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John Casnocha '06
Junior John Casnocha earned all-tournament honors with team highs of 19 points and seven boards on Saturday.

Eighth-Ranked Jeffs Remain Undefeated with Pioneer Valley Classic Win Over WNEC

December 4, 2004

WESTFIELD, MA - With team highs of 19 points and seven rebounds on Saturday afternoon, junior John Casnocha (San Francisco, CA) earned all-tournament honors and led the undefeated and eighth-ranked Amherst College men’s basketball team to a 71-58 win over Western New England College (WNEC) in day two of the Fourth-Annual Pioneer Valley Classic, hosted by Westfield State College. Amherst improved to 5-0, while WNEC dropped to 2-3.

Both Amherst and Springfield College finished the tournament with perfect 2-0 records. Springfield downed Westfield State 81-67 in Saturday’s other contest.

Amherst set the tone early when senior guard Russell Lee (Lorton, VA) and Casnocha drained back-to-back three-pointers in the opening minute as part of a 10-0 Lord Jeff run. WNEC stayed close in the first half behind the play of all-tourney selection Jim Bayne (Bristol, CT), who finished with team highs of 18 points and 14 rebounds.

The Golden Bears pulled to within four points, 28-24, but trailed at halftime, 37-25. WNEC trailed by five points, 57-52, with 5:41 left in regulation, but Amherst pulled away in the final minutes. Casnocha canned his fifth three-pointer to give Amherst a 62-52 lead with 4:45 remaining.

Junior guard John Bedford (Ridgewood, NJ) joined Casnocha in double figures with 12 points, overcoming 1-for-11 shooting with a perfect 10-for-10 showing from the free throw line. Junior Keith Zalaski (Simsbury, CT) and sophomore forward Dan O’Shea (Lawrence, MA) added nine points apiece, while Lee, senior forward Andrew Schiel (Wayne, PA) and rookie point guard Andrew Olson (San Diego, CA) chipped in with seven points each.

Schiel joined Casnocha on the all-tournament team on the strength of his career-high 28 points in Friday night’s 87-82 overtime win over Westfield State.

Amherst returns to action Tuesday at 7 p.m. at non-league foe Worcester State.

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