Hurricane Madi Ryan scored 16 points to lead Hoosac to a 63-57 win over Bellingham on Wednesday, sending Hoosac to the state final.
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Much like last year's Division 3 state semi-final game between the Hoosac Valley girls basketball team and Bellingham, the Hurricanes on Wednesday held as much as a 16-point lead in the third quarter, but the Blackhawks came back in the fourth and brought it within 2 points.
The difference between last year and this year is the time remaining on the clock when the Blackhawks went on their run.
The similarity: Hoosac Valley once again held on for the win and a berth in the state championship game.
Last season, with 1 minute, 30 seconds to go Bellingham was down two points, and that is where the margin stayed. On Wednesday, the Blackhawks brought it within two (48-46) with 5:48 to go, giving Hoosac plenty of time to adjust, put up more points, and seal a 63-57 win.
"I wasn't nervous at all," Hoosac senior McKenzie Robinson (13 points) said. "Coach always says stay the course to play our game and I knew that my team wouldn't give up.
"We gave it our all, we played with our heart, and we did that the whole game."
The Hurricanes opened the third quarter on an 8-0 run after leading by only four points at half-time (33-29). Seniors Emily Rosse (14 points) and Amber Lesure (six points) opened with back to back 3-pointers putting them ahead 10 points.
With 3:29 to go in the third, Bellingham had only put up one point in the half and was forced to call a timeout as the Hurricanes extended their lead to 16 (46-30).
That time-out was a turning point for Bellingham as it closed the quarter on a 12-2 run, trailing by only six points going into the final eight minutes (48-42).
"What we talk about with this group is stay the course, we press and trap," Hoosac coach Ron Wojcik said. "There's going to be times that teams make runs on us because we're taking some gambles; we're leaving some shooters open and what happens is if we feel that we can stay it, we'll eventually overcome that and then get the ball back."
The Hoosac girls earn an A-plus in Wojcik's course as they overcame Bellingham's run right at the start of the fourth quarter.
The Blackhawks put up the first point with three minutes gone in the quarter, which brought them within that two-point mark. But on the next possession Rosse scored and Robinson got a steal on the inbounded pass finding herself open from 3-point range where she sank it to extend their lead to 53-46.
"Emily made a big shot, Kenz got a steal and hit a big 3 and the next thing you know it was right back up again," Wojick said. "We just talk about staying the course."
With 37 seconds to go, junior Meghan Cook hit a 3-pointer for the Blackhawks to put them within four points (61-57). They rebounded the ball after sending Rosse to the line where she missed two, but a turnover put the ball back in Hoosac's hands and Bellingham were forced to foul in the final 22 seconds, where Robinson and Fallon Field each hit one sealing the 63-57 victory.
Junior Madi Ryan finished with a team-high 16 points for Hoosac, hitting some key shots in the Hurricanes run in the third quarter.
"Madi steps up, she seems to shoot well on the big floors," Wojick said. "A lot of times the focus will be on Rosse or Fallon on the wing and a lot of times Madi gets those looks up top and she did a good job nailing those today as well as a couple of nice drives."
Hoosac (22-2) will take on Archbishop Williams (20-7) Saturday morning at 10:45 at the DCU Center in Worcester for the State Final.
"It feels great," Wojick said about taking his team back to the finals. "These girls just give you a thrill a minute; it's been a fun ride and I couldn't be prouder of them and certainly we'll give it our best shot on Saturday."