Hoosac Valley Press the Difference at Monument Mountain
GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. - For about 10 minutes on Thursday night, the Monument Mountain girls basketball team was doing everything it needed to do to have a chance to upset Hoosac Valley.
In the blink of an eye, the Hurricanes stormed ahead.
Kayla Aberdale set up Lily Cormier for a bucket in transition in the second minute of the second quarter to make it 15-11, in favor of the Spartans.
The next time Monument touched the ball, Madi Ryan stole it and laid it in to make it 15-13.
On the ensuing possession, Emily Rosse made the steal and put back an offensive rebound to tie the game.
Then it was Amber Lesure's turn to make the steal, setting the stage for McKenzie Robinson to feed Fallon Field for a 3-pointer to give Hoosac an 18-15 advantage.
Hoosac never relinquished that lead.
"I think were a little more aggressive, and they started getting in the passing lanes a little better, a little quicker," Monument coach Steve Soule said. "We're a young team. We made a few unforced errors at untimely times. And two points turns into six points, turns into 10 points
"And we're fairly young, and 10 points all of sudden feels like it's insurmountable, and it just sort of snowballs."
Monument (9-3) got six points from Anika Helmke and four from Sarah Sullivan in the first half as the Spartans established their post presence in the half court.
The Hurricanes' best answer was Hoosac's specialty: Don't let the opponent get into its half-court offense.
"We talk about it all the time with the girls," Hoosac coach Ron Wojcik said. "We're not intimidating. We walk out there, and we have Rosse and [Kailynne Frederick] who are both 5-10, maybe. And a team like this with 6-footers -- we cannot afford to be in a half-court game.
"We try to neutralize that with the pressure and running. We don't try to match up. We don't really work on a half-court defense where we're doubling down. It's just our pressure and running, and hopefully the legs aren't there for some of those big girls down the stretch."
After Hoosac grabbed the lead with that 7-0 spurt in the second, Sullivan responded by drawing a foul in the post and sinking two shots to get Monument within one, and Helmke scored on back-to-back possessions to keep it a one-score game.
But a Field steal and lay-in pushed the lead back to five, and Robinson's steal led to a Field bucket to make it 28-21 with a couple of minutes left in the half.
The teams traded baskets from there to give Hoosac a 30-25 edge going into half-time.
The Canes put the game away in the third, ripping off nine straight points at one point to push their lead to 41-27 and finishing the quarter with a 49-34 lead.
Again, Hoosac's pressure defense was the key. And the key to that, Wojcik said, is the Canes' commitment to building their stamina.
"I think Rosse said one day, 'We run, and then Coach has us press, and if he doesn't like the press, we run,' " Wojcik said. "It is conditioning.
"It's really, really hard. One of our assistants, Meg Vaughn will run with the girls and against the girls in the press. And it's physically demanding to do that. You have to be in good shape.
"As much as kids say they want to run and play transition and run and press, they don't always want to. But these girls have been pretty good about it. They've bought into it."
And that commitment to the press is particularly helpful when the Hurricanes run into an opponent like Monument.
"The Sullivan girl and Helmke, they're for real," Wojcik said. "They're going to be around for a long time, and I thought Rosse did a good job tonight."
Rosse grabbed nine rebounds and matched Ryan with a game-high 18 points. Field had four steals and three assists to go along with 14 points.
Hoosac (12-1) travels to Drury on Monday night.
Monument hosts Wahconah on Saturday afternoon.