Photo Gallery | Hoosac Valley girls fall in MIAA Division III championship
SPRINGFIELD — It just wasn't enough.
The Hoosac Valley girls basketball team kept itself in Saturday's MIAA Division III state championship game against Bishop Fenwick on its defense and timely shooting, and facing the summit of the D-III mountain again, the Hurricanes made one final push.
And it was just short.
The Crusaders took two shots from the Hurricanes in the fourth quarter, and preserved both times to pull out a 57-48 win that left Hoosac as runner-up for the third straight year.
"Today I felt like we deserved to be here even more," junior Fallon Field, who had to watch the final four minutes of the game from the sidelines, said. "We had to overcome a lot this year, and we played with those girls."
After two years of tough losses to Eastern Massachusetts teams, the Hurricanes played with more confidence against the Crusaders, but couldn't find the cutting edge to take a definitive lead.
Field's presence, or lack thereof, was critical. Field scored a game-high 17 points, but had to sit large portions of the second and fourth quarters in foul trouble. Hoosac was able to take a 24-23 lead at halftime, but could not get back over the hump in the final quarter.
With Bishop Fenwick up 43-35 to start the fourth, both teams threw what they had left on the court. Hoosac came out and scored the first five points, including a 3-pointer from Lexi Mercier, only for Bishop Fenwick to get threes from Sam Mancinelli and Sydney Brennan to make it 49-40 with six minutes to go.
Field came up with her final points on a 3-pointer with 4:27 left to cut the deficit back down to six, but then went to the bench 27 seconds later.
With the fouls hanging over her, the second half was tough for Field.
"I came out and couldn't be as aggressive as I usually am," Field said. "I think that gave them a lot of easy looks.
"When I fouled out, I sat and tried to cheer on. We were close."
Senior Madi Ryan, staring down the final minutes of her high school career, tried to keep the rally going.
After a missed free throw following Field's foul, Ryan came off a Kailynne Frederick screen and buried a three, making it 49-46.
"I knew that we just had to not ignore it, but let it go," Ryan said of Field's absence. "We had girls willing to come in and step up. ... At that point we knew we just had to play for her instead of with her."
But the Crusaders had enough of a cushion. Colleen Corcoran scored on an offensive putback to put her side back up five, Brennan hit a pair of free throws and Ellen Fantozzi scored on her own putback to put Fenwick up nine.
"I have to admit, I was a little worried there for a while," Bishop Fenwick coach Adam DeBaggis said. "But, we just have great leadership. It's really a lot of times not anything I'm saying, it's the girls."
Corcoran and Brennan, two of Fenwick's five seniors, were clutch in the second half for Fenwick. Brennan scored all 12 of her points in the third and fourth quarters, while Corcoran had eight of her 10 and added four offensive rebounds.
"They got [Corcoran] going, and I thought she took over the game," Hoosac coach Ron Wojcik said. "In the third quarter, I think they had a 20-point quarter and that was the difference in the game.
"I know we cut it to three a few times in the fourth, but way too many points for us to give up in the quarter, and a lot of it was attributed to her."
Hoosac had to battle the whole game. Down 14-3 in the first, the Hurricanes slowly worked back into the game and in the second quarter closed on 14-3 run to take a 24-23 lead into the break. The first seven came in a flurry and were capped on a Ryan 3-pointer.
In the final minute, Bishop Fenwick's Jaxson Nadeau went 1 of 2 at the line twice, but Skylar Case followed up the first with another trey and Mercier the second with one of her own with eight seconds left.
"We talk about staying the course, regardless of what happens," Wojcik said. "We take punches from other teams, but we feel if we keep coming at them defensively, we can get to a point where we can wear them down and get back in it."
Bishop Fenwick freshman Jaxson Nadeau had a strong game off the bench and scored 15 points for the Crusaders. Corcoran had a double-double, adding 15 rebounds. She also had three blocks.
Ryan capped her career with 12 points, eight rebounds, five steals and three assists. Field had four rebounds, and Frederick had six rebounds.
The loss marked the end of Ryan and Cassidy McMahon's careers for Hoosac. After four Western Mass. championships and three state runners-up finishes, the emotions were high for both after the game.
"It's definitely sad, I've played since I was little," McMahon said. "It's all I've known, and it's my last game.
"I'm happy that I had such an amazing career, but it's obviously sad to be done," Ryan added. "I don't want it to ever end."
For their coach, there weren't enough words to describe the impact the two made.
"Their mark that they left is 'This is Hoosac basketball, this is how we play.'" Wojcik said, "and teaching those freshman and bringing them along. If they don't do that, we're not here today — it's plain and simple."
The Hurricanes will returned experienced now, though, thanks in part to the seniors. Field and Frederick will be seniors on a team that will have three starters and its entire bench rotation back.
The road will be long, but the Hurricanes have shown they're willing and able to traverse it.
HOOSAC VALLEY (48)
Mercier 2-0-6, F. Field 5-6-17, Halverson 0-0-0, Garabedian 0-0-0, McMahon 0-0-0, E. Field 0-0-0, Ryan 4-1-12, Mendel 2-0-5, Case 1-2-5, Frederick 1-1-3. Totals 15-10-48.
BISHOP FENWICK (57)
DeGuglielma 1-0-2, Porcaro 2-2-6, Fantozzi 2-0-4, Nadeau 5-4-15, Mancinelli 2-0-6, Corcoran 5-0-10, Brennan 3-4-12, MacKenzie 0-0-0, Meagher 1-0-2. Totals 21-10-57.
3-point goals — HV 8 (Ryan 3, Mercier 2, F. Field, Mendel, Case), BF 5 (Mancinelli 2, Brennan 2, Nadeau).
Contact Geoff Smith at 413-496-6254.