It has rarely taken this long to settle an annual Hoosac-Drury rivalry.
The top-seeded Blue Devils and the seventh-seeded Hurricanes will square off in today's Western Massachusetts Division II girls basketball championship. It's the renewal of a classic, decades-old community rivalry.
"It's a factor," said Drury coach John Franzoni of the rivalry, "The kids think about it. With two communities in such close proximity, it's a game for bragging rights."
The game is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. at the Curry Hicks Cage at the University of Massachusetts.
Drury took both regular-season contests over the Hurricanes, but both coaches said that in a game like this, with both teams playing so well, those games are ancient history.
"The first game was very close," said Hoosac Valley coach Ron Wojcik. "In the second game, we didn't play well. But the way we're playing now, we are very confident about [today]."
Franzoni did not disagree.
"Hoosac is playing very well right now," he said. "We expect a good game."
The contest is one of tempo more than anything else. The Hurricanes press and run and press and run some more. Sitting close to the Hurricane bench, one generally hears Wojcik uttering the same exhortation over and over again when Hoosac gets the ball in transition: "Okay, let's go. Run, run, run!"
For many teams, it is difficult not to get caught up in that frenetic pace. In Thursday night's semifinal, Mahar Regional tried to keep the game under their control, but eventually succumbed to the Hoosac transition game.
But the difference in this game may well be Drury point guard Danielle Racette. None of the teams the Hurricanes have beaten in the postseason have the overall ability of the Blue Devils' backcourt player.
"No, those teams Hoosac played [in this year's tournament] didn't have anyone as athletic or as smart as Danielle," said Franzoni. "That should be to our
Racette is a superb ballhandler and has an excellent sense of how to keep the court balanced. As long as she has the ball in her hands, the Blue Devils will be able to run the offense through their frontcourt players.
Hoosac's task, then, will be to reduce Racette's touches and rebound and defend well enough to put its team in position to unleash the Hurricanes' relentless transition game.
"We're all in shape," said Wojcik. "Our aim is to wear the other team out. I have to play 10 players to do that. You can't do it with five, or even eight. You need everybody."
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