Family Ties Bind Hoosac Hoop Teams
Tuesday's Western Massachusetts Division 3 boys semi-final between Hoosac Valley and Renaissance had everyone at Curry Hicks Cage on the edges of their seats.
No one was more on edge than Lorraine Robinson.
And after 32 minutes of nail-biting and a few minutes of euphoria, she was right back in her customary seat behind the Hoosac bench for the girls semi-final.
She was hardly the only fan who came for both teams, but it is fair to say she had a stronger connection to both teams than most.
Lorraine is the mother of Hoosac Valley boys coach Bill Robinson and the grandmother of girls starting guard McKenzie Robinson.
"It was nerve-wracking to say the least," Lorraine Robinson said this week. "I can be calm, cool and collected, but not when it comes to basketball.
"I've been a wreck all week."
Family ties are not uncommon on the hardwood for Hoosac Valley, which sends both its basketball teams back to the Cage on Saturday for Western Mass championship games. Sean Ryan-Kut is a starter for the boys team while his cousin, Madi Ryan, starts for the girls.
And it is not the first time that Lorraine Robinson has sweated out boys and girls games in the same season. McKenzie's older sister Samantha also started for the Hurricanes while her dad coached the boys.
But it never gets any easier.
Lorraine is a passionate and knowledgeable fan who can talk hoops and rattle off specific details of games gone by. When it comes to watching her son coach or her granddaughter play, her rooting interest is more personal.
"I watch them in different ways," she explained. "With Billy coaching, it's different because he's my son. ... When people blame him as the coach for things that go wrong, my maternal instinct comes out.
"I think I worry more about Billy's game in the sense of winning and losing. I care about McKenzie but I sit there in the bleachers and hope she has a good game and she doesn't have a turnover. I think that's what parents do. But I care about Emily [Rosse] and Jen Gale -- all of them. They get to be like family."
The Hoosac Valley basketball family will have its work cut out this afternoon in Amherst. Both teams are playing the top seeds in the tournament. The Sabis boys (15-7) won a back-and-forth game with Mahar to reach the final. The Sabis girls (19-5) have knocked Drury and South Hadley on their run to Saturday's 2:15 final.
Hoosac Valley's girls (21-1) have rolled through the tourney with a pair of 30-point wins and have yet to lose a game to a Massachusetts team this winter. They returned most of the roster from last year's sectional championship squad, including Rosse (14.36 points per game), Gale (11.36 ppg) and Robinson (5.45 assists per game).
Hoosac's boys (16-6) offer a balanced attack with outside threats like Ryan-Kut, Matt Braman and Matt Koperniak and a strong inside game from Jameson Coughlan and Trevor Alibozek.
Hoosac's boys also have one of the more animated coaches you'll see in the Cage on Saturday.
"I worry about his blood pressure during basketball season," Lorraine Robinson says of her son. "He tells me he doesn't have high blood pressure.
"I know my blood pressure goes up for the three months of the basketball season."