CHESHIRE -- It was probably the easiest decision Bill Robinson made coming into the postseason. It might also be the one that pays off the biggest.
The Hoosac Valley boys basketball coach knew his team hadn’t played in a while because it had earned a bye to the quarterfinals last week. So he decided to simplify the game.
"I didn’t tell them this but, obviously, the game plan always is to go inside. It’s an easier shot or you get fouls," Robinson said. "But, I’ve been here before, know this a little bit. We’ve been off for [more than a week]. We’re going to come out a little rusty. Our shots aren’t going to flow. The best shots to take are the ones close, get a little rhythm, get the ball inside."
He was right. The Hurricanes did come out a little rusty, and against a team that needed to play a first-round game, that could have been dangerous. Luckily for Hoosac, Greenfield was just as sloppy for much of the opening quarter.
Robinson was also right about the inside shots being easier. The Hurricanes made six of their nine first-quarter points within 2 feet of the rim. Jameson Coughlan took care of all three baskets.
The first was a reverse layup for the game’s first points, and it broke a streak of six straight possessions from the two teams combined that failed to produce a point. He then had a putback with 1:20 to go that also earned him a trip to the free-throw line. (He made it.) Coughlan finished off his seven-point first quarter with a baseline move to free himself for an easy layup.
"If you get the ball inside, the defense is going to collapse and you’re going to get good shots from the outside," said Coughlan, who finished with 15 points. "We have great shooters, so it’s just what we do."
It took a while for the outside shots to open up, and until they did, Hoosac kept pounding the ball inside. The Hurricanes didn’t make their first 3-pointer until the third quarter. They finished with only three. It wasn’t because the shots weren’t falling, they just weren’t taking too many. The inside game was working too well.
"That’s our game. We’ve done that all year. That’s our strength," Robinson said. "They don’t have a lot of height. If I could have got [Garrett Hudson] and [Conner Eckstrom] into some foul trouble, I thought, we could really open up the inside game more. But that’s who we are."
Hudson and Eckstrom never did find foul trouble, but it didn’t hurt Hoosac’s success in the paint, either.
Hoosac scored six of its seven second-half baskets from in tight, while at least half of those came in transition. That inside consistency continued into the third quarter. Hoosac’s first four baskets after halftime came in the paint. Trevor Alibozek (12 points) got his second basket of the game on a putback with 4:32 left. Coughlan sandwiched that with a pair of baskets, the second of which was a third-chance bucket. He had six points in the quarter.
"Jameson, Trevor, we knew could have a big day in there because they weren’t as physical as we were," Matt Braman said. "So we tried to really pound it inside on them."
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