CHESHIRE, Mass. – It was a not-so-sweet 16 Tuesday in a rough and rowdy state tournament game where the Hoosac Valley Hurricanes scored 20 from the free throw line en route to a 45-33 victory over the Lenox Millionaires.
Ashlyn Lesure hit eight of her 13 free throws to help give the Canes the win and a spot in the Division 5 State Quarter-Finals.
"I feel like we we came out strong," Lesure said, "but not to our advantage, like we can play. But we came out in the second half strong, which got us high, I think there's just a lot of nerves in the air ... but I think we're doing all right."
To go with her eight free throws, Lesure hit two field goals for a total of 12 Tuesday night. Also in the double digits were Taylor Garabedian, who scored 11 and went 5-for-7 with foul shots, and Abby Scialabba, who had two from beyond the arc and went 4-for-5 from the line, giving her a sum of 10. Also hitting a 3-point shot and scoring six was Emma Meczywor.
“Honestly, I don't think we need any changes, we just need to keep up the intensity and that's it.” Scialabba said. “We need to work on moving our feet and we have to get in front of the cuts in the middle. That's one of our big problems. We don't move our feet on the cuts and then we get into foul trouble.”
For Lenox (17-6), Kelly Nicotra was the leading scorer with eight and nailed two 3-pointers. Also making a 3 was Jocelyn Fairfield, who finished with six points. Kelsey Kirchner had six as well, hitting both her free throws and two buckets.
"They're a pretty tight group, and I have great leaders in my seniors, and I have a very exciting team." Millionaires coach Nicole Patella said. "They complete each other, they have totally different looks. And I've never had that before. So there’s one unit that plays a lot of zone, another unit that can play a lot of man, they're just a lot of fun to watch."
The Hurricanes of late have made a habit of letting the opposition hang around in the first half before finding a way to run away with it.
In Tuesdays foul heavy tournament game, where the Canes (19-4) committed 17 fouls themselves, the fans from both sides were also right in it from jump ball, being a part of the game as much as the players, with loud cheers, bleacher stomping, and taunting of the rival team.
The otherwise fast-paced game was frequently paused with fouls committed by both teams, combining for a total of 40. Lenox made it a tight competition throughout the first half, exchanging the lead back-and-forth until less than 2:30 left of the second quarter when Meczywor hit a triple, boosting the Canes past the Millionaires, 23-21, where it stayed until half-time.
"Honestly" Garabedian said. “We start off slow sometimes, which we don't mean to, but I think at half-time our coach gave us a pep talk, and we realized we had to step it up and we just take it and run with it.”
Like in other recent games, the Hurricanes came out of the half looking like a different team, with an increase in energy and change ups on the defensive end. The Hoosac girls then started to take the game away. Scialabba hit a 3 in both the third and fourth quarters, helping the Hurricanes out score the Millionaires, 11-6, in each quarter.
Hoosac went on an 11-3 run to finish out the fourth and was able to run the clock down in the final minute. The Canes won the match, 45-33, and advance to the Elite 8.
"The kids played great today" Hoosac Valley coach Jon Frederick said. "Well, the first half, it was called a little tight. The first four minutes they got into foul trouble, maybe first six minutes and then the next six we evened out, we got into foul trouble. So we have quite a few kids playing out of position which is a little tough, but I think [Lenox] did too. So it was kind of back and forth.
“There was certainly more foul shots made than shots taken. But, you know, we made a good chunk of our foul shots, which is fantastic for us. And we got to the line, which is good. In the end, they got to the line too. And yeah, the first half was close, but again, a lot of whistles and I think neither team could really get into a good rhythm with the amount of whistles that are being blown. It is what it is, and we got to play through it. They had to play through it, and, in the end, I think it evened out though I haven't seen the book yet, but I think it was probably pretty even. But yeah that was the first half right there.”
Fourth-seeded Hoosac Valley on Saturday evening hosts No. 5 Georgetown (14-8) for a berth in the semi-finals.