Hoosac Boys in Uncharted Territory in State Semis
CHESHIRE, Mass. -- The Hoosac Valley boys basketball team last week survived the pressure cooker that was Curry Hicks Cage.
On Wednesday evening, its coach is on the hot seat.
"We've got nothing, not a thing on them," Bill Robinson said Tuesday about Hoosac's state semi-final opponent.
"We're going to have to go into tomorrow and see what their tendencies are early. That's on me. I've got to do that."
The Western Massachusetts champion Hurricanes (16-7) take on Central Mass champ Uxbirdge (18-4) at about 5:45 on Wednesday in the state semi-finals, right after Hoosac's girls meet Bellingham in their D3 semi-final.
For Robinson's boys team, the Spartans are something completely different after a Western Mass tournament that saw Hoosac beat Berkshire County foes Mount Greylock, Drury and Wahconah in the quarter-finals, semis and championship, respectively.
Robinson said he called around looking for a scouting report on Uxbridge but did not learn much.
"So we've all got roles tomorrow," he said. "These guys have to play and execute, and I also have to execute early myself and find out early what they're doing, who they're going to, how do they get the ball there, what they like to do. And we're going to have to adjust on the fly a little bit."
Fortunately for Robinson, he likes his team's ability to adapt and make in-game adjustments.
"Our kids have always been pretty good at adjusting on the fly," he said. "That's one of the things we pride ourselves on throughout the years is we're able to make adjustments. It saves timeouts."
Robinson said he does not like to burn timeouts early in the game, joking that he is banking them for retirement. But he admitted he may have to call some early on Wednesday if there are changes that need to be made to counter Uxbridge.
Robinson showed as recently as Saturday just how loathe he is to call timeout. He chose to let the flow of the game dictate Hoosac's last possession, which saw Matt Koperniak connect with 13 seconds left to provide the margin in a 48-46 victory.
It was Hoosac's fourth straight win decided by four points or fewer. In fact, 14 of the Hurricanes' 23 games this season have been decided by six points or fewer -- including a midseason stretch when Hoosac went 2-5 with all five losses by a combined total of 20 points.
"We learned we can't play selfish," Hoosac senior Nate Tomkiewicz said of the midseason slump, which included a loss to Drury that the Hurricanes avenged twice -- in North Adams and Amherst.
"When we started to play as a team, we came together and we started to win the big games that mattered."
Senior Austin Milesi said Tuesday that all the experience in one- and two-possession games during the regular season prepared Hoosac when it was crunch time in the tourney.
"It definitely helped us out," Milesi said. "Being in those close games gave us more experience, and we were more prepared for what we had to do in order to win."
To win on Wednesday, Hoosac will need to contend with the inside and outside strength of Uxbridge.
Six-foot-5 senior center Daniel Lanoue leads the Spartans with nearly 17 points per game, according to the website of the Worcester Telegram. In Saturday's Central Mass championship game, the difference was sophomore Ryan Marois, who hit nine 3-pointers for 27 points in a 60-54 win over Clinton.
"I know personnel," Robinson said. "I know they've got a 6-5 kid [Lanoue]. I know they have a pretty good point guard and a shooting guard who had nine 3s the other day. They've got a football player [Jake Taparausky] who signed a Letter of Intent to play at Marist College, Division I football. So they've got athletes, let's face it.
"We'll see what happens tomorrow. But we've got some tough-minded guys. They'll go at it. I know [Uxbridge is] big. But we're going to throw our best at 'em."