CHESHIRE, Mass. -- Every time the Hoosac Valley girls basketball team Saturday appeared ready to make a run at St. Mary’s, the Spartans had an answer.
Often, they delivered it long distance.
Olivia Matela hit five 3-pointers on the way to a 17-point night to lead St. Mary’s to a 62-32 win in the title game of the Hoosac Valley Holiday Tournament.
Playing a rematch of last winter’s Division 3 State Championship game, St. Mary’s locked up the Hurricanes’ offense in the first quarter, holding Hoosac to just one field goal and four points to take a 12-4 lead.
The Hurricanes (2-2) got on track in the second, scoring three times in five trips to get within three points when Sarah Field (team-high 11 points) hit a triple midway through the period.
But St. Mary’s answered with a 13-3 run to close the quarter. The last six Spartan points came on 3s.
Hoosac Valley came out of the locker room to score on two straight possessions. Field hit a triple off a kickout from Gabby Billetz and scored in a the post with a feed from Shaleigh Levesque to get the Hurricanes back within eight at 28-20.
But Yirsy Queliz and Matela connected from outside the arc on back-to-back trips to push the Spartans’ lead back to 14, and they never looked back.
“The problem is, against a team like that, and we didn’t have to do this last year in the state tournament, you can’t play from behind against a team like that,” Hoosac Valley coach Ron Wojcik said. “Because what happens, really, you’re scrambling, you’re pressing and trapping and double-teaming. And they’ve got too many shooters to leave open.
“You’ve really got to play them straight up, but when you’re down 13, 14, 18, you’ve got to take chances to get possessions.
“But they’re a great team, and you could tell how much they wanted it.”
Indeed, the Spartans celebrated a little more enthusiastically than your typical December holiday tournament “champs” after avenging last year’s loss in the state title game.
Of course, a lot has changed in Cheshire since last winter’s title run. But there was one eerie parallel late in the first quarter, when senior Riley Robinson was taken down hard driving to the basket in transition and had to leave the game.
Last year, she came back and played after getting stitches to close a cut on her head. On Saturday, the senior guard was helped off the court with an apparent injury to her right leg and did not return.
Wojcik said he was optimistic about her coming back -- if not for Monday’s home game against Monument Mountain than for Hoosac Valley’s next game on Jan. 3 at Mount Greylock.
In the meantime, he was happy with way his team responded to the captain’s departure. The Hurricanes made their best run of the game in that second quarter after Robinson left.
“I thought the kids rallied pretty well,” Wojcik said. “We kept it around at half-time, got the first few of the second half.”
Other positives for Hoosac in the loss: It was more active on the boards than it was in a loss to Taconic earlier in the week, and it cut down on its turnovers, particularly in the second half.
“We talked about that at half-time,” Wojcik said. “We haven’t really worked a lot of people at the point yet, and part of that is on me because we’ve got Riley out there running it. [St. Mary’s] has one girl who is a really, really good defender, so we talked about that at half-time, and, basically, whoever she was on, the other guard -- Averie [McGrath] or Shay [Levesque] would bring up the ball.
“I thought the kids did that well. I thought we adjusted to that.”