Wahconah girls eliminated by Hampshire
WESTHAMPTON >> Chelsea Moussette and Katy O'Connor featured heavily in the Wahconah girls basketball scouting report.
The Warriors planned to not let the Raiders' dual 1,000-point scorers beat them in Thursday's Western Massachusetts Division III quarterfinal.
Instead, they tried to get the ball out of the two stars' hands and force Hampshire's other three players deliver.
"We were worried about Chelsea and about Katy, and the major gameplan was to slow them down and make somebody else beat us," Wahconah coach Liz Kay said. "To their credit, they certainly did. They had other kids hit big shots, and some of them I couldn't tell you what their names are."
Katelyn Pickunka introduced herself with 12 points, and Hampshire prevailed 64-49 to reach the semifinals. There, the third-seeded Raiders will face No. 2 Hoosac Valley.
Hampshire (19-4) led by double digits for the entirety of the second half. Wahconah (13-8) pulled closest when Emmy Cote, who finished with a team-high 18 points, hit a 3 to cut the Raiders' lead to 10 with one minute, 10 seconds left in the third quarter at 44-34.
Moussette crossed up her defender on Hampshire's next possession and canned an off the dribble 3 to push the Raiders' lead back to 13.
"Our defense was really solid tonight, and that's what helped us keep our lead spread out," Moussette said.
She finished with a game-high 20 points and added eight assists and seven steals.
The Warriors did a better job of holding O'Connor in check.
She still finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds but only made three field goals. O'Connor averages 23.5 points per game.
"She takes a lot of contact as a big man and doesn't get many calls, but she always plays hard," Hampshire coach Amy Cyr said.
Hampshire began the third quarter on a 6-0 run made of two Pickunka baskets and a Moussette steal then score. Pickunka scored eight of her 12 points in the third quarter trying to shoulder some of O'Connor's scoring burden.
"She was being double-teamed most of the time, and I felt as the four and other big player I needed to step up and score more," Pickunka said.
The Raiders' defensive pressure built them a 10-point halftime lead at 32-22. They outscored the Warriors 17-7 in that quarter and didn't allow a field goal until there were 5 seconds showing on the clock.
"Towards the second quarter we were playing a lot harder defense. The defense kept our momentum going," Moussette said. "We had to keep that going throughout the whole game."
Both teams struggled to score in the first quarter. Wahconah's Lily Pudlo put the game's first points on the board with 6:02 remaining in the first quarter, and Nicole Buzzee, who finished with 10, scored Hampshire's first basket 32 seconds later.
The Warriors were tied with Hampshire at 15 after eight minutes before the Raiders increased their pressure and started to pull away.
"That's what they do," Kay said. "They can put points on the board, the problem was that we really couldn't after the first quarter."
Wahconah only graduates two seniors – Hannah Brennan and Mikyla Gagliardi. The Warriors return every point from their quarterfinal loss.
"The confidence level of our kids, even when we make mistakes, we don't hang our heads because we're so close," Kay said. "When I think about getting those kids back next year it's because they're great kids. They're very together, and very bonded."
McMahon 0-0-0, Brennan 0-0-0, Zink 2-1-6, McIlquham 4-2-10, Cote 5-5-18, Puello 2-2-6, Dougherty 1-4-6, Gagliardi 0-0-0, O'Connor 1-1-3, Gamberoni 0-0-0. Totals 15-15-49.
Moussette 7-5-20, Turgeon 1-0-3, Buzzee 4-0-10, Pickunka 5-2-12, Abel 1-0-3, Labrecque 1-0-3, Goodwon 0-0-0, Dearborn 0-0-0, C. O'Connor 1-0-2, K. O'Connor 3-4-11, West 0-0-0, S. Aldrich 0-0-0, O. Aldrich 0-0-0. Totals 23-11-64.
3-point goals — W 4 (Cote 3, Zink). H 7 (Moussette, Turgeon, Buzzee 2, Abel, Labrecque, K. O'Connor).