They hail from the home of basketball but who exactly are the Putnam Beavers? With a record of 23-1 going into the MIAA Division 1 State finals, the Beavers have coasted their way through western Massachusetts with their closet game of the tournament occurring against Milford in the state semifinals when the Beavers won by 13.
Talking to Hockomock Sports before the Beavers semifinal game against Milford, ESPN Boston's Brendan Hall said the Beavers were a very physical team that can also play quick led by a group of guards on the perimeter.
On defense, the Beavers come into the game allowing 44.75 points during the tournament while the Hornets have limited their opponents to just under 50 points a game. Meanwhile, the teams appear even on offense with the Hornets averaging 61.8 points a game to Putnam's 62 points
Stopping the Beavers
Trying to stop the guards will be Michael Boen and Kyle Wisnieski who received high praise for chasing guys off the three point line in Mansfield's last game against Central Catholic.
The Hornets will have to keep an eye on KayJuan Bynum who is Putnam's leading scorer and rebounder. Committing to play football at American International College, Bynum has been a dominate for in the low post for the Beavers.
Greg Romanko and Brendan Hill will likely be responsible for stopping Bynum. Hill has played more of a defensive roll during the tournament and showed a more aggressive edge against Catholic Central. He's going to need to bring that same intensity again if he guards Bynum.
The Hornets are going to need to grab some defensive boards if they plan on beating Putnam. Against Milford, Dizel Wright efforts rebounding on offense helped him earn 17 points for the Beavers and kept Milford from establishing a counterattack
Keys to Offense
With quick guards, the Hornets may have to rely on Ryan Boulter’s quick release if they want any outside shots. The sophomore has been one of Mansfield's best shooters during tournament, leading the team in scoring twice and appearing at times unstoppable.
In almost every game this postseason, there has been a different player who has been the star for the Hornets. With one game to go, it’s time for Hill to be that person. Fairly quiet this possession on offense, Hill is going to have to take the aggressiveness he showed against Central Catholic on defense and bring it over to offense.
The Hornets will also have to find a solution to Putnam’s 1-3-1 defense which has been giving opponents trouble and forcing turnovers all tournament long.
How the Game Will be Won
It may be a cliche but defense is going to win this game. With both teams holding opponents to the 40s in scoring, the winner of this game may be the first team to reach 50 points. If the Hornets can prevent the Beavers from getting second and third chance points and Rocky DeAndrade can pressure Putnam at mid-court, the Hornets have a good shot at taking home their first state championship in basketball.