Wahconah Girls Hold on to Edge Pittsfield
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- With 19 seconds left on the clock Monday at Pittsfield High, all the Wahconah girls basketball team had to do in order to win was inbound the ball.
Five times, Wahconah did what it had to do to earn a 42-40 win over the Generals and earn its fifth straight win.
Wahconah (11-2) took the final lead of a back-and-forth game with 1 minute, 10 seconds left when Julia O’Connor scored from the high post to make it 42-40.
The teams then traded turnovers, the last going to Wahconah with 19 seconds left.
Pittsfield had just one foul in the half at that point and successfully fouled Wahconah on five straight inbounds plays before finally, with one second on the clock, O’Connor got the ball to Noelle Furlong, who dribbled out the clock.
“We work that,” Wahconah coach Liz Kay said. “We do situations every day.
“That’s certainly one of the things that, in the past, where if you’re behind schedule with what you have on your [schedule] in practice, the first thing to go away is situations. So it’s been an emphasis, internally for me, to make sure we are doing those. And it helps that we are when those situations come up.
“We’ve had a couple of them this year, so it’s nice to execute them. Especially on the road in a tough place to play for us.”
Wahconah won its third one-possession game during its current winning streak. It beat Monument Mountain, 46-44 in Great Barrington to start the run, which included a 45-44 win over Mahar.
Maria Gamberoni led a balanced Wahconah attack with nine points and four assists. Abbie Steinman scored eight, and O’Connor had seven points, five rebounds and three assists.
The key, Kay said, was holding Pittsfield (9-4) to fewer than 49 points for just the second time this winter and the first time since a season-opening loss to Northampton back in December.
“I think the defense is what won us the game,” Kay said. “They’re so athletic. They’re physical. I think their length really bothered us on offense. We had some unforced turnovers.
“We really feed off our defense. If we make those mistakes, we hope we can make it up on the other end -- just dig in and hold on.”
Wahconah made its first big defensive stand midway through the second quarter when it forced turnovers on four straight Pittsfield possessions and six of eight Pittsfield trips during a 6-0 Wahconah run. Gamberoni started the run by scoring in transition off a Kelly McMahon steal. Suzy Stefanik ended the run by driving the left wing and finishing to make it 20-15, Wahconah.
Wahconah was up by seven, 28-21 early in the third quarter before Pittsfield went on a 7-0 run to end the quarter.
Jordyn Lummus (11 points) started things off with a 3-pointer with an assist from Taea Bramer. Then, after Pittsfield got the ball back with its press, Bella Aitken (game-high 15 points) set up Lummus for a basket. Kendra Castagna finished the run with a bucket in the post to send it the game to the fourth quarter tied, 28-28.
Wahconah scored the first five points of the fourth on buckets by Furlong and Gamberoni, but Pittsfield answered with a 7-0 run to take a 35-33 lead on an Aitken 3-pointer.
From there, neither side led by more than two.
Pittsfield took its last lead when Aitken hit her second 3 of the quarter to make it 40-38. Wahconah came back to tie it when O’Connor fed Cassie Tobler in the post with just more than three minutes left.
Neither side allowed a point for the next two minutes before O’Connor hit the game-winner.
“It was a good game right along,” Pittsfield coach Joe Racicot said. “Both teams made a lot of turnovers. Everybody had their chances.
“They ended up hitting the last basket. And I kind of had a feeling all along that was how it was going to finish, one way or the other.”
Wahconah hosts Hoosac Valley on Thursday in a rematch of its seven-point loss in Cheshire earlier in the month. Pittsfield goes to Monument Mountain on Thursday.
Pittsfield and Wahconah will meet again on Feb. 15 in Dalton.