CHESHIRE >> With his 300th career win now under his belt, Hoosac Valley coach Ron Wojcik knows a thing or two about tricky quarterfinal contests in the Western Mass. tournaments.
Thursday was no different, as the No. 7 Granby Rams pestered No. 2 Hoosac Valley throughout the entirety of the contest.
But like Hoosac has done in the last two Western Mass. tournaments, the Hurricanes found a way around the Rams in a 59-51 win at home that sends Hoosac back to the Curry Hicks Cage for the fourth year running. Hoosac beat Granby in last year's championship game.
"Sometimes the quarterfinal ones are tough," Wojcik said. "They were tough back when I was [coaching] the Pittsfield boys. You got that extra pressure on you. I thought we played a little like that tonight — with a little bit of pressure on our shoulders — but like I said, the kids made the big plays down the stretch when they had to."
The Hurricanes sure needed those plays on Thursday.
Granby, led by Kate Sarnacki (game-high 28 points), never backed down against the Hurricanes, and with 1:42 to go Sarnacki hit two free throws to make it a 51-48 game.
But the Hurricanes, who are very familiar with the atmospheres surrounding tournament games, turned the dial up one more time to pull off the win.
Alie Mendel came back down the court after the freebies and picked out Kailynne Frederick (6 points) under the basket for an easy bucket, then Field added a free throw and Mendel (17 points) added two more to put Hoosac up 56-48.
Sarnacki responded with a three to cut the deficit to five, but Hoosac got a free throw from Mendel to push the lead back to six, and after Kate Sullivan (7 points) rimmed out a 3-pointer, Fallon Field (team-high 23 points) added the final two points of the game from the line to seal the win.
"At this time of the season, everyone is fighting for their season," Field said. "Every team, especially since we are the champions from last year, everyone is out to get us. We have to bring our 'A' game every time."
Hoosac built an early lead in the game and went up 15-6 midway through the first off a bucket from Mendel, but the Rams got the deficit down to three, 18-15, at the end of the first on a free throw from Sullivan.
In the second stanza, Sarnacki kept plugging away from Granby, and a three trimmed the score to 22-20 Hoosac. Unfortunately for the Rams, Sarnacki was battling on the defensive end, and a bit too hard. Moments after cutting the deficit to two, Sarnacki picked up her third foul of the half and had to go to the bench. Hoosac responded by blowing the lead up to 10 at halftime, 36-26.
"[Sarnacki] definitely gave us a lot of trouble," Field said. "Every time out she was the one we were talking about. She is a very good off the ball player. And if she didn't get in foul trouble, she would have given us more trouble. We were lucky with that."
Granby coach Tom Burke said after the game that, despite everything that stacked up against his team, he was proud of how his Rams remained resilient.
"I can't be upset with how the kids played, especially the way they got down early," Burke said. "You get down early here, in this environment, it's pretty tough to come back — but they did. They fought hard all the way through and we almost got there."
Field finished with a double-double, adding 15 rebounds to her haul. She also had five steals. Frederick finished with nine boards, and Ryan had eight steals and three assists. For Granby, Sarnacki finished with eight boards and three assists, and Sullivan added 11 rebounds.
Hoosac now advances to play No. 3 Hampshire in the D-III semifinals. A date and time for the game was not available at press time.
Field, though, doesn't care when the game is. She just cares that her Hurricanes are going back to her favorite place.
"It's very exciting, that's my favorite court," Field said. "I love it."
Crouteau 0-0-0, Sarnacki 9-8-28, Burger 1-0-2, Sexton 0-0-0, Sullivan 2-2-7, Young 1-4-6, M. Beauregard 4-0-8, A. Beauregard 0-0-0, Shepard 0-0-0. Totals 17-14-51
HOOSAC VALLEY (59)
Mercier 0-0-0, F. Field 6-10-23, McMahon 0-0-0, E. Field 0-1-1, Ryan 3-0-6, Mendel 5-5-19, Case 2-0-6, Frederick 2-2-6. Totals 18-18-59.
3-point goals — G 3 (Sarnacki 2, Sullivan), HV 5 (Case 2, Mendel 2, F. Field).
Contact Geoff Smith at 413-496-6254.