Hoosac Valley Girls Fall in Overtime
CHESHIRE, Mass. -- The Whitman-Hanson girls basketball team Friday rallied from a 17-point second-half deficit to earn a 51-46, overtime win over Hoosac Valley in the first round of the Hoosac Valley Holiday Tournament.
The Panthers beat the Hurricanes at their own game at the start of the fourth quarter, forcing turnovers on the press on three straight possessions to key an 11-0 run that got the visitors within one point, 34-33, after an Olivia Martin 3-pointer with 5 minutes, 40 seconds remaining.
Martin and Kathryn Dunn finished tied with a team-high 14 points for Whitman-Hanson, which moves on to Saturday’s tourney final against Greenfield, a winner over South Hadley on Friday night.
Hoosac Valley coach Ron Wojcik said his squad was prepared for the Panthers’ press but not for Whitman-Hanson’s gameplan.
“It’s interesting,” Wojcik said. “We worked on it the last couple of days, and I thought we’d be fine against it. They usually start the game off that way, and they didn’t. I think that kind of threw us off from the standpoint that we expected them to come out and press.
“Later on, when they did press, we didn’t run the stuff that we had worked on. … We thought we could run against the press and maybe get some easy layups, and none of that happened. Give [Whitman-Hanson] credit. They did what they needed to do. It’s a learning experience for us.
“We need to execute better and be a better team down the stretch.”
The Hurricanes were great in the second quarter, outscoring the visitors, 15-5 to take a 24-15 lead into half-time.
Alie Mendel (game-high 17) knocked down a 3-pointer to spark an 11-0 run that ended with a Shaleigh Levesque free throw to make it 22-13.
The Hurricanes (4-1) then opened the second half with a 10-2 run to push their lead to 34-17 when Mendel drove the lane for a bucket.
From then on, the Panthers took control, starting with a Dunn 3-pointer that helped close the gap to 12 points going to the fourth.
“The 3-pointers were crucial down the stretch,” Whitman-Hanson coach Jenna Olem said. “We finally got into a little bit of a rhythm with our shooters, Liv Martin and Reese Cordero, and they stepped up when we needed them the most.”
Martin hit four 3s in the fourth quarter and OT. Cordero scored her only points of the game on a pair of triples in the last 12 minutes.
It was a long two-pointer from the right wing corner by Brittany Gacicia (10 points) that tied the game, 35-35, midway through the fourth.
Hoosac Valley answered with a pair of free throws from Riley Robinson, and the teams traded scores the rest of regulation.
Lexi Mercier (16 points) gave the Hurricanes their last lead of the game with a 3 off a feed from Robinson in the final minute to make it 42-39.
But Dunn hit a triple with 10 seconds left, and the Hurricanes, after a timeout with 6.5 on the clock, could not get a good look at the basket at the buzzer.
Martin started overtime with a 3-pointer from the right side -- the first of three triples that accounted for all the Panthers’ scoring in OT.
Mercier had a triple for Hoosac to make it 48-46 with 2:32 left in the extra session, but that was the final score the Hurricanes could muster.
Hoosac was held to just 12 points in the final 12 minutes -- the third quarter plus OT.
“On the offensive end, we just fell apart offensively,” Wojcik. I just thought we didn’t execute like we should. We didn’t run some of the things we needed to do. I thought we panicked, and that costs you.”
The Hurricanes take on South Hadley on Saturday at 4:30 in the tournament’s consolation game. Whitman-Hanson goes up against Reagan Hickey, Samantha Smith and the 5-0 Green Wave in the nightcap.
“They seem like a pretty solid team,” Olem said. “They’ve got that big girl who is really good and a couple of good guards. So obviously the gameplan will be a little different.
“We’re excited to take down a pretty big powerhouse [Hoosac Valley]. That was really nice for us.”