CHESHIRE, Mass. — There will be a new Western Massachusetts Division 3 champion as No. 6 seeded Wahconah Thursday took down five-time defending champion Hoosac Valley, 42-33.
It was a group effort on the offensive side for Wahconah as Maria Gamberoni led the way with 12 points.
Noelle Furlong chipped in with nine points, and Abbie Steinman had eight.
For Hoosac Valley (19-3), Lexi Mercier scored a majority of the points with 17, while Riley Robinson added six.
If you came out to see these two teams play during the regular season you weren’t shocked at the scoreline. The two previous games were hard fought and physical, and Thursday was no different.
Hoosac got off to the faster start of the two teams, going up 8-2 early in the first quarter, but Wahconah (18-3) finished the quarter on a strong note, going on an 8-0 run to take the 10-8 lead after one quarter of play. Both teams brought pressure and really made each other work for every point. The second quarter was more of the same as both teams continued to feel each other out defensively.
Wahconah was able to take the 18-17 lead into the break. It held Hoosac to just two 3-pointers made in the half, denying the Hurricanes in an area where they usually thrive.
Some thought going into the tournament that Wahconah may have been under-seeded with a 17-3 record, setting up this matchup in the quarter-finals, but Wahconah was not focused on that and kept their eyes on the prize.
“When we got the seeding, I was nervous how the kids would react,” Wahconah coach Liz Kay Said. “Most teams would have said, ‘Oh no, we have to get out of the first round and go play Hoosac.’ These girls weren’t nervous, they wanted to go to Hoosac, and I knew right then.”
Hoosac Valley came out of for the second half strong going on a 5-0 run, keeping Wahconah scoreless for the first four minutes of the half. A couple big shots from Lexi Mercier helped Hoosac regain the lead late midway through the fourth quarter, but some timely hoops from Kelly McMahon and Noelle Furlong helped keep the Hurricanes from taking over the game.
With one minute left in the quarter and a one-point lead for Wahconah, freshman Gamberoni knocked down a shot with the shot clock expiring to give them a three-point lead and what would later prove to be the dagger that would end Hoosac’s tournament hopes.
Wahconah won the second meeting of the season between these two teams and carried that momentum into this game.
“We both have been running the same kind of system for a couple years, there is nothing new,” Kay said. “We analyzed game tape and made some really really small adjustments because these kids already knew what to do and they just had to execute.”
Wahconah will now go on to play South Hadley the No. 2 seed in the tournament at the Curry Hicks Cage on Wednesday.