Athol Daily News – Men’s Basketball: Mahar’s coach Chad Softic scores 200th career win

Mahar’s veteran men’s basketball coach, Chad Softic, reached a milestone few do on Tuesday.

Softic, who took over the Senators’ program in 2007, entered Tuesday’s matchup with rival Athol with 199 career wins. After making a name for himself as a defensive guru, it was only fitting that Softic’s defense would lead his team to victory, holding the Bears to just four second-half field goals to walk away with a 47-35 win. .

It was the 200th win for Softic, which was even sweeter against Athol, the high school he graduated from and has become his rival for the past 15 seasons.

“It means I’ve had great players, which I have,” Softic said, “and I’ve been here a long time. I got a lot of support from my mom and dad, the Mahar administration, Helene Holmes, Pat Kaltner and my assistant Zach Rand and I have been together from the beginning. I owe them a lot.”

Softic has had great success with the Sens, reaching his pinnacle in 2012 when he helped guide Mahar to a Western Mass. Division 2 championship, beating South Hadley 47-31. In the state tournament, the Senators defeated St. Bernard’s, 58-36, before earning a 45-41 victory over Brighton to take home the state title, the first and only in school history.

While Tuesday’s win was a milestone for Softic, it was also a big game for the Senators’ hopes of making it to the MIAA Div. 4 state tournament field this season.

Mahar entered the game sitting 38th in the latest MIAA Power Rankings, and with only the top 32 teams earning a guaranteed berth in the tournament, the Senators aim to finish the season with a record of .500 or better to ensure that’ I’ll end up in the field.

Sitting at 6-5 overall going into Tuesday, earning an independent victory over Athol to end a divided season against his rivals was crucial. Mahar is now 7-5, with the South Hampshire League contests remaining against Lenox, Greenfield (twice), Drury and Pioneer. He also remains an independent game against Quaboag.

The Sens should feel good about where they are down the stretch. Mahar has been playing his best ball of late, beating Drury, Frontier and Chicopee before nearly handing Hopkins his first loss of the season last Friday, falling 50-44.

Softic said he likes where his team is headed in the final stretch of the season, but knows they will need to play their best down the stretch in an HL South where it seems anyone can beat anyone on any given night.

As for how much longer Softic plans on training? He doesn’t think he’ll be done anytime soon as he looks to get the Senators back for another state championship game.

“It’s been fun,” Softic said. “Hopefully he’s around for another 200 wins. I have a few years left. We will keep pushing.”

While it was a disappointing defeat for Athol, the Bears have positioned themselves to make a North Hampshire League title run this season.

Athol is at 10-4 overall on the season, having won four in a row before the loss to Mahar. The Bears are 7-1 in the league, trailing leader Mt. Greylock (8-0) by one game.

Greylock won the first meeting, 66-51, although the game was level with two minutes to go before the Mounties bowed out. Athol heads to Williamstown to take on Greylock next Tuesday in a contest that will likely determine whether the Mounties win their second straight league title or whether Athol can win a share of the trophy.

While the Senators’ zone gave the Bears some trouble Tuesday, against teams that have played man-to-man, Athol has been able to use his athleticism to move from one side of the court to the other and cause problems for opponents. . Athol head coach Brian Patria hopes he can do that Tuesday against Greylock.

“We know where we are,” Patria said. “I am excited for this team. We are a dynamic team. Matches like this where the other team plays almost the entire zone, we have to adapt to that. We did well moving the ball and working on our zone offense.”

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