Hoosac Valley girls basketball opens season with road win at Lee

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LEE — The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Despite losing its two leading scorers from last year's MIAA Division III championship squad, the Hoosac Valley girls basketball team rolled past Lee, 73-38, in the home of the Wildcats on opening night.

"It felt great to get back on the court and get started on another great run like last year," sophomore Averie McGrath said. "We lost two great starters and point scorers [in Lexi Mercier and Alie Mendel] so we have to fill those spots."

McGrath scored the first bucket from beyond the arc to give the Hurricanes (1-0) a 3-0 advantage, a lead they never relinquished to the Wildcats (0-1). Not only did McGrath led all scorers with 20 points, but she added three assists to her opening night resume.

"She does a great job as a scorer," Hoosac coach Ron Wojcik said. "It is natural for her. She can shoot, drive and has good court vision. A couple times she drove under pressure and found players down low for a nice assist. She's going to be a great player for us and we hope she continues to improve everyday."

After a 13-point first quarter, the Hurricanes scored 44 points over the game's next 16 minutes on the shoulders of constant ball movement and fast-break offense.

"For the most part we did pretty good [sharing the ball]," Wojcik said. "The girls are learning to play fast right now because that is what we want to do. There are some bumps in the road early and there were a few times we were careless, but for the most part I really appreciate how we ran down the court."

In fact, Riley Robinson, Shaleigh Levesque and Kayley Winn joined McGrath as players with at least three assists.

The Hurricanes implemented a full-court defense early on, but it was a successful half-court press that held the Wildcats to just 13 points in the first half.

"Sometimes teams mix it up and overload the back court with four girls," Wojcik explained. "We just decided to back it up and have been working on the half-court press a bit too because it is tougher to cover the strong teams in the full-court 90 feet. We started trapping at 45 instead and I thought the girls did a nice job with it."

It was a well-rounded effort for the Hurricanes as Robinson added 12 points and four rebounds, Sarah Field had nine points and five rebounds and Winn had 10 points and three assists. Newcomer Gabby Billetz feasted down low with eight points and five rebounds.

"Our passes were a little rough," McGrath said. "But we worked the ball well and made sure to get it inside [the paint]."

It wasn't the start the Wildcats were hoping for on their home court, but there were some encouraging signs from the young, yet experienced, bunch. Guards Carina Brown and Lena Simone showcased ball-handling skills, the fast-break offense and combined to bring down eight rebounds. Sophomore Emma Puleri proved she could do a little of everything with seven points, four rebounds and two assists.

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The Wildcats really found their stride in the third quarter with 11 points lead by four from both Caroline Maloney and Lydia Simone.

"By that third quarter we were all tired, but we dug deep and kept on pushing," Maloney said. "We all cheer for each other and keep each other going. The score doesn't say it, but we kept playing hard."

Maloney and Simone are an established front-court duo for Lee. Maloney finished with four boards and 10 points and Simone had a near double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds.

"We have to look past this game," Maloney said. "We'll talk about our mistakes and learn from them. We know we'll have to fix them headed into our next game."

Lee is off until Tuesday when it has a road match at Turners Falls. Hoosac Valley hosts Taconic Saturday at noon.

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HOOSAC VALLEY (73)

Canales 2-0-6, Billetz 3-1-7, Levesque 3-0-6, Davis 0-0-0, Winn 4-0-10, Robinson 4-2-11, Hugger 1-0-2, Bird 1-0-2, McGrath 7-3-20, Field 3-0-7, Keele 1-0-2, Garabedian 0-0-0. 29-6-73,

LEE (38)

Bartini 0-0-0, B. Kelly 4-0-9, Ly. Simone 4-1-10, K. Kelly 0-0-0, Maloney 5-0-10, Le. Simone 1-0-2, Simmons 0-0-0, Brown 0-0-0, Emma Puleri 3-0-7. 17-1-38

Hoosac Valley     13     21     23     16     —     73

Lee     6     7     11     16     —     38

3-point goals — HV: 9 (McGrath 3, Canales 2, Winn 2, Robinson, Field). LEE: 3 (Puleri, B. Kelly, Ly. Simone).

Jake Mendel can be reached at jmendel@berkshireeagle.com, at @JMendel94 on Twitter and 413-496-6252.

Lee     6     7     11     16     —     38

3-point goals — HV: 9 (McGrath 3, Canales 2, Winn 2, Robinson, Field). LEE: 3 (Puleri, B. Kelly, Ly. Simone).

Jake Mendel can be reached at jmendel@berkshireeagle.com, at @JMendel94 on Twitter and 413-496-6252.

3-point goals — HV: 9 (McGrath 3, Canales 2, Winn 2, Robinson, Field). LEE: 3 (Puleri, B. Kelly, Ly. Simone).

Jake Mendel can be reached at jmendel@berkshireeagle.com, at @JMendel94 on Twitter and 413-496-6252.


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