Hoosac Valley Tops Drury, Earns Tourney Berth
CHESHIRE, Mass. -- There was a lot going for the Hoosac Valley High School boys basketball team basketball team on Friday night.
It was Senior Night.
The Hurricanes were looking to snap a three-game losing streak.
They needed one more win with three games left in the season to qualify for the Western Massachusetts touranment for the first time in three years.
Oh, and Drury was in town.
Instead of getting weighed down by the emotion of the moment, the ‘Canes rallied, overcoing a 10-point second quarter deficit en route to a 59-54 win.
Carson Meczywor scored 18 points, Izaha Stubbs scored 17, and Shaun Kastner had 11 points and 13 rebounds to give Hoosac Valley its first win over its arch-rival since January 2016 -- a season that ended in a one-point loss in the state semi-finals for the Hurricanes.
“You keep hitting that wall, you keep hitting that wall and eventually you’re going to break through that wall,” said Stubbs, a senior playing his final game against the Blue Devils. “Once that buzzer went off, it felt good to finally beat them.”
Stubbs said that he had to set aside the emotion of the pregame photos with his family and get down to business once the game got going.
“It was a lot,” he said. “It was a lot to go through, my Senior Night. I just blocked all the ceremony stuff out. An once it came to that jump ball, it was game time and time to focus on getting that win and getting into the tournament.”
Ben Raimer, who took over as Hoosac Valley’s interim coach midseason, was not afraid to use the drought against Drury as motivation going into Friday’s game.
“We talked about that in pregame,” Raimer said. “I said, there’s no way you guys want to leave Hoosac Valley having not beaten Drury. And there was a chance coming into this game. We have a couple of kids -- Izaha has been playing since he was a freshman on varsity, and we have a couple of kids playing since sophmore or junior year.
“I can’t imagine graduating from Hoosac Valley, playing varsity ball and not having beaten Drury High School. I’m glad those guys were able to deliver on that tonight. They stepped up, the character was there, five leaders on the floor every time we were out there. Very pleased by that.”
No one in Hoosac Valley red was pleased in the early going.
Drury emerged from a sluggish first quarter with an 11-5 lead after Scott McGuire Jr. (game-high 21) scored on a backdoor cut with a feed from Hunter Sarkis for McGuire’s eighth point of the quarter.
Drury then scored the first four points of the second quarter to go ahead by 10 when Louis Guilotte put back an offensive rebound.
But the Hurricanes woke up on offense, overcoming the turnovers that plagued them in the first quarter to score on three of their next five possessions and get within six.
“We started out a little slow, couldn’t make a few of our shots,” Meczywor said. “Once a few of them got down, we got some confidence and then started rolling, I guess.
“Going into the half down two was really good. We gained a lot of confidence from that, and it kind of brought us into the second half and we got rolling.”
Meczywor scored five points in an 8-2 Hoosac Valley run to close the half. He started things by converting an assist from Kastner to make it 19-13. Th next time down, Cole Desroches (11 points) drained a 3-pointer from the left side to make it a three-point game.
Dante Woodson got two back with an assist from Sarkis. But Meczywor scored from behind the arc on Hoosac’s last possession of the half to cut the margin to two at 21-19.
Drury took what turned out to be its last lead of the night when Tim Brazeau (11 points) scored in the post to make ti 25-24 early in the third quarter.
Meczywor answered that with a conventional three-point play, McGuire connected from the top of the key to tie it at 27-27. But Desroches came right back with a triple to give Hoosac Valley another three-point lead.
The Hurricanes closed the third on a 13-4 run to take a nine-point advantage to the fourth.
Drury responded with an 8-0 run of its own to tie the game one last time midway through the fourth when McGuire converted both ends of a one-and-one to make it 42-42 with 4 minutes, 5 seconds remaining.
The Hurricanes answered that with a 9-0 run to lead 51-42 with 2:28 remaining. Senior Zach Swistak scored his only points of the game with an assist form Meczywor to cap the run.
From there, the teams went blow-for-blow down the stretch in the game’s highest scoring quarter. A contest that started with 16 combined points in the first quarter ended with the teams combining for 42 in the fourth.
Drury chipped away, getting big offensive rebounds from Guilotte an McGuire and a McGuire triple with 20 seconds left to make it a two-point game at 56-54.
But Meczywor earned a trip to the line with 14.6 seconds left and hit a pair. Stubbs got a rebound at the other end with six seconds left, and he ended up at the foul line with 3.5 seconds on the clock with a chance to ice it. He made his second, Drury didn’t get a good look at the basket, and the buzzer sounded, touching off a frenzied celebration for the Hoosac Valley faithful.
The win was the first for Raimer since he took the helm of the program, but he was quick to shift the emphasis to his players.
“Excitement, primarly for the guys,” he said. “They’ve been busting their tails. We’ve been switching up a lot of things. We installed a new offense. We primarily played 1-3-1 zone most of the season. The last couple of weeks, we said, ‘Listen, if we want to be able to beat these teams in the tourney, down the stretch, we’ve got to put in man-to-man-defense, show what we can do.’
“We’ve got great assistants: Coach Larabee, Coach Alibozek, Coach Robinson has been helping out. And that’s really allowed us to push over the edge. Our practices have been long. They’ve been hard. … And the guys have really been working their tails off. Very rewarding for them.
“I hope they get to breath a little sigh of relief.”
Hoosac Valley (10-8, 2-4 Berkshire County North Division) closes the season next week with rematches against Wahconah and Taconic.
Drury (11-7, 3-4) hosts Frontier on Monday before finishing the regular season against Pittsfield on Wednesday.