AMHERST, Mass. -- After battling the South Hadley Tigers to a draw for 16 minutes, the Hoosac Valley girls basketball team may have had an unfamiliar foe early in the second half of Saturday's Western Massachusetts Division 3 final: a slight touch of nerves.
"We're both very good defensive teams, and I think we both knew that offensively," Hoosac senior Fallon Field said. "Maybe we were a little scared, a little tentative, a little afraid to make mistakes.
"But once our defense got going, we got a little more confident."
Field had an assist on a basket by co-captain Kailynne Frederick and hit two jumpers from the elbow in a 14-2 Hoosac run to open a 36-26 lead that sent the Hurricanes on to a 48-37 win and their fifth straight Western Mass title.
Neither team could find the mark for more than two minutes of the third quarter, leaving the score at 22-22, where it stood after 16 minutes of play.
"I called timeout and told them, 'This is the time,' " Hoosac coach Ron Wojcik said.
Second-seeded South Hadley (22-1) actually broke the seal on the second half with a jumper by Mikhaila Edge, and after Field fed Frederick in the post to the tie game, 24-24, South Hadley took its final lead of the game, 26-24, when Sophie Gatzounas (12 points) set up teammate Marley Medina for a bucket.
Allie Mendel (nine points) hit a 3-pointer to give Hoosac the lead for good, and the Hurricanes scord the next 9 points to end the quarter -- the last three on a triple by Lexi Mercier (10 points) to make it 36-26.
Gatzounas scored twice in a 6-0 South Hadley run early in the fourth quarter to trim the lead to 38-32.
But Hoosac closed on a 10-5 run that included a basket in the post and 6-for-6 foul shooting from Field, who finished with a team-high 17 points to go along with nine rebounds.
"I was pretty confident [at the foul line]," Field said. "We've been working on them, and coach has been telling us that there are going to be games where it comes down to foul shots. Foul shots and lay-ups are going to win championships."
Frederick, who finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds, joines Field and last year's seniors in collecting four Western Mass titles over the course of their storied careers.
"It's a surreal feeling," Frederick said. "You realize that the teams that you played aren't here anymore, and you're the last one that's left.
"Being here four years in a row and winning all of them is an amazing feeling."
Hoosac Valley plays in the state semi-finals on Monday afternoon at the DCU Center in Worcester.