion and the automatic qualifier to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
The Trailblazers swept the season series from the Falcons winning the first matchup 78-65 at home before holding off Fitchburg 83-80 a few weeks ago. In the first matchup, four Trailblazers were in double figures as they pulled away in the second half to earn the win.
A few weeks back, MCLA overcame a seven point halftime deficit to rally past the Falcons. Mike Demartinis had his best game of the season collecting 27 points in the win. MCLA took 46 free throws in the win at Fitchburg.
The Falcons will have a different look than the previous encounters with MCLA. Returning from injury this past week was leading scorer Nicholas Tracy. The senior is a former All MASCAC selection and will be a welcomed addition for the postseason.
MCLA is paced by a balanced scoring attack. Noah Yearsley leads the team in scoring, but the Trailblazers have numerous weapons. Ki-Shawn Monroe, Chris Becker, Demartinis, Hayden Bird, and Quentin Gittens have all scored in double figures down the stretch.
The Trailblazers are the second highest scoring team in the conference averaging just shy of 80 points per contest.
Earning a share of the regular season title and first round bye, Westfield State closed out the regular season 10-2 in league play. The Owls are led by Vawn Lord who is third in the conference in points per game with 19.8, ninth in rebounds and blocks with 169 and 17, respectively while adding 32 assists and 17 steals on the year.
Grabbing the other share of the regular season title and first round bye is Worcester State who was also 10-2 at the conclusion of the conference schedule. For the Lancers, Chris Cardoso ended the regular season averaging 15.5 points, 8.4 rebounds with 41 steals, 46 assists and 12 blocks.
MCLA earned the third seed after amassing a 7-5 MASCAC record this season. Noah Yearsley was the top Trailblazer in points per game with 15.3 while also averaging 4.4 rebounds and shooting 43 percent from the field. He added 39 assists, 22 steals and 20 blocks to his stat line this year.
Taking home the fourth seed is Bridgewater State who also had a 7-5 mark during league action. During his senior season for the Bears, Rayshon Ward averaged a double-double of 17 points and 10.3 rebounds per game while also tallying 39 blocks, 30 steals and 54 assists.
Rounding out the tournament field is Salem State and Fitchburg State with the fifth and sixth seed, respectively. The Vikings had four MASCAC win in 2019-20. Hakeem Animashaun ended the regular season first in the conference in points per game (23.3), rebounds per game (12.6), blocks (67), second in field goal percentage (60.5) while collecting 23 steals and dishing out 31 assists. For the Falcons, they ended the year with three conference victories. Nicholas Tracy was the leading scorer, averaging 16.8 points per game with 6.5 rebounds a game. He also finished with 29 assists, 26 steals and 12 blocks this season.
During the 2018-19 MASCAC Men's Basketball Tournament, top seed Salem State defeated second seed Westfield State 66-57 to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament.