Hoosac Valley girls ride third-quarter run to win over Minnechaug to cap Coaches vs. Cancer showcase


CHESHIRE — A lot of people have been asking the Hoosac Valley girls basketball team if it's back, and it hasn't really had an answer.

After Saturday night's 62-47 win over Minnechaug in the Coaches vs. Cancer Showcase nightcap, the Hurricanes are thinking that they're back.

In the third quarter of the seventh game of Saturday's showcase event, Minnechaug's Gabby Ofcarcik drove the lane for a bucket, making it a 35-32 game. What happened next was vintage Hoosac basketball.

Starting with a Gabby Billetz free throw at the 3-minute, 50-second mark of the frame, the Hurricanes (9-3) went on a staggering 17-2 run, filled almost entirely by points off turnovers.

Averie McGrath stole the ball following Billetz's miss on the second freebie, and drew a foul to convert on two. Minnechaug then turned it over on a  Billetz steal, and Billetz eventually drew a foul. After going 1 of 2, Hoosac led 39-32.

The Falcons then turned it over again, and Riley Robinson drew another foul on a drive to the rim and hit her free attempts. 41-32.

The teams then traded turnovers, before Hoosac drew a charge to force another. Back the other way, Shaleigh Levesque found Billetz down low for the hoop. Levesque then stole the ball herself, and after a held ball went to Hoosac, Robinson dished to McGrath. Then, Robinson had another steal, and went the distance to make it 47-32.

Ballgame, with nine minutes still to play.

"I don't know if you could hear us in the locker room [after the game]. We were banging on the lockers," said Billetz. "We're really excited."

Lily Grono finally stopped the run, but Hoosac still added five more points before the stanza ended, and the 'Canes led 52-34. Minnechaug mounted a small run to start the fourth and got the deficit to 53-44 on a finish by Ofcarcik at the rack, but Robinson responded on the next possession with a free throw, and the lead didn't dip below double digits again.

The win is the third of the week for the Hurricanes, and the streak comes off the back of a terrible shooting performance at the Hoophall Classic against Millbury. The Hurricanes started the week with a win over Pittsfield on Monday, then pulled out a win at Wahconah on Thursday, before turning around and finishing off the Falcons.

The Hurricanes knew they needed to shoot better. On Saturday night, they did.

"We just have to get a rhythm going," said senior Sarah Field. "Just passing the ball around, getting it to the open person and not just chucking up 3s. I'm really proud of my team tonight, how we got the ball moving around and how we got a rhythm."

Field played a huge part. While Robinson led everyone with 19 points, Field canned five treys in the win, and finished with 17 points. Hoosac coach Ron Wojcik said the plan was to get Field coming off screens to force the Minnechaug bigs out of the paint. When Field got her looks, she nailed them.

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"Well, coach always tells me when I shoot the ball to keep my hand up, and keep it straight," Field said. "I was doing that during the game. Before the game my shots weren't going in, but I kept practicing hoping that they would go in during the game, and they did."

Wojcik said he was impressed with how all five of his starters contributed in what was a primetime game against a Division I opponent.

"They all stepped up at different times doing different things," Wojcik said. "That's us a lot as a team. If you have a team with that many people who can step up, that's huge."

Billetz, a freshman, went for six points and seven boards as she continues to develop in crunch minutes. Levesque, one of the two smallest players on the court Saturday, hauled down 10 boards and had six steals to go with four points and four assists. Field canned the aforementioned triples, Robinson had a ho-hum 19-point, seven-assist, three-steal, three-rebound night, and McGrath had 13 points, including going 5 for 5 at the charity stripe in the second half.

"We've been working more as a team, passing the ball more, getting people open looks if they are on," Robinson said. "I think today, especially with the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament, because it's our school and we put this on, we take a lot of pride in that.

"We wanted to show our support, and obviously represent this tournament, and because we are hosting it, we wanted to come out successful."



Grono 5-1-11, Sanborn 1-0-2, Howard 2-1-5, Barry 5-0-10, Bartolomei 2-2-6, Cronin 3-0-7, Ofcarcik 3-0-6. Totals 21-4-47.


Canales 1-0-3, Billetz 2-2-6, Levesque 1-2-4, Winn 0-0-0, Robinson 4-9-19, Hugger 0-0-0, Bird 0-0-0, McGrath 4-5-13, Field 6-0-17. Totals 18-18-62

Minnechaug     11     13     10     13     —     47

Hoosac     16     13     23     10     —     62

3-point goals — M 1 (Cronin), HV 8 (Field 5, Robinson 2, Canales).

Geoff Smith can be reached at gsmith@berkshireeagle.com, @GSmith_Eagle on Twitter and 413-496-6254.


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