The Hoosac Valley girls basketball clinched its second straight Western Mass. championship Saturday, but it’s not time to celebrate just yet.
Hoosac coach Ron Wojcik and his staff have already begun preparing for Wednesday’s Division III state semifinal against Bellingham. The game is scheduled for Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.
Wojcik said his staff has some familiarity with the Blackhawks, but they’re still reviewing notes and tape in advance of the game. Overall, he said Central Mass. teams tend to play a slower, half-court style.
"It’s changed because last year in Division II there were more up-tempo teams," he said. "This year we really haven’t seen a lot of full-court pressure. We see more half court with bigger girls trying to pound it inside."
The Hurricanes are studying Bellingham, and Bellingham is presumably studying Hoosac as well. Similar to facing a flame-throwing pitcher in baseball, film can only do so much. You’ll have to face it live to really appreciate the speed.
The same can be said of Hoosac’s pressure. Film can only do so much, team’s have to face it to really get a sense of the pressure they apply. The unfamiliarity that the state tournament creates can help teams like Hoosac because they like to find multiple ways to attack you.
"It’s an advantage for us," Wojcik said. "I always assume that the other team has come to see us. ... We run multiple presses; five or six different presses based on what a team is doing. If a team hasn’t seen us, it could be difficult to prepare."
At this point in the season, team’s identities are pretty well defined. One strength of Hoosac’s that won’t show up in the box score however, is effort.
"Go all out" is the motto the Hurricanes chant after every huddle, and Wojcik knows his team must keep up the intensity up against Bellingham.
"With any pressure defense it’s only as good as the amount of effort and energy you put on the floor," he said. "If you don’t extend yourself, than the pressure won’t have it’s effect. The kids know they have to go all out. That’s what they try to do, to put us in the best possible position."
Due to possible inclement weather, Wednesday’s semifinal could be moved to Tuesday at 2:15 at the MassMutual Center. The final decision will be made this morning.
To reach Akeem Glaspie:
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