Drury, Lee lead county girls into W. Mass. basketball tournament

Sunday February 24, 2013

The Drury High School girls basketball team is the top seed in the Division II Western Massachusetts tournament, heading up a seven-school Berkshire contingent who will be participating in the postseason.

The Blue Devils (15-3) top a 12-team field in that division. Drury will get a bye in the first round, and play the winner of the South Hadley-Easthampton game on Friday at home at 7 p.m.

"The girls are excited," said Drury coach John Franzoni. "We're playing well, we've won eight games in a row, we think we have a good chance."

However, said Franzoni, "the Division II field is pretty deep. There are a lot of good teams in that field. We think we have a chance to be successful, but we have to play well."

Other Berkshire County teams in Division II include fourth seed Wahconah (11-9), who will play the winner of the Belchertown-Southwick game on Friday night in Dalton, and seventh seed Hoosac Valley (15-5).

"I think what's good about this field is that the Berkshire teams are spread out this year," said Hurricane coach Ron Wojcik. "In previous years, we had to knock each other off to get to the [sectional semifinals at] the [Curry Hicks] Cage [at the University of Massachusetts]. This year, we're all in different brackets."

Hoosac will host No. 10 Palmer at home on Friday night at 7 p.m.

Lee is the No. 2 seed in the Division III field (15-5). The Wildcats will host the winner of the New Leadership-Holyoke Catholic game on Friday night at 7 p.m.

"This is exactly where we thought we'd be," said Wildcat coach Gary Wellington. "Winning our fourth straight Northern Division championship and with our strength of schedule, there were no surprises."

The Wildcats feature the versatile Stephanie Young, the top scorer in the county. But Wellington believes some of Young's teammates must step up to get the Wildcats back to the sectional finals.

"I think [guard] Eileen Dooley is having an incredible year," said Wellington. "She has more than 400 steals and 400 assists for her career, close to 900 points and 300 rebounds. She is a great all-around player. She gives us, with Steph, a great tandem."

Lenox (12-8) is in the No. 4 slot and will host Franklin Tech on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

"I'm pretty happy with our seed," said Millionaire coach Nicole Patella. "We've been playing pretty well, a little smarter now than we were previously."

McCann Tech (7-13) is the No. 9 seed, and coach Mike Dowling believes that the Hornets' tough schedule could benefit the team in the post-season. McCann travels to Monson on Tuesday for a first-round game.

"We've played well in our league," said Downing. "We're going to go out there and see what happens."

Pittsfield (13-7) is the lone county representative in the Division I field. The Generals are seeded ninth and will travel to No. 8 seed Agawam on Tuesday for a first-round game at 7 p.m.

But as coach Joe Racicot pointed out, should the Generals get by the Brownies, they will face top seed Northampton (16-4). One of the Blue Devils' four losses was at Pittsfield earlier in the year.

"We beat them by 12 at home," said Racicot of the Northampton game. "I think the Division I field is wide open. We're penalized because we're the only D-I team in Berkshire County."

Racicot said the Generals' team defense will be the key.

"We've had some problems on offense, although I think we've been shooting better lately," he said. "But even when we have [struggled on offense], our defense has still been there."

The Division I semifinals are set for American International College on March 5 or 6, while Division II and III are slated for the Curry Hicks Cage from March 5-7. The finals are set for March 9 at the Cage.


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