Mendel, Mercier Lead Hoosac Valley in Bounceback Win
CHESHIRE, Mass. -- It took the Hoosac Valley girls basketball team less than 24 hours to put its first loss of the season in the rear view mirror.
Alie Mendel scored 28 points to earn all-tournament honors as the Hurricanes defeated South Hadley, 69-40, in the consolation game of the Hoosac Valley Holiday Tournament on Saturday afternoon.
Hoosac Valley (5-1) hoped to be playing in Saturday’s nightcap, but an overtime loss to Division 1 Whitman-Hanson on Friday night meant a date in the matinee.
“We were obviously upset about [the loss],” Mendel said. “A win against a D1 team would have been great. But I think it motivated us to work twice as hard today.”
Hoosac Valley coach Ron Wojcik was happy with the adjustments his team made from Friday to Saturday.
“We met early today and talked about last night and what we needed to do better,” he said. “I didn’t think we ran enough last night, getting up and down the court. And I thought, defensively, we weren’t as intense as we needed to be.
“I thought we did a much better job with both those things today.”
The Hurricanes took control of the game with a 23-0 run that spanned the first and second quarters.
Lexi Mercier got things started when she knocked down one of her six first-half 3-pointers to make it 21-15.
Annabelle Canales hit a triple to stretch the lead to nine points at the end of the first.
Mendel’s putback of an offensive rebound on Hoosac’s first possession of the second quarter started a run that saw the ‘Canes score on seven of eight trips up the floor, the last a Shaleigh Levesque bucket in transition to make it 41-15.
Mercier had three 3s in the decisive run and scored all 20 of her points before half-time. Several of her triples came from NBA range, demonstrating just how far the senior sharp-shooter can stretch a defense.
“We talk about: We love layups, we like 3s,” Wojcik said. “People think we love 3s, but I’d rather be getting layups first. The perimeter game does open up the whole paint because the defense has to spread out, and it gives us opportunities for people like Alie [Mendel] or Riley [Robinson] or even some of the younger players to drive to the basket.”
Speaking of younger players, they got plenty of time to take the lead in the second half on Saturday after Levesque (six points) score on a feed from Mercier to make it 56-25 early in the third quarter.
After seeing his starters open the second half with a 7-0 spurt, Wojcik let his reserves take over most of the reset of the way.
“We’re trying to get kids a lot of minutes,” he said. “We want our young kids to be ready for the end of the season. If you get a big lead early, it gives you more flexibility with that, for sure. And I think the young kids are more comfortable in that situation, knowing that they have a lead to work with.
“That was huge. Lexi and Alie really got us going today. They both shot the ball really well.”