SPRINGFIELD -- Heading into Tuesday's MIAA state Division III semifinal matchup against Bellingham, Hoosac Valley girls basketball coach Ron Wojcik said his team would have its hands full with the Blackhawks' post players.
Bellingham center Sabrina Ulsh had a big game down low for the Blackhawks, finishing with a game-high 24 points. Hoosac forward Emily Rosse came up big when she needed to, grabbing key rebounds and blocking critical shots to seal the 54-52 win for Hoosac.
In the fourth quarter, the Blackhawks really started to pound the ball inside. Ulsh made two consecutive layups while being fouled. She made both free throws. Her second and-one cut Hoosac's lead to five with more than 4 minutes remaining in the game.
Despite Ulsh's surge in the fourth quarter, Rosse stayed aggressive and made two big blocks with less than two minutes remaining in the game to clinch the victory.
"Rosse made a play and got a block from behind," Wojcik said. "It was a couple of plays like that, that were big."
"It was different than what we experienced before," Rosse said. "They were a lot bigger and tougher, and they battle you. Coach said to save your fouls for the second half, and if you could get a clean block to go up and take it. That's what I did."
Rosse played with great energy all game for the Hurricanes. Despite giving up several inches to her opponents inside, she never stopped battling.
Hoosac was outrebounded throughout the game, but in the second half, Wojcik said he emphasized the importance of using hustle and effort when rebounding.
"I think they took it to us, certainly in the first half. We weren't matching up well," he said. "We were getting on them about rebounding, even if you're outsized. We talked about beating them to ball."
Hoosac's rebounding improved in the second half, but it was the team's strong 3-point shooting throughout the game that helped them hold on to the lead.
Six different Hurricanes hit 3-pointers during the game.
McKenzie Robinson and Amber Lesure knocked down 3-pointers about 10 seconds apart to end the first half for Hoosac. The 3-pointers gave Hoosac energy to start the half, but it was the shooting by defensive stopper Meg Rodowicz that was a pleasant surprise for Hoosac.
"Nothing was really open," Rodowicz said. "They were taking Rosse and Jenn [Gale] away, so I had to try and generate our offense with those threes. We're all really good 3-pointer shooters. So when it's our night, it's our night."
Rodowicz led Hoosac with 13 points. Rosse and Gale each had 12 points.
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