Three players try to get the ball

From left, Hoosac's Averie McGrath, Wahconah's Hanna Shea and Hoosac's Alyssa Garabedian battle for the ball during a game on Thursday in Dalton. Hoosac went on to win 48-43. 

DALTON — Thursday’s game was a gut-check and benchmark for two teams eyeing postseason success.

The Hurricanes defied the odds of 50/50 balls by scraping for offensive boards and hitting the court whenever necessary in a 48-43 at the home of the Warriors.

“We had to come out and be physically strong,” Hoosac’s Averie McGrath said. “We’re all banged up, but we’re on the floor getting dirty and it all worked out.”

Wahconah led by two at the half, but McGrath quickly changed things with six straight points. The Hurricanes refused to let the Warriors get a shot off as Taylor Garabedian stole some cookies and metaphorically dunked them into the glass on the other end.

Hoosac (8-1) stormed out of the half with a 29-25 advantage, forcing a Wahconah timeout. Emma Belcher tied the game at 33 by sprinting down the court in order to convert Olivia Gamberoni’s steal into two points.

Neither team could find an edge as the score stayed within six points until late in the fourth. The Warriors (9-2) trailed 35-33 and had the final shot of the third quarter, but Alyssa Garabedian planted her feet and took a charge to virtually end the frame.

“We show off our bruises at practice, that is for sure” McGrath joked. “But we’re always there to pick up each other off the floor.”

Hoosac went all-in to begin the fourth, controlling the ball and executing coach Holly McGovern’s play to perfection with Rylynn Witek all alone in the corner. Alyssa Garabedian made the right read and Witek canned the open look.

Hoosac featured three double-digit scorers in Taylor Garabedian, McGrath and Witek. Garabedian had a team-high 14 points, seven rebounds and two assists. McGrath and Witek each had 10 points. Alyssa Garabedian had a team-high four assists and added five rebounds.

“One game it’s one person scoring and then it is someone else the next game,” McGrath said. “We’re passing a lot and we’re picking each other up on and off the court all the time.”

The Hurricanes forced the Warriors into a 24-second violation on the following possession. While it seemed like Wahconah was down, they weren’t out just yet.

“I just keep learning,” Wahconah coach Liz Kay said. “[The Warriors] are all so young and even the seniors didn’t play much before this season.

“I thought we were outmatched on the boards, outmatched in athleticism and outmatched in experience. Yet, we lost the first game of the year by five (57-52 loss at Hoosac on Dec. 10) and they were without Witek. We didn’t have Grace [Wigington] and we lost by five — I think that says an incredible amount about our growth.”

Olivia Gamberoni, who closed with a game-high 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists, picked a pass and made it a two-point game early in the fourth. With the score now 39-37, Wahconah took the lead on the shoulders of Eva Eberwein’s offensive rebound and dish out to Gamberoni, who nailed the trey. Wahconah led 40-39 before Hoosac sealed the game with some hustle plays.

Gabby Billetz (six points and five rebounds) gave Hoosac the lead with a long jumper. Taylor Garabedian stole the ball on Wahconah’s next possession and Witek recovered an offensive rebound before returning it to the sender. Then, Ashlyn Lesure hit a 3-pointer of her own and followed with a block on the defensive end.

Wigington, with five 20-point games and 32 3-point buckets in nine games, is vital to what Wahconah is trying to accomplish. With big-time shoes to fill until she returns, Eberwein and Belcher each scored 10 points. Belcher’s 10 points are a new season-high and she knocked down two 3-pointers. Olivia Mason was crucial for the Warriors on the offensive glass in the third quarter, closing with four points and nine rebounds.

“[They build confidence] themselves,” Kay said. “Sometimes girls will miss the first one and say they won’t take another. You have all your teammates telling you to shoot and they’re supporting each other.

“They came together and it was pretty tremendous... that isn’t something you see when you’re playing in games that aren’t this close or intense.”

The loss snapped a nine-game winning streak for Wahconah. The Warriors will try to kick-start a new streak at home on Tuesday against Amherst.

Hoosac has now won five-straight games, but the girls from Cheshire don’t have much time to recover from Thursday’s heavyweight fight as Lee (4-1) will play at Hoosac at 7 p.m. tonight.


McGrath makes a basket

Hoosac's Averie McGrath makes a basket during a game against Wahconah on Thursday in Dalton. 

Hoosac Valley 6 15 14 13 — 48

Wahconah 14 9 10 10 — 43


Boudreau 0-0-0, Billetz 3-0-6, A. Garabedian 1-1-3, Lesure 2-0-5, Witek 4-1-10, McGrath 4-1-10, T. Garabedian 6-1-14. Totals 20-4-48.


Eberwein 3-3-10, Barry 0-0-0, Belcher 4-0-10, Gamberoni 6-1-15, Drury 0-0-0, Mason 2-0-4, Quinto 1-0-2. Totals 16-4-43.

3-point field goals — HV 4 (Lesure, Witek, McGrath, Garabedian); W 5 (Gamberoni 2, Belcher 2, Eberwein).

Jake Mendel can be reached at or 413-464-3655. On Twitter:


Sports Reporter

As a lifelong Pittsfield resident, Jake gravitates to the nearest field or park. He joined The Eagle as a paperboy in 2005 and worked his way up, becoming a full-time reporter in 2018. He's currently a sports reporter.