Less than halfway through the season, the Hoosac Valley boys basketball team is three losses away from equaling its loss total for all of last regular season. Hoosac entered the 2015-16 campaign as the defending Western Massachusetts Division III champions, with a deep team of tournament-experienced players.
The Hurricanes most glaring problem early on was their struggle to score, losing by an average margin of 15 points. But, continuing through their Berkshire County schedule, the Hurricanes (3-4) should not be left for dead just yet.
Against Drury on Thursday, the 'Canes showed the ability to space the floor with spot-up jump shooters. Hoosac coach Bill Robinson inserted Dahndray Sistrunk into the starting lineup, replacing forward Javon Reynolds who left the team in late December. Sistrunk knocked down three of the team's seven three-pointers, making the Blue Devils pay for collapsing on forward Jameson Coughlan.
The spacing provided by Sistrunk, Matt Koperniak and Colin Rousseau add another dimension to the Hoosac offense. Robinson said he hopes Thursday's strong shooting performance will jump-start the offense.
"We were lacking confidence," Robinson said. "We had a couple games where we had no shot and got blown out... Hopefully this builds [confidence], because that's all this game is. If you have confidence, you've got totally different kids and a totally different team that's riding confidence."
It's hard to build confidence when there's no real cohesion to the offense. Playing a tough early-season schedule, the Hurricanes failed to score more than 40 points in back-to-back games. Other than Lenox, however, all of Hoosac's losses were to teams with winning records, including a Rutland, Vt., team that's 10-2 coming off a state semifinal appearance in Vermont's highest classification.
With Taconic, Drury and Pittsfield playing well during the non-league schedule, Robinson said his team may be flying under the radar. After Thursday's step in a positive direction, Drury coach Jack Racette said Hoosac is still a team that commands respect.
"You look at their record, but it's the quality of teams they play," he said after Thursday's loss. "You can't go by their record. They're going to be one of the best teams in Berkshire County, and they will make a good run in the Division III tournament."