The Hunt for Red March: Hoosac Valley Girls, Boys Go for State Titles Saturday

By Stephen Sports
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For a school with an enrollment of just 192 in grades 9 through 12, Hoosac Valley High School is having an outsized impact on the high school basketball world this winter.
On Saturday afternoon at Lowell’s Tsongas Center, the Hurricanes will take aim at Division 5 State Championships in girls and boys basketball.
At noon, the No. 1 ranked Hoosac Valley girls (22-3) will face No. 2 West Boylston (22-3).
Immediately following, the Hurricanes’ boys team (22-2), also seeded first in the state, play No. 2 Boston’s New Mission (18-6).
Of the 83 boys and 82 girls teams that compete in Division 5 across the commonwealth, just four teams remain. And half of them come from the Adams-Cheshire district.
The state tournament final is familiar terrain for the Hurricane girls, who played in the championship game as recently as 2022 and won it all in 2019 (Hoosac Valley also advanced to the 2020 state final and was named co-champion when the title game was canceled).
But coach Jon Frederick’s squad will face an unfamiliar foe on Saturday.
“I haven’t really seen West Boylston,” Frederick said after Hoosac Valley’s state semi-final win on Tuesday in West Springfield. “I watched the end of the [semi-final] game against Palmer yesterday, which was crazy. That’s about all I’ve seen.
“So now I’ve got to hit the books and figure out what’s going on.”
What Frederick saw was a Lions team that overcame a 24-point performance from Western Mass star Charlotte Theriault to upend the Panthers in overtime.
West Boylston was led in the final by senior Sammie Mullins, who hit four 3-pointers and scored 18 points, and eighth-grader Alicia Stone, who scored 16.
Senior Madison Pitro scored five of her 13 points in overtime, and another eighth-grader, Hannah Kursonis, put back an offensive rebound at the buzzer to give West Boylston a 58-57 win.
Hoosac Valley answers with a squad that gets most of its offense from the trio of Ashlyn Lesure (14 points per game), Taylor Garabedian (13 ppg) and Emma Meczywor (11 ppg).
The Canes’ two losses this winter came back to back way back in January, when they lost at South Hadley and at Wahconah in a three-day span.
Hoosac Valley had season splits with both squads, including South Hadley, which on Sunday plays for a Division 4 State Championship against Cathedral.
Most of West Boylston’s games this year have been by double-digit margins, but the Lions have been in some battles, beating Division 4 Sutton, 49-47, and falling to D2 Doherty, 61-58. West Boylston’s other two losses have come against D4 Ayer-Shirley (51-41) and Littleton (63-53), a quarter-finalist in Division 4 this winter.
Also unfamiliar to local high school sports fans is the New Mission boys team from Boston’s Hyd Park neighborhood. The Titans are making their first appearance in the state final since 2016, when they edged Concord-Carlisle for a Division 2 crown.
On Wednesday night, New Mission used a stifling man-to-man defense to knock off Pioneer Valley, 60-49.
The teams were tied, 47-47, midway through the fourth quarter before the Titans put on a titanic run, getting a pair of dunks from Jamari Toney-Simmons (12 points) and another from Solis Blue (11 points) to punctuate the victory in the closing seconds.
Joseph Jackson led New Mission with 17 points in the win.
New Mission started the state tournament with six losses, but two of those losses came to Burke, which beat Monument Mountain, 90-60, in the D4 quarter-finals, and two came against Charlestown, which knocked off Taconic on Wednesday in the D3 semis.
Hoosac Valley’s boys last lost at Monument, 74-59, back on Jan. 25.
The Hurricanes are led by seniors Joey McGovern and Frank Field, who average 17.6 and 17.5 ppg, respective. But eighth-grader Trevor Moynihan is moving up on the team’s scoring chart with 10.5 ppg, and sophomore Qwanell Bradley is averaging 9.9 ppg.
Like its girls team, Hoosac Valley’s boys are looking to add a state title banner to the Western Mass title it won last month – and do both as the No. 1 seeds in their respective tournaments.
“I talked about [the pressure of being the top seed,” boys coach Bill Robinson said this week. “We threw it at them. The metrics say we’re ‘this,’ and whether I believe it or not, doesn’t matter. The metrics say we are.
“So we’ve gotta go out and prove it now. And you have a big target on your back. You’ve got to play with it. And you’ve got to learn to play with it. I think we’ve grown up a little bit down the stretch. We were a mess in December and early January. We were a mess. I won’t get into it, but we’ve come a long way maturity wise.”
Notes: It is the 11th straight March that at least one Berkshire County team has made it to the state title game. Last winter, the Taconic boys won and Wahconah girls lost in their championship games. In 2022, the Hoosac Valley girls lost. In 2021, there was no state tournament. In 2020, the Hoosac Valley girls and Taconic boys and girls all reached the title games that were canceled and declared co-champions in their respective divisions. In 2019, the Hoosac Valley girls won a D3 title. In 2018, the Taconic boys reached the D2 state final. In 2017, the Taconic boys and Hoosac Valley girls both played in state finals. And Hoosac Valley’s girls played in finals in 2016, 2015 and 2014. In 2013, Lee’s girls played for a Division 3 title.
♦ The last school to win both a boys and girls basketball title in the same season was St. Mary’s of Lynn in Division 3 in 2022.
♦ Although with 192 students in grades 9 to 12, Hoosac Valley is by no means the smallest school in Division 5 (that honor belongs to tiny Martha’s Vineyard Charter with 27 students), most of the schools in the state’s smallest division have student populations in the 200s and up. Girls state finalist West Boylston has 250 students. New Mission, the boys finalist, has 280.
♦ The Hoosac Valley boys and girls are the last teams standing from a bumper crop of quality Berkshire County cagers this winter. As noted last week on Sports’ Facebook page, there are 455 teams in the three divisions (boys and girls) in which the county’s schools compete, Divisions 3, 4 and 5. Of those, 48 (10.5 percent) reach the state quarterfinals in their respective brackets. Of the county’s 22 boys and girls basketball teams, seven made it to the quarters (32 percent) this winter. By round in the girls and boys state tournaments (not counting the play-in round), Berkshire County’s records this winter were: 9-5, first round; 7-2, second round; 4-3, quarter-finals; 2-2, semi-finals.
♦ The top high school basketball players from around the county (not including the Hoosac Valley players, who will be resting up for Saturday) will meet at Pittsfield’s Boys and Girls Club on Friday evening for the annual county all-star games, hosted by the county’s basketball officials, at 6 p.m.
♦ The state tournament finals get underway Friday night with the Division 2 boys and D1 girls title games starting at 6 p.m. Saturday’s Hoosac Valley-West Boylston girls game tips off a four-game set that includes the D3 boys and D3 girls at about 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively. And four more games are scheduled for Sunday starting at noon: the D4 girls and boys, followed by the D2 girls and D1 boys.
♦ The Hurricanes will be gunning for the county’s fourth and fifth team state titles in this academic year. The Mount Greylock volleyball team won the crown in the fall. Earlier this winter, the Mount Greylock girls Nordic ski team and Lee High bowling team each won a state title.
♦ Tickets for each session are $16 plus processing fees and are available online at the Tsongas Center website. On Thursday morning, the box office in Lowell could not confirm the price of parking at the arena on Saturday but said it would be, “in the $10 to $15 range.”
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