Drury Boys Heading Back to the Cage
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — On Jan. 23, the Drury boys basketball team beat long-time rival Hoosac Valley on the road for the first time since their 2011-12 season; three weeks later on Feb. 13, the Blue Devils lost on their home court leaving the rivalry at a split for the regular season.
Next week, the two teams will go head to head at the Curry Hicks Cage at the University of Massachusetts in the semi-finals of the Division 3 Western Massachusetts tournament.
For Drury senior Justin Girard, the 63-61 quarter-final win Thursday evening against No. 6 Renaissance means a bit more in his final season in a Blue Devils jersey as his past two seasons they have come up short of qualifying for the tournament.
"It was huge, they're a very athletic team," Girard said. "It's the first time getting to the Cage for me, it's huge for all the seniors; we haven't made it since freshman year.”
"It's a great feeling and just to get redemption on Hoosac, hopefully.”
For the No. 3 Blue Devils, finishing from the foul line down the stretch is something they will need to focus on in the coming week before facing No. 2 Hoosac Valley. They were 16 for 25 from the free throw line on Thursday; six of the misses were in the final quarter as Renaissance got back in it.
With two minutes remaining in the game, Renaissance — who trailed at half-time, 32-18 — brought Drury's lead within five points (57-52). Both teams were in the bonus and Renaissance began to foul to slow down the clock, sending the Blue Devils to the line.
"We talked about it at practice, you've got to make foul shots down the stretch," Drury coach Jack Racette said. "We made a bunch and then all of a sudden [Hayden] Bird missed one and then we missed our last five.”
"Bird missed one, [Nick] Trombley missed two, and [Kareen] Beckett missed two; you make those and it really keeps that comfort zone and you know, Renaissance played until the end.”
With six seconds to go, Bird fouled out, sending Renaissance to the line, where they missed both shots leaving the score at 63-61; a Drury turnover on the inbounds pass gave Renaissance the ball back with 5.5 on the clock. Beckett was able to get a quick steal for the Blue Devils and was sent to the line, where he missed both shots.
With three seconds to go Renaissance inbounded the ball and sent up a Hail Mary in hopes to get the buzzer beater win, but fortunately for the Blue Devils the shot hit the back of the rim and bounced out, earning them the win and a trip to the Cage.
"When they shot that shot I thought there was no way, but I was in shock that it was that close," Girard said.
Drury has a few days to prepare for their third outing with the Hurricanes and for the senior class, their first trip to the Curry Hicks Cage.
"Their sophomore year they were 9-11, just missed the tournament and their junior year they really took some beatings, we were 5-15," Racette said. "We stuck together and they worked on their game in the offseason and it paid off; tonight was a perfect example and I'm glad for them because I don't want it to end for those guys I think they deserve it.”
The winner of Drury and Hoosac will play in the finals on Saturday March 7 against the winner of the semi-final between No. 4 Wahconah and No.1 Hampshire.
"You can't ask for a better situation for Berkshire County," Racette said. "Wahconah won, Hoosac won, we won; we represent pretty well down there and we'll have a team in the finals and may the best team win, it's going to be fun that's for sure.”
For Drury, Girard finished with 13 points, Trombley had 10, and senior Cam Lesure had a team high of 21.