AMHERST -- The Hoosac Valley girls basketball team has relied upon Meg Rodowicz to be a stalwart defensively.
She showcased her talents guarding top-tier point guards during the Hurricanes' run to the program's first Western Massachusetts championship last season. Rodowicz has continued that this season, but in Saturday's Division III title game against Sabis, coach Ron Wojcik needed her to establish herself in the low post -- offensively.
"I don't really focus on anything offensively," she said. "But I try to help my team out best I can."
The senior Hurricane not only found a home in the paint alongside regular post player Emily Rosse, but she also made an impact.
Hoosac was in the middle of a 13-2 run spanning the first and second quarters of Saturday's 72-41 win at Curry Hicks Cage when the chemistry Wojcik saw early in the season connected for the first time.
Rodowicz gained control on the baseline at the edge of the paint, and quickly fed Rosse for the basket and a 23-14 lead. Rosse was fouled and made the free throw, and what was a one-point game only two minutes ago was suddenly a 10-point Hoosac advantage.
"The last couple times we saw zones, her and Rosse worked really well together, passing the ball back and forth down low," Wojcik said. "So we went with that. It gives us a little bigger presence down there, but she did a great job with it today. They're a huge team.
Aside from 6-foot-2 Casie Thurber, the Hurricanes also had to contend with the leaping ability of 5-10 Kelsie Jacobs, who registered at least a half-dozen blocks.
It made Rodowicz's post presence even more important. The two worked in tandem much of the game, and another connection jump-started a 15-0 run early in the fourth quarter to push Hoosac's lead out to 30 with 3:40 to play.
Rosse finished with 17 points, while Rodowicz had six.
"She can play outside, she can play inside. If she's inside posting, then I was open like I was tonight," Rosse said. "I just look for the openings as much as possible."
Rodowicz only recorded an assist on a few of Rosse's baskets, but just by her being on the inside, it eventually drew some coverage away from Rosse.
"They were taking Rosse away a little bit," Rodowicz said. "They were doing a box-and-one on her in the beginning, so everyone else had to step up and try to generate some points."
When Rodowicz wasn't feeding Rosse with quick, short passes, she was using her height to grab rebounds and give the guards another option on the inside. Sabis negated Hoosac's dribble penetration early, so having Rodowicz just outside the paint made moving the ball to past the first line of defense easier.
"Having Meg be so tall, she can just put her hands up," Madi Ryan said. "It's really helpful having her and Rosse down low."
Rodowicz's success down low also helped keep the pressure off freshman Kailynne Frederick, who was playing in her first Western Mass. tournament.
"It allows us to play her up front defensively, but then we have the flexibility to get her down low," Wojcik said. "There's not too many players that can play two positions like that."
The Hurricanes will play in a state semifinal for the second straight season on Wednesday, against Central Mass. champion Bellingham. When they reached that stage last year, they had trouble with Nashoba's height. They've been preparing for teams with more height this season.
"We hadn't used it a lot because we hadn't really needed to," Wojcik said. "But we started working on it really hard the last couple of weeks figuring if we see bigger teams They've done a really good job together."