DALTON -- Senior co-captain Gabby Lavinio scored 23 points, including draining 10 of 11 foul shots, as the Wahconah Regional girls basketball team defeated Belchertown, 51-46 in a Western Mass. Division II quarterfinal Saturday afternoon.
The Warriors (12-9) advance to the semifinals next week, and will face top seed Drury on Thursday at 8 p.m. at the University of Massachusetts' Curry Hicks Cage.
"It's always fun to play Drury," said Lavinio, when asked about her team's next opponent. "They're a good team."
This was a slog of a game. Both teams weren't hitting particularly well from the outside, which meant that the team with a more successful inside game and who hit their foul shots would be in a better position to win it.
That was Wahconah. The Warriors went 16 for 22 from the line and got solid inside play from Shannon Lussier (13 points, six rebounds), Maddie Sprague (10 points, a game-high nine rebounds) and substitute Sara Wilson (no points, but seven rebounds and solid interior defense).
"We tightened it up defensively in the second half and hit our foul shots," said Warrior coach June Blake. "That's kind of the story."
The two teams were tied after a quarter, and a nice 5-0 run by the visiting Orioles in the last 1:11 of the half gave Belchertown a 26-23 advantage at halftime.
But Wahconah came out after intermission with a bit more intensity, according to Lavinio.
"I think it was just a matter of stepping it up a little, particularly on defense," she said.
The Warriors did pick it up defensively, going on a 10-1 run in the first four minutes of the quarter. Lavinio and Lussier hit some big shots in that span, and Lussier and Sprague did a good job keeping Belchertown's frontcourt players, Jillian Cavanaugh and Marissa Kopacz, from doing any damage in the paint.
But the Orioles never really quit. Guard Tea Spallacy hit some deep bombs and the game seesawed between four and eight points the rest of the way.
A Sprague three-pointer seemed to ice it at 43-34 with 6:10 left in the game. But Belchertown responded with a 4-0 run and stayed close the rest of the way.
The visitors never got closer than four, even after Wilson spelled Lussier, who eventually fouled out.
Lavinio also contributed six rebounds and four assists.
Spallacy had 17 points to lead Belchertown, while Cavanaugh had eight points and eight rebounds.
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