By Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires Sports -
11:35PM / Wednesday, December 19, 2012
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Drury High School girls basketball team has three senior starters.
On a night when one of them struggled offensively, the other two made all the big plays in the final two minutes to propel the Blue Devils to a 35-28 victory over rival Hoosac Valley.
First, senior Ali Tatro stole the ball at the top of the key in the backcourt and went the other way for a lay-in to make it 29-26 with 1 minute, 40 seconds on the clock.
Moments later when Hoosac missed the front end of a one-and-one, Tatro battled for the rebound on the baseline, and Drury got the ball when it went off a member of the Hurricanes.
On the ensuing possession, Drury senior Shannon Garvey put back an offensive rebound to stretch the lead to 31-28 with about a minute on the clock.
After another Hoosac turnover, it was Tatro's turn, taking a feed from Olivia Carlson and knocking down a shot to give Drury the biggest lead for either team to that point, 33-28. And finally, with just a few ticks left, Garvey knocked down a couple of foul shots to provide the final margin.
And all this on a night when Drury's third senior — and leading scorer — Danielle Racette was limited to just two points by Hoosac's box-and-one defense.
Afterward, Tatro credited junior Megan Benoit with sparking the Blue Devils by hitting a 3-point shot with 2:10 left to make it 27-26.
"After Megan hit that shot, I think we all knew that it was down to the final minutes," Tatro said. "Everybody had to step up and play their hardest but be smart about it. So we just worked really hard."
Garvey led all scorers with 14 points, and Tatro scored eight — all in the second half and six in the fourth quarter.
Benoit chipped in with seven for the Blue Devils (3-1), who had been getting a little more than 12 per night from Racette coming into the game.
"We have three solid seniors," Drury coach John Franzoni said. "Ali Tatro played a great game tonight. She was just hampered by foul trouble from the first quarter on. I don't think she played half the game. But when she was out there, she made major contributions at both ends.
"That steal was huge. Then she had a great basket. ... When Ali's on the court, she makes positive things happen. Her foul trouble was a key factor tonight, but to her credit she played the last three of four minutes with four fouls and did a great job."
Benoit added eight rebounds to give the Blue Devils a slight 32-27 edge in that department, and Hoosac (2-2) was hurt by 20 turnovers, including two in the final minute.
"Our game play was two things: We wanted to try to contain Danielle [Racette] and at least play even up or control the boards," Hoosac coach Ron Wojcik said. "I think it was pretty even. They got the one big offensive rebound, which killed us, that one play. But other than that, it comes down to us making plays on the offensive end.
"Drury did a good job. We were out of sync offensively, and it was just the turnovers. We forced some things that weren't there. It told the girls there were three or four possessions when it was 22-22 (to start the fourth quarter), and you look up at the clock, and it was still 22-22, and we had the ball four times, and I think we turned it over three."
Hoosac did take a fourth-quarter lead with 3:36 left when sophomore McKenzie Robinson set up classmate Emily Rosse (12 points) on a baseline inbounds play to make it 26-24.
But after misfiring on its first chance to regain the lead, Drury made its next possession count when Benoit knocked down the team's only triple of the game from the right wing and gave her team the lead for good.
It was no surprise that the game was played in the 30s.
Hoosac came in allowing opponents an average of 33 points per game. Drury has allowed its foes just 29 ppg.
"You play good defense, and you have a chance to compete in every game you play in," Franzoni said. "That was a key for us tonight. We played great defense. We really struggled against their defense. Give coach Wojcik and his team credit for the great defense they played against Danielle and our whole team. They were very physical. They took us out of our game.
"But when you defend the way our team defends, you have a chance to win every game."
Drury's next chance to add to its win total comes after Christmas at the New Leadership Holiday Classic, where the Devils will take on Amherst.
Hoosac has two more games before the holiday, its fourth and fifth home games of the young season on Friday and Saturday in the Hoosac Valley Holiday Tournament.
"We've got the defending D-2 Western Mass champs, Palmer, coming in, and we're hoping to get a crack at them Saturday night in the final," Wojcik said. "It's Taconic and Palmer at 6 (Friday), and then we play Sci-Tech at 7:30.
"It will be another good test for these girls early. We're trying to play up competitionwise early, and these games are only going to help you at the end of the year."