NORTH ADAMS -- On the road, facing an electric Drury crowd -- assisted by a body-painted boys basketball team -- the Hoosac Valley girls basketball team handled a tough atmosphere with poise.
The defending South Division and Western Mass. champion Hurricanes defeated Drury 57-20 Thursday, notching their ninth win of the season. The Hurricanes dominated the game, and coach Ron Wojcik was pleased with the way his team performed, especially against a rival.
"Since I've been here, two of the most exciting games of the year -- other than the tournament -- are the Drury games," he said.
"I've been involved with all them -- Lenox-Lee, Pittsfield-Taconic -- and this is certainly up there with all of them."
The atmosphere at the Bucky Bullett Gymnasium was electric, similar to a playoff game. Unfortunately for Drury coach Jay Meehan, the crowd might have worked against his team early on.
"It was a great crowd, great atmosphere for a high school basketball game. I think our girls were a little overwhelmed by it," he said.
The early jitters showed for the Blue Devils, as Hoosac forced 24 turnovers in the first half.
The Hurricanes' half-court and full-court pressure caused Drury trouble all night. Meehan said their press is not something that can be simulated in practice.
"You can't simulate [the pressure]. Wanting to win is one thing, but doing the things we need to is another," he said.
With nine wins, the Hurricanes sit comfortably atop the South Division standings. Even though his team is one win away from qualifying for Western Mass., Wojcik said they have bigger goals than just qualifying for the postseason.
"We've talked about taking it one game at a time," he said. Looking back and being the defending Western Mass. champs, everybody is going to come after you every night.
"So we take it one game at a time, and focus on the little things. There are things that we could get better at that will help us down the road."
One thing that will help fuel the Hurricanes down the stretch is the solid inside-outside game of both Emily Rosse and Jenn Gale.
With Rosse controlling the paint, and Gale firing from outside, the pair both finished with 15 points and combined for three 3-pointers against Drury.
"[Coach] always tells me to flash in the middle, and post as much as I can. That's what I did tonight," Rosse said.
With the way his team played, Wojcik said their performance could be used a solid step in a postseason run.
"Any rivalry game like this and playing on the road provide playoff atmosphere," he said. "I think those types of things certainly help you going into the tournament."
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