By Stephen Dravis
06:41PM / Monday, March 11, 2013
WORCESTER, Mass. — A magical run for the Hoosac Valley girls' basketball team came to an end on Monday afternoon when it ran into a team that did the same thing it does ... just a little bit better.
Celia Burke scored 13 points, and Nashoba played smothering defense to earn a 52-32 win over the Hurricanes in the semifinals of the Division 2 state tournament at the DCU Center.
"I thought they beat us at our own game, getting up and down the court in transition tonight," Hoosac coach Ron Wojcik said. "They moved the ball well against our press. We haven't really seen anyone be able to attack it as well as they did tonight.
"I think their height helped them do that."
Nashoba (22-2) never really appeared to have any trouble against a trapping defense that gave Berkshire County teams fits all winter long.
"That was a concern I had," Wojcik said. "If we played a team that's fairly quick and fairly big, they're going to be able to pass over and around our traps. And I thought they were able to do that pretty well."
In fact, the size of Nashoba forwards Nikkiah Snoddy and Erin Cressman presented a tough match-up for Hoosac (19-6) all night long.
"I think we did a good job passing through their press, and our big kids helped," Nashoba coach Beth McNamara said. "And our big kids did a nice job rebounding."
In the first half, Nashoba earned a 26-12 edge on the glass. Cressman finished with a game-high 15 rebounds to go along with nine points.
Nashoba took control of the game with a 17-3 run that spanned the first and second quarters. It started with a foul shot by Nicole Boucher to make it 7-4 with 2:17 left in the first and ended with about three minutes left in the half when Boucher scored on a feed from Kelly Poole to make it 23-7.
In addition to Nashoba's defense, the Hurricanes battled their own shooting woes in the first half. Hoosac missed six shots in the post in its half-court offense and twice on lay ins in transition.
"I thought if we could have finished some of those early, it would have kept things closer," Wojcik said. "But I don't know if that would have been enough.
"It could have been us just rushing. ... We've had times where we've struggled offensively to finish, and that came back to hurt us today."
Hoosac, which lost senior forward Tori Rumbolt to injury in the Western Mass. championship game on Saturday, finished Monday night's game without another senior, Erika Lucia, who departed early in the third quarter.
"These guys keep getting hit in the face, and today we weren't able to get up from the knockout blows," Wojcik said. "I couldn't be prouder of them. We've just been real gutsy.
"We lost a senior the last game. We lost a senior tonight. They young kids just keep playing hard, and it's been a great experience for them."
Rumbolt, Lucia and Celina Stistrunk all graduate from a team that carried the Hoosac Valley banner into the state semifinals for the first time in school history. But most of the roster will return next year to try to defend the 'Canes' Western Mass. crown.
Whatever else they accomplish in the future, the Hurricanes will benefit from the example set by the Class of 2013, Wojcik said.
"Tori's leadership with these younger kids has been awesome," Wojcik said. "Erika and Celina coming off the bench have been positive role models. Sometimes it's not easy for a senior to come off the bench, but they were very positive.
"And I think it was that whole team aspect. The seniors, starting with them and everyone meshing together just made for a great season for these kids."