CHESHIRE -- How does that saying go? It's not how you start, but how you finish?
The Hoosac Valley girls basketball team struggled to find its groove early after a nine-day layoff from its season finale, but figured things out in the second quarter.
The No. 2 Hurricanes scored the final 10 points of the first half to be well on their way to a 71-39 victory over No. 7 Mount Greylock in their Western Massachusetts Division III quarterfinal game. Hoosac plays No. 3 Granby on Tuesday, March 3 at a time to be determined.
"We've had a lot of days off because of the bye. Greylock just came off of a game, but that's what we got to do, we got to keep playing hard at practice like we have been and we got to carry it over to the game," Hoosac's McKenzie Robinson said. "We knew it just had to get going. We knew just play our game, play our game, and then it got going for us."
Turnovers were plentiful from both sides in the first quarter, and that helped Greylock keep pace with Greylock on the scoreboard. The Mounties were having no trouble keeping pace on the court.
Then Hoosac settled into its high-pressure defense, which sparked the 10-0 run to close the half.
The run started with an Emily Rosse (22 points) basket off a nice inside feed from freshman Fallon Field with 2 minutes, 15 seconds to go before halftime. Field (15 points) followed it up with a 3-pointer after Robinson created some space, and then Robinson (12 points) drained a trey before Fallon finished the half with a coast-to-coast basket for a 37-20 lead.
With Hoosac's 8-4 run over the first three minutes of the second half, the 17-point halftime advantage was suddenly 21, and Hoosac was on its way back to the Curry Hicks Cage.
"The intensity from the second half into the third [quarter] just kept moving," Rosse said.
The lead ballooned to 30 midway through the fourth quarter on a Rosse free throw and then again on a Cassidy McMahon 3-pointer with a minute to play before Field's two free throws made it a 32-point cushion.
"I was really nervous," Field said. "But got to play hard for the team."
When both teams struggled early, Greylock's go-to scorer Lucy Barrett found it difficult to shake Meg Rodowicz and Robinson to find the basket. She finished the first half with three points (a 3-pointer with 3:34 left in the half).
It was the secondary scoring that was keeping Greylock within reach. Mackenzie Flynn, Sarah Stripp, Jenna Benzinger and Julia Vlahopoulos all converted in the first quarter, and Arianna Walden contributed in the second quarter.
"Sarah Stripp came up with some big shots when we were struggling to find anything," Greylock coach Paul Barrett said. "We're still really young. We flipped our record more than a little bit from last year."
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