PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- With eight minutes left on Wednesday night, it looked like the Pittsfield girls basketball team was poised to do something no Berkshire County team had done since 2013: win two regular season games against Hoosac Valley.
But the Hurricanes went on a 15-0 run to open the fourth quarter, erasing an 11-point deficit and sending Hoosac Valley on to a 45-40 win and a share of the Berkshire County North Division title.
Seniors Alie Mendel and Lexi Mercier scored 15 and 14 points, respectively, and freshman Averie McGrath scored eight in the fourth-quarter comeback as the Hurricanes avenged last week’s 67-56 loss to the Generals.
“The kids showed a lot of heart -- a lot of heart and guts to come back and win a game like that when, really, that was a game we didn’t have any business winning based on howe we played,” Hoosac Valley coach Ron Wojcik said. “It says a lot to me about these kids and their heart.
“I told them: That kind of no-quit effort is what you need in the tournament going forward.”
Pittsfield (10-8) had all the momentum after outscoring the Hurricanes, 23-8, in the third quarter, a period that saw Lexi Garvey score 13 of her game-high 21 points.
Emery Sime hit a jumper from the right wing to give Pittsfield its biggest lead of the game, 38-26, before Mendel hit a foul shot with 10.6 seconds left to make it an 11-point margin at the break.
Mendel then started the winning run with a 3-pointer and quickly scored two more after Hoosac Valley got the ball back with its full-court press.
“We had a mental breakdown,” Pittsfield coach Joe Racicot said of the fourth quarter. “They were triple-teaming the ball, and we couldn’t find the open man. That happens from time to time. … And down the stretch, they hit those 3-point baskets, and we couldn’t recover from it.”
Mendel registered a block at one end of the floor and hit a triple at the other to make it 38-35. And after a Riley Robinson steal at midcourt, McGrath hit a 3-pointer to tie the game.
The next time down the floor, McGrath drove the lane to give Hoosac Valley its first lead since early in the third quarter.
Her classmate, Kaylee Winn, capped the run with a basket off another turnover out of the press.
“Our whole freshman class is strong,” Wojcik said. “Averie stepped up tonight. I think Kaylee made a couple of big defensive plays. They stepped up big for us, and to have freshmen step up in a game like this is huge.
“That experience is only going to help you going forward.”
Jordyn Lummus snapped the run when she drove the lane for a score to make it 42-40 with about three minutes left. But the only other points the rest of the way came on a McGrath 3-pointer.
While the teams traded big offensive quarters in the second half, neither could get much going in a first half that saw Hoosac Valley emerge with a 19-15 lead.
The Generals led, 15-11, late in the second quarter, before Mendel hit a 3-pointer and converted both ends of a one-and-one to give Hoosac Valley the lead. Mercier knocked down a triple at the buzzer for the Hurricanes’ third 3 of the first half.
“We couldn’t throw it in the ocean if we were standing in it tonight,” Wojcik said. “Whether it was free throws or shots or lay-ups. I think one of our stats at half-time was 5-for-40-something.”
Garvey took over the game in the third with the 13 points -- a number on putbacks as she worked her way toward a double-double (21 points, 25 boards). Just like last week, the 6-foot senior created matchup problems for the smaller Hurricanes.
“I thought Sarah [Field] did a really good job,” Wojcik said. “She was physical with her. We banged her in the first half. But Garvey is just a really tough player. She can score in a lot of ways, gets a ton of rebounds.
“We scraped and scrapped -- just like when we played Medfield in the Coaches vs. Cancer. I looked online and did some scouting, and we’re going see size like that down in Foxborough this weekend. For us, it’s good for us to experience it and work on it. Now, going forward, we can just get better going into the tourney.”
First, Hoosac Valley has a North-South crossover game on Saturday in Cheshire against Drury followed by that trip to the South Shore.
And it goes into those last three regular season games as the Berkshire County North Division co-champion -- at least. If Wahconah beats Pittsfield on Thursday night, it will earn a share of the league title after a regular-season split with the ‘Canes.
“Two out of the last seven years, we’ve been tied, I think, and the other five we won it outright, so that was really big for us,” Wojcik said of winning the league. “The kids wanted to do that, especially the seniors. If Pittsfield can get Wahconah tomorrow night, that would be great, but if not, at least we know we have a tie for it.”