Hoosac Valley's Defense Could Be Key in State Final

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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CHESHIRE, Mass. -- Lost in the dramatic conclusion of Wednesday's Hoosac Valley boys basketball state semi-final win was the how Hoosac's defense put it in position for the double-overtime victory.
The defense that is allowing just fewer than 48 points per game, the defense that kept the 'Canes alive when their offense scored just 13 first-half points in the state semis, the defense that held Uxbridge to six third-quarter points to turn a 21-13 half-time deficit into a 29-27 lead.
And the same defense that is going to have to step up if Hoosac has a shot to beat Old Rochester on Saturday afternoon at Worcester's DCU Center in the Division 3 State Championship game.
The Hoosac boys (17-7) will play the second of six games on Saturday at the venue. The day begins when the Hoosac Valley girls (21-2) make their second straight appearnace in the state finals with a 10:45 tipoff against Archbishop Williams (20-7).
Hoosac's girls also know a thing or two about defense, holding opponents to 45 points or fewer in 16 of 23 games this season.
The boys final features an Old Rochester (22-3) team averaging 69 points per game in the post-season, including Tuesday's 63-49 win over Pentucket in the other state semi-final.
The Boston Globe reports that ORR has four players averaging in double figures, led by freshman point guard Noah Fernandes (15.2 points per game).
On Thursday afternoon, Hoosac Valley coach Bill Robinson said that he has a little bit of a scouting report on the South Sectional champion Bulldogs.
"The guard's going to be trouble," Robinson said, referring to Fernandes. "He's a slasher from what I hear. He goes to the basket well. We don't do well with guys like that.
"We did a good job with [Wahconah's Collin] Parrott in the [Western Mass] title game. He didn't get to where he wanted to get to."
But even if the Hurricanes manage to slow ORR's leading scorer, the Bulldogs will have options.
"The problem is they have some 6-2, 6-3 kids who can jump, I guess, and they're going to give us fits," Robinson said. "So we're going to have to make sure we block out. We're going to have make sure we're nice and tight on defense so there are no driving lanes. We can't get too spread out."
And the Hurricanes cannot get too down if Old Rochester makes an early run. Robinson said he hopes the team can carry the momentum of Wednesday's win forward, but he would not be surprised if it 
"We don't want to lose that spirit," he said. "That's a great feeling right now. The kids are on Cloud Nine. We need them to play at that level.
"But ... we'll come out looking at this team, and this team is aggressive and they're going to take it at us and we're going to be on our heels. I know it. No matter what we do the next couple of days, we're going to be on our heels, we're going to be down 12-2 or something stupid. ... Hopefully, we'll respond."
Hoosac showed on Wenesday how well it can respond -- getting off the mat in the second half, tying the game at the buzzer at the end of the first OT and ultimately winning at the buzzer in the second.
"Our kids are tough, mentall, aren't they?" Robinson said. "Boy, it's nice to see. Kids just working hard and not quiting. That's half the battle."
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