Photo Gallery | Hoosac Valley rallies for win over South Hadley
SPRINGFIELD — As big as Madi Ryan's 3-pointer was for Hoosac Valley, Kailynne Frederick's forced turnover on the ensuing possession was even bigger as the Hurricanes squeaked out a 64-62 come-from-behind win over South Hadley on Friday in the Hoophall Classic at Springfield College.
Ryan's shot put Hoosac back in the lead at 61-60 with just over 30 seconds remaining. The senior hit the shot with absolute aplomb on a pass from Fallon Field.
But the Hurricanes had trouble all night slowing down a potent South Hadley attack, and up just one they needed another stop.
The junior center left the painted area and stretched out to the 3-point line where South Hadley's Mikhaila Edge had the ball. Frederick got up inside Edge, and the Tiger shuffled her feet to turn the ball over.
Field (9 points) then went to the free-throw line after a foul and hit a pair of freebies to put Hoosac up 63-60, and that was all the Hurricanes needed for the win.
"It wasn't planned," Ryan (22 points) said of her 3-pointer. "We just said run and look for the open layups. My girls helped off me and I just played basketball. I didn't think about it, I didn't think about the score — I just shot it with confidence thinking it was going in."
"I think my mind was basically just saying we had to get the ball back and not let them score," Frederick (game-high 23 points) said of her forced turnover. "Just to do everything in my ability to make it happen."
It was fitting that those two were central in helping Hoosac pull out the win. At the start of the fourth with Hoosac trailing 45-39, Frederick scored Hoosac's first nine points of the quarter, abusing the South Hadley defense on pick-and-roll plays to the basket.
Then, it was Ryan's turn. After setting up Frederick's bucket to make it 52-48 in favor of South Hadley, Ryan took a steal and finished at the rim, grabbed another steal and made a free throw, then got the ball off a South Hadley miss and canned a 3-pointer from beyond NBA range. The three put Hoosac up 54-52 — the team's first lead since the beginning of the third quarter.
"It was just, we were really, really proud of them as a coaching staff," Hoosac coach Ron Wojcik said of his team. "We were down most of the game, we didn't have our best game. A lot of that was due to South Hadley. I thought in the last four or five minutes we buckled down on both ends of the court.
"[Ryan's] a senior, and she's been doing that for us since she was a freshman. When I saw her wanting the ball back and start winding it up, I was pretty confident that she was definitely going to get a good look at it."
Then, the coach saw exactly what he wanted out of his team on defense — a big stop.
"[Frederick's] one of our team leaders in steals, she moves her feet very well for a big and I have no problem with her [going out to guard people]," Wojcik said. "A lot of those bigs aren't comfortable with the ball, and she went out and forced a travel. I think that was a huge play."
The ending was par for the course when it comes to Hoosac Valley and South Hadley. After the Tigers battled to a one-point win earlier in the season, the anticipation going into Friday was that fans would see more of the same.
And did they ever.
"That's a good team," South Hadley coach Paul Dubuc said of Hoosac. "They shoot well, they force mistakes and they capitalize on it. They did a great job on the pick and roll, I thought we let a couple of those go. We'd love to play them again sometime."
The game teetered between the two sides from the start. Hoosac ran out to an early lead, South Hadley responded and took a 17-12 lead into the second quarter behind a nine-point frame from Sophie Gatzounas (23 points). Hoosac then answered, and took a 29-28 lead into halftime.
In the third, South Hadley looked ready to pull away. Behind an incredible effort from Lexi Gawron (15 points), South Hadley held a 45-36 lead with 2:10 to go in the third. The teams did not score for the next 2:09, but just when it looked like South Hadley would hold the nine-point edge going into the fourth, Ryan hit one of her five 3-pointers at the horn to make it 45-39.
With the stage then set, Hoosac came out in the last eight and showed why they are three-time defending Western Mass. champions.
"It's really exciting [playing in a game like this]," Ryan said. "We love having close games and pulling it out in the end. It really shows our heart and our love for the game. It's really fun having close games, it's more intense."
Hoosac finished 24 of 61 shooting, and 8 of 28 from distance. South Hadley shot 22 of 51, and just 3 of 18 from three. Hoosac forced 22 turnovers to its 15. Ryan, Frederick and Field finished with six rebounds each, while Field had six assists and Ryan had five. For South Hadley, Gatzounas finished with a double double with 12 rebounds.
Now, there's only one question left to be asked — can we get a third game in the Western Mass. tournament?
HOOSAC VALLEY (64)
Frederick 11-1-23, Ryan 7-3-22, F. Field 2-4-9, McMahon 1-0-3, Mendel 1-0-3, Merier 1-0-2, E. Field 1-0-2, Case 0-0-0. Totals 24-8-64.
SOUTH HADLEY (62)
Gatzounas 7-8-23, 6-1-15, A. Edge 5-4-14, M. Edge 2-1-5, Conner 2-0-4, Medina 0-1-1. Totals 22-15-62.
3-point goals: HV (Ryan 5, Field, McMahon, Mendel), SH (Gawron 2, Gatzounas).