Drury Boys Survive 'Knock-Down' Battle with Hoosac Valley

By Rick DuteauiBerkshires.com Sports
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- Coming off an emotional victory their last time on the floor on Wednesday night, the Drury Blue Devils maintained that momentum with a gritty, 57-49 home win over the rival Hoosac Valley Hurricanes at Bucky Bullett Gymnasium on Friday night. 
The Blue Devils won their third straight and improved to 7-5 on the season, as they work towards earning a playoff berth.
“This win helps us a lot. We’re just trying to at least get to 10 wins and get into the tournament,” Louis Guillotte said. “We were definitely talking about how we could not get too high or too low. We just need to play our game and we’ll get to 10 wins eventually.” 
Drury came into the action off the heels of the most historic night in program history. Senior Scott McGuire broke the all-time scoring record and then capped the night by also breaking the single-game scoring record, in helping his team win a tight, high-scoring battle over Monument Mountain. 
But with their biggest rival next up, it was important that the Blue Devils were focused and not still celebrating the last one.
“Emotionally, Wednesday night was a big night for us. It was a big win for us against a quality team,” Drury head coach Jack Racette said. “With only one day of practice you can’t really prepare much. They were also coming off a big high after just winning at Wahconah, so they had a lot to play for tonight too. They were coming in hard, and in a rivalry it doesn’t matter what the records say. It was an old-fashioned, knock-down, drag-out rivalry fight in the backyard. They did a good job on Scott and we missed a lot of shots tonight. We were making them all on Wednesday. We got the win, but we’ve got to work on some stuff.”
Neither team had a very strong night offensively. There were very few open looks, as nearly everything was contested. Bodies hit the floor with regularity and each side had to manage players with foul trouble late in the action.
Drury managed to find some offensive rhythm in the second quarter, but otherwise struggled to sink shots. Hoosac (8-5) was relentless on pressuring the ball handler, and allowed only five field goals in the entire second half.
“Give credit to them; they took a lot of charges. Our drives were being stopped by offensive fouls that they were taking,” Racette said. “I thought our big guys could have done a better job of finishing around the basket. We missed a lot of easy ones. I thought we could have gotten on the offensive glass a little bit better. I don’t think we were as prepared as I’d like us to be prepared. But we’ll see those types of defenses again and we’ll be ready for them.”
The second quarter made all the difference in the outcome. With things tied up at 12-12 after one quarter of play, the Blue Devils got going and outscored the Hurricanes 26-14 to take a 38-26 halftime advantage. McGuire scored 13 of his game-high 27 points during that stretch, as Drury’s all-time scoring leader led the way in securing a lead his club never relinquished.
The pace of play intensified right away in the second. McGuire set the tone quickly with a three-pointer, which was then answered with a three from Hoosac’s Cole Desroches. Keegan Vidal then got going with a layup off the glass and another basket in the paint the next trip down, after Tim Brazeau saved a loose ball from going out of bounds with a nice inside bounce to Vidal. 
Things managed to still stay close. A pair of free throws from Shaun Kastner ended that run for Hoosac, before Drury responded with another small spurt when Guillotte scored off an assist from Ben Moulton, who then followed with a bucket as well. Logan Davis then drained a triple for the Canes and Izaha Stubbs an open jumper that had things back within a point at 23-22.
Drury went on a 15-4 run over the final few minutes of the half to pull away. McGuire got open downcourt and pulled up to drain the shot, Brazeau was fouled and hit his first free throw, and Guillotte fought for the rebound off the second free throw attempt and went back up strong for the layup.
“Rebounding is a big part of my game,” said Guillotte, who had nine rebounds, nine points and two blocked shots. “We needed to get rebounds, put it back and get easy points. Whenever I am out there I am just playing a role. We all just had to stop their main players, rebound and make foul shots.”
McGuire helped close out the strong quarter by netting seven points in the final forty seconds of the first half. After making a shot despite being fouled, he then took a pass off an offensive rebound from Guillotte and sunk a three-pointer. A quick steal and drive to the hoop then earned him another easy score.
But points were very tough to come by in the second half.
Other than a few shots from deep, neither side did much scoring in the third quarter. Desroches sunk a pair of three’s for Hoosac to finish with nine total points, while McGuire also hit two three-pointers and Hunter Sarkis chipped in a triple on a night in which he tallied seven points, six rebounds and three assists for the Blue Devils.
“Sometimes Scott is out there and he is trying to do so much and guys are just watching him. We can’t do that,” Racette said. “We’ve got to get the ball moving a little bit. There were times we did that well and we got easy baskets. Then they just started dribbling and guys just started watching him dribble. That is not what we have to do offensively.”
Hoosac made one final rally bid in the fourth quarter, helped in large part by some inspired play from Lucas Levesque. Levesque scored on back-to-back possessions to open the fourth, while also grabbing six of his seven rebounds in the final quarter. Carson Meczywor then sunk a basket that pulled the Hurricanes within 48-43 with five minutes remaining.
But Drury got the plays it needed down the stretch to close things out. Sarkis delivered a three-point play on the ensuing possession to extend the lead back to double digits, and the Blue Devils stiffened on defense and made their free throws to maintain a healthy lead.
With so many games still left to play, both clubs have a good chance of making the playoffs. But games like Friday night’s action serves as a reminder of the type of play they can expect to see should they make it there.
“We take a brutal schedule on playing in the North, but those things make you better,” Racette said. “There is a great atmosphere with a lot of people, really getting into those pressure situations. When we can get the kids into these pressure situations, the better they can handle it come tournament time. That’s our goal is to get into the tournament and hopefully make a run.”
Drury needs to win at least three of its final eight games to earn a playoff berth, while Hoosac Valley needs to win at least two of its final seven games to earn a spot in the playoffs.
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