CHESHIRE, Mass. -- The Pittsfield girls' basketball team struggled with foul trouble for most of its game against Hoosac Valley on Tuesday night. The Generals got all of their starters back on the court in the fourth quarter, however, and found their rhythm just in time to earn a 42-30 road win over the Hurricanes.
The first three quarters were not the prettiest ones Pittsfield (11-4) has played this season, but the fourth quarter proved just how dominant the Generals can be when they all play together as a team. Nursing just a one-point lead at the start of the fourth, Joe Racicot's squad outscored the hosts 17-6 to put the game away. The visitors' staunch half-court defense was a big key to their success in the fourth quarter, holding Hoosac (11-5) to just three field goals and zero free-throw attempts over the final eight minutes of the game.
"All of our starters really work well together," Pittsfield captain Courtney McLaughlin said. "We really picked up the intensity [in the fourth quarter] because we really wanted this game. We have this new defense that's like a 2-3, but one of the girls on top goes up and pressures. The other girl looks to trap, while our outside girls look to steal. This worked well for us tonight, and we got a lot of steals."
McLaughlin was one of those Generals' starters who didn't make much of an impact in the first three quarters of play. The Pittsfield guard, who leads her team with a 15.13 scoring average this season, missed most of the first half with foul trouble before later receiving a technical in the third quarter for contesting a non-call. McLaughlin's running mate, junior Dominique Satrape, also had three fouls by the end of the first half, leaving her on the bench at the start of the third quarter.
"We had three kids on the bench with two fouls early in the first quarter," Racicot said. "It was that kind of game. We talked to the referees, basically, but it didn't help any until the second half. I thought they let them play a little more in the second half. The bottom line is that I thought our kids adjusted pretty well to the pressure in the second half. They found the open man, and we were crashing the boards to get one or two more opportunities."
While they didn't make much of a difference early on, McLaughlin and Satrape came up with some big plays in the fourth quarter to help their team clinch the win. McLaughlin finally got on the board at the start of the fourth quarter by sinking one of two foul shots. After the Hurricanes' Erika Lucia scored on an inbounds play to tie the game, Satrape sank a runner on the left wing to give the Generals the lead for good.
McLaughlin then found junior forward Tiffany Robinson unguarded on the block for a point-blank look the next time up the court. Robinson sank the lay in while being fouled and then rattled home the free throw to give the visitors a five-point edge. After Hoosac missed on the other end, McLaughlin went coast to coast for lay-up, pushing Pittsfield's lead to 33-26.
"It seems like once when we shut down offensively, we struggle on offense and have some turnovers, we shut down defensively as well," Hoosac head coach Ron Wojcik said. "We stopped being aggressive with our traps, and that really was the difference in the first half. We forced 17 turnovers in the first half, but we only forced five in the second half."
Senior Tori Rumbolt broke up the Generals' seven-point run by scoring on a baseline floater in transition, making it a five-point game with roughly four minutes left to go. The Pittsfield offense had a quick answer, however, moving the ball around until Allie Hunt (five points, four rebounds) was found underneath for another 3-point play. Hunt made both the lay up and the foul to push the Generals' lead to eight points.
The 'Canes answered with a baseline jumper by sophomore Emily Rosse (team-leading seven points), but Satrape sealed the deal by making a steal and finishing off the lay-up with two minutes left in the game. Satrape finished with 10 points in the game, sinking a pair of 3-pointers in the first half.
"Those plays [down low] were open in the first half also, but the thing is they were a little fatigued and, hopefully, we wore them down a little bit," Racicot said. "Just that half second off helped us get a two 3-point baskets off of that, and we made the free throws."
Foul shooting was a big issue for the Hoosac on Tuesday night. The Hurricanes were just 2 of 9 from the charity stripe in the first half, when their defense held Pittsfield to just 15 first-half points. Hoosac's missed opportunities against the Generals' second unit came back to haunt them in the end.
"We could been up by 10 at halftime if we had made our free throws," Wojcik said. "We just missed. You can't miss them against a good team."
Racicot was quick to point out the effort of his bench, led by sophomore forward Lauren Carnevale, who scored nine of her game-high 11 points between the second and third quarters when Pittsfield was without several starters.
"Our young kids have been chipping in all year long," Racicot said. "For them to hold off the masses and keep us within one point in that second quarter was key. They played some tough defense, and we didn't score much offense, but they did what they had to do to keep us close enough."
McLaughlin was also thankful for the second unit and Carnevale, who led the team with seven rebounds as well.
"She played very well," McLaughlin said. "She's usually very tough. For a sophomore coming in, she's very aggressive and she really gets rebounds. She has just one speed and flies up the court."
The Generals next host Monument Mountain at 7 p.m. on Thursday. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, host Mount Everett at the same time that night.