Photo Gallery | Hoosac Valley girls top Drury on Senior Night
CHESHIRE — The Drury girls basketball team gave Hoosac Valley fits in the opening exchanges of Monday's Senior Night game in Cheshire.
But like the home fans have become used to, the Hurricanes sorted out their problems and rolled on to a 55-40 victory that secures the team a share of the Berkshire North title.
"I think nerves more than anything [played into the start]," Hoosac coach Ron Wojcik said. "With Senior Night, even the other kids that are non-seniors were nervous for the seniors tonight. I thought that had a little bit to do with some of our shots and shot selection early."
Drury (14-6, 6-4 Berkshire North) also played a defense that even the most hardcore hoops fan isn't used to — a stick-and-three man/zone scheme.
With three Blue Devils face-guarding players — most notably Hoosac starters Madi Ryan, Fallon Field and Alie Mendel — and two stacked up in the paint, Drury burst out of the gate and went up 9-2 on a finish underneath by Katie Toomey (game-high 17 points), who scored all nine to start.
The start was exactly how coach Brian Flagg drew it up. But the Hurricanes (17-5, 8-2 North) threw a wrench in his plans when Ryan canned a pair of threes to get the offense going and help the team to a 9-2 run to end the quarter.
"It worked. It had them confused, we knew that would be our window and we did exactly what we wanted to do," Flagg said. "But then we just turned the ball over. Give Hoosac Valley credit, they play great defense, they are an experienced team and they know how to close."
Hoosac grabbed its first lead on the first bucket of the second — a backdoor cut by Kailynne Frederick (8 points) assisted by Ryan — and never relinquished it the rest of the way.
Drury kept the deficit close and had it at 18-14 on a Toomey free throw, but Frederick hit a freebie of her own and Lexi Mercier (8 points) and Field (13 points) added buckets to put Hoosac up nine. At the break, the Hurricanes led 28-19.
"I think our team just kind of thought we have more than just three players," McMahon, who hit a pair of wide-open 3-pointers, said of figuring out the Drury defense. "They can't just guard three players and leave two open because we can all play basketball."
In the second half Hoosac continued to keep Drury at bay. The Blue Devils trimmed the lead to seven, 38-31, after three on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Molly Moulton (15 points), but a three from Skylar Case two minutes into the fourth put Hoosac back up 10 to stymie Drury's momentum.
The win gave Hoosac a share of the Berkshire North crown after three straight outright titles. For Ryan and McMahon, the win meant they got to finish how they started their varsity basketball careers — as league champions.
"Yeah, sometimes you can't even put it into words," Wojcik said on what it meant for his two seniors to win the league again. "They've been with us for five years. It's been great to have them in the program. They are both great kids, and just to see them be able to do that — against your rivals no less — I'm really, really happy for them."
Both teams not turn their sights to the Western Mass. Division III tournament. For Drury, Flagg said that Monday's game gave him two things to work on before the playoffs start — turnovers and scoring.
"We have to score points," Flagg said. "We have to take care of the basketball. If you turn it over and give free looks, you aren't going to win many games that way. And, you have to score points. You can't score 30-something, low 40s, especially against a great team like this and expect to win."
In the game, Hoosac forced 24 Drury turnovers to their 14.
For Wojcik, Monday's game was important momentum-wise after the Hurricanes went 3-4 over their final seven games and just 1-4 against tournament-bound sides.
"We played well down at Monument [Mountain] the other night and this helps, it gives us some momentum," Wojcik said. "The two Boston teams were really, really good. We were frustrated. It's a catch-22, you want to play that competition to get better, but you don't want the kids getting down so that they are losing their confidence, too."
Field finished with 14 rebounds, four assists and four steals in the win while Frederick added a pair of blocks. Liv Carlson had 15 rebounds and three blocks in the loss and Toomey had 13 boards to cap a double-double.
Digennaro 1-0-2, Shook 0-0-0, Lamarre 0-0-0, M. Moulton 3-8-15, Toomey 7-2-17, J. Moulton 0-0-0, Carlson 2-2-6. Totals 13-12-40.
HOOSAC VALLEY (55)
Mercier 3-1-8, F. Field 5-3-13, McMahon 2-0-6, E. Field 0-0-0, Ryan 3-3-11, Mendel 2-2-6, Case 1-0-3, Frederic 3-1-8. Totals 19-10-55.
3-point goals — D 2 (M. Moulton, Toomey), HV 7 (McMahon 2, Ryan 2, Case, Frederick, Mercier).