Photo Gallery | Hoosac Valley boys fall to Oxford in D-III state semifinals
WORCESTER — The Hoosac Valley boys basketball team has been in this exact position before.
Trailing by one point with one second left in the game, the Hurricanes needed a basket to advance to the Division III state finals. Last year, the 'Canes pulled out the last second win, but on Tuesday, Jameson Coughlan's inbound pass was knocked away, sending Oxford to a 45-44 win.
Oxford's Shaun McCarthy put the Pirates up one with 15 seconds left. Hoosac did not call a timeout after the basket. Matt Koperniak took a hard drive to the hoop, but he lost the ball out of bounds with three seconds left.
Hoosac coach Bill Robinson said he didn't call a timeout because he didn't want to give Oxford's defense a chance to reset. The right player had the ball late, unfortunately the ball did not bounce in Hoosac's favor.
"This is who we are. We're ready for this," Hoosac coach Bill Robinson said of his mindset during the late-game situation. "We have experience. We've been here before. We got the drive, and we've got the guy with the ball. He went to the basket and he just lost the ball."
Koperniak stole the ensuing inbounds pass, giving the 'Canes their last-second chance at the win. The miracle ending was just not in the cards.
"They had great pressure on the ball and it made it tough for Jameson to get a pass in," Koperniak said. "They're a really long, lengthy team. It was hard to pass the whole game. At the end we tried to get a lob in, but it didn't work out."
Hoosac held a three-point lead after two quarters, but Oxford turned to its go-to player to get back into the game. McCarthy scored his team's first seven points in the third. His 3-pointer tied the game at 27 with four minutes and 21 seconds left in the quarter.
McCarthy sat after picking up his fourth foul with 2:56 left, but the Hurricanes' lack of offense could not allow them to capitalize on his absence. Coughlan's layup with 20 seconds left put the 'Canes up one. Jarod Schutrick answered with a 3-pointer at the buzzer, swinging the momentum back to the Pirates.
McCarthy led Oxford with 18 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. Schutrick added 16 points. Their contributions were too much for Hoosac to overcome.
"We only had two kids that scored [double figures] and two kids that scored a basket each," Robinson said. "We're not going to win games when your parts don't score."
Schutrick and McCarthy closed out the 'Canes, scoring all 12 of their team's fourth-quarter points. Keegan McGrath hit what looked like a potential winning 3-pointer with 1:40 left for Hoosac, but McCarthy answered by scoring the final four points of the game.
"They were exactly who we thought they were," Coughlan said. "We were well prepared, we just didn't execute.
"[McCarthy] is a great player. I've got to contain him better. I didn't do a very good job and that really hurt us."
The one-on-one matchup between McCarthy and Coughlan was impressive to watch.
Coughlan carried the offense in the first half, scoring 15 of his 23 points. He also did a good job of guarding McCarthy early, limiting him to four first-half points.
As McCarthy found his rhythm, his teammates fed off his presence.
"We're two similar players," he said. "We're both big and strong inside. It was fun matching up. I don't think either one of us had saw someone like each other for pretty much the whole season. It was a good matchup for us."
The game started out slowly, with several missed shots on both sides. Koperniak started the game with a layup. The lead changed hands twice, before Coughlan put the 'Canes up 9-7 after one.
The senior duo combined for all 12 of the points in the second, giving Hoosac a three-point lead at halftime.
The loss is part of an historic run for the Hoosac senior class. In basketball, they have three Western Mass. final appearances with two victories. In football, they also have three Western Mass. finals appearances with two victories. Robinson said they represent one of the most storied classes in Hoosac history, and they should end their careers with a strong sense of pride.
"These guys are a really special group," Koperniak said. "I've known them for a while now, in youth leagues and growing up with them — a lot of special kids.
"Over the years we've had a great run. ... It's been a pleasure to play with all these guys. It's been a pleasure to play for my community and represent Hoosac Valley."
Hall 0-0-0, McGrath 1-0-3, Carlow 0-0-0, Koperniak 6-2-16, Rousseau 0-0-0, Lancia 0-0-0, Sistrunk 1-0-2, Barrow 0-0-0. Coughlan 10-3-23. Totals: 18-5-44.
Fusco 1-0-3, Buckley 4-0-8, Schutrick 6-2-16, McCarthy 8-1-18. Totals: 19-3-45
3-point goals — HV 3 (Koperniak 2, McGrath). O 4 (Schutrick 2, McCarthy, Fusco).
Contact Akeem Glaspie at (413) 596-6252