Hoosac Valley Girls Knock Off Minnechaug
CHESHIRE, Mass. -- The seeds for Saturday's statement win for the Hoosac Valley girls basketball team may have been planted 48 hours earlier.
Riding the momentum of a dramatic league win on Thursday night in Dalton, the Hurricanes overpowered Division 1 Minnechaug to win, 62-47, in the finale of the Coaches Vs. Cancer Showcase.
Riley Robinson led three players in double figures, scoring 19 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists. Sarah Field scored 17, and Averie McGrath added 13 -- 11 in the second half.
"Coming off that [Wahconah] win, that was a tremendous win by us," Robinson said. "We also gutted that one out, and I think we came into this game knowing that we had nothing to fear. We had to come together and play our game, and when we play our game, I don't think anyone can stop us."
Field agreed that the Hurricanes (9-3) were able to take some of Thursday's game with them into the showdown with Chaug.
"There was a lot of momentum," she said. "We had our coaches talking about our intensity, and if we played with that same intensity tonight, we would win.
"I think we came out with that same intensity and came out with a win against a good D1 team."
Field helped Hoosac Valley keep pace with the Falcons in a back-and-forth first half that ended with the Hurricanes up, 29-24.
The senior tri-captain hit three 3-pointers on the way to an 11-point half.
"The basket looked pretty big," she said with a smile. "I just kept my hand up when I was shooting, making sure they would go in. Before, my shots weren't falling, and coach Ron [Wojcik] always tells us to keep it on the front rim, and hopefully it will go in."
It was 20-20 with 3:32 left in the second quarter when shots started falling in a big way for Hoosac Valley.
First, Robinson hit a 3-pointer to put the Hurricanes ahead. Then, after Minnechaug got a basket from Lily Grono (team-high 11), Robinson connected again from beyond the arc, this time with an assist from Shaleigh Levesque, to make it 26-22.
The next time down the floor for Hoosac, Field grabbed an offensive rebound to extend the possession and ended up on the receiving end of another Levesque assist for a triple that made it 29-22.
Chaug got back within five at half-time, and it was a three-point game midway through the third quarter when Hoosac went on a 17-2 run.
McGrath scored four times during that stretch. She ended the run by taking an outlet pass from Gabby Billetz, driving to the basket and scoring while drawing a foul. She completed the conventional three-point play to put Hoosac Valley up, 52-34, going to the fourth.
It looked like an 18-point margin might be insurmountable, but Minnechaug rallied, using a 10-1 spurt to get the margin down to single digits, 53-44, with four minutes left to play.
"Minnechaug's a good team, and when they came back in that fourth quarter, you can't take that lightly," Robinson said. "They can come back any second, and there was plenty of time left when they came back. I think we just got ourselves together and started talking more. We started to slow down the pace [against Chaug's] press. We had started to get a little bit jittery and nervous.
"But in the end, we gutted it out and finished strong."
After committing five turnovers and scoring one point on its first eight possessions of the fourth quarter, Hoosac Valley scored on back-to-back trips, both free throws by Robinson, to stretch the lead back to 55-44.
She hit another free throw with 1:15 on the clock to give the Hurricanes a 56-45 lead, and she hit the team's only field goal of the quarter moments later to help put the game away.
"That's a good team, and you know a team like that isn't going to be done," Wojcik said. "I was hoping we could keep going and going in the third and get that lead as big as we could because you never know with a team like that. They run the floor, they get up and down, they shoot 3s.
"I think we finished our layups pretty well tonight, but you have to make shots against a team like that because there aren't going to be many rebounds. They clean up the boards so well. Sarah stepped up, made some shots, a couple of clutch shots. We called sets for her because we knew from scouting that their big didn't always come out, so we popped Sarah out and she had a little bit of room and nailed a couple of big 3s. That got us going a little bit."
Hoosac Valley will look to continue its momentum and go for a fourth straight win on Monday when it hosts Mount Everett.