Can Drury, Hoosac girls set up an all-North County W. Mass. final?
CHESHIRE -- The rivalry between Hoosac Valley and Drury is intense enough.
Imagine if both schools' girls basketball teams win tonight and they meet in a Western Massachusetts Division II final.
"I can't imagine a Drury-Hoosac game for the finals in the Cage," said Hurricanes coach Ron Wojcik. "I think it'd be off the charts. I don't know if anyone outside of Adams or North Adams would be able to get in."
That will be the goal when the two teams make the trip to Amherst and the Curry Hicks Cage for the sectional semifinals. Seventh-seeded Hoosac will face No. 6 Mahar at 6 p.m. before the No. 1 Blue Devils play county rival Wahconah at 7:30. The winners play Saturday for the Western Mass. title.
"It's great to have three Berkshire County teams into the semifinals," said Drury coach John Franzoni. "It speaks to the quality of basketball in the county. We've had a good summer program. ... Hoosac's done the same thing. That extra playing time really pays dividends now."
No player on either team has ever made it this far. The Blue Devils (16-3) are back at the Cage after falling a round short the last four years. In Franzoni's first five years at the school, Drury made the trip annually.
Hoosac (18-5) doesn't have that tradition. Wojcik's bunch is making its first trip here. It's the first time the Hurricanes have stayed alive this long since 1992. Wojcik has been here four times before as Pittsfield's boys coach.
"Even though we have a couple of seniors, the bulk of our team is underclassmen," Wojcik said. "With my boys teams it was always my seasoned teams that got there. I don't think I was able to get there with a young group. I think it's a great accomplishment."
Hoosac senior Tori Rumbolt has watched games in Amherst but today will be the first time she's stepped on the court as a player there. Like her counterparts in North Adams, she's excited for the opportunity.
"It's pretty amazing," Rumbolt said. "Most [spring] sports are starting up and it's really good to say, ‘You know what, I'm still in basketball. We're going far.' "
Both teams share a defensive approach that Franzoni said is crucial this time of year. Hoosac has relied on pressure all season, while the Blue Devils' defense is one of the tightest Wojcik has seen. It makes life difficult, especially late in games.
It helped each reach the Cage with thrilling quarterfinal victories. Hoosac needed double overtime to seal an upset of No. 2 Hampshire. If these teams want to see each other one more time this year, they'll need to lock the Cage down.
"Hoosac pressures a lot and they have a lot of good athletes," said Drury senior Danielle Racette. "If you play defense, you win games. I think it wins games for us. If you don't let other teams score you have a good chance at winning."
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