NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – When you consider what the McCann Tech girls basketball team did not have on Friday night, it is remarkable it did have a chance in the fourth quarter against unbeaten Easthampton.
But the short-handed Hornets ran out of gas, and the Eagles ran off with a 40-31 win in the Hive to improve to 10-0 this winter.
Lauren Morse scored 18 points, and Easthampton hit four straight free throws midway through the fourth to open up the night’s first double-digit lead at 36-26 and never looked back in getting the season sweep against McCann Tech.
Back in mid-December, Easthampton took a 65-54 decision in its gym.
“From the last time we played them, I have 38 points off the floor tonight,” McCann Tech coach Kathy Budaj said, referring to Izzy LaCasse, who has missed the last three games for the 2-6 Hornets.
“We played these guys great tonight. I couldn’t have asked any more. You could tell that they were tired, though.”
While McCann Tech went into the game without its leading scorer and with just three subs on the bench, Easthampton got quality minutes from 13 different players and ran a full court press throughout the second half.
Compounding the depth issues for the Hornets, center Macey Tatro fouled out with six points and six rebounds with 5 minutes, 2 seconds left in regulation.
Tatro had all her points and five of those boards in a first half that saw the Hornets go to the locker room within a point of their Franklin West rivals.
McCann Tech took a 5-0 lead early when Hannah Boisvert (team-high 10 points) scored in transition off an Addie Hayer steal in the first two minutes.
Easthampton came back to tie it on a Morse 3-pointer, but Tatro’s bucket in the post gave the Hornets a 10-8 lead after eight minutes.
The second quarter was a rock fight with the teams combining for just 11 points. Easthampton took a three-point lead late, but Tatro put back an offensive rebound with six seconds left to send McCann Tech to the locker room trailing, 15-14.
“I was very happy with our defense,” Budaj said. “We did a nice job of making them earn their points.”
The Eagles came out in the third quarter with heavy defensive pressure of their own, and that press forced a pair of turnovers that led to transition buckets in a 10-2 run to open the second half.
Reagan Rose hit a 3-pointer to stop that run and had another triple late to get the margin down to five points before Maria Belfakih (nine points) scored in the post to put Easthampton up, 31-24, going to the fourth.
The Hornets were within six on a Boisvert putback with six minutes left. But Easthampton’s Jessica Cloutier converted both ends of a one-and-one, and Morse was fouled in transition and made both her free throws to make it 36-26 on the play that ended the night for Tatro.
Despite the loss, Budaj was proud of her team’s effort as it played just its third game of the month on Jan. 21.
“We were off all last week,” Budaj said. “We only had one practice on Monday. And then we played, and we had the two. We’re still coming back into it.
“I’m asking a lot of bench players, and they’re stepping up. They’re doing a really good job. Overall, a really good game.”
The Hornets head south on Monday to look for their second win of the season against Mount Everett.