SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Hoosac Valley girls basketball team Wednesday trimmed a 13-point deficit down to four in the fourth quarter, but top-seeded Millis put the game away at the free throw line to advance to the Division 4 State Championship game with a 57-47 win.
Millis went 12-for-12 at the charity stripe in the final 1 minute, 27 seconds to earn a spot in the finals against second-seeded Springfield International Charter, which advanced with a 48-39 win over Sutton on Monday.
Lindsey Grattan scored 20 points, including 10-for-10 shooting at the line in the fourth quarter, to lead Millis, which led most of the night.
It took an early lead by showing strength inside and outside, with Grattan knocking down 3-pointers and Mia Molinari (13 points) scoring in the post.
Molinari and Hailey Bassett each finished with double-digit rebounds for Millis.
“They killed us on the boards,” Hoosac Valley coach John Frederick said. “There was a timeout where I didn’t let the kids sit on the bench, and I said, ‘You’re either going to work or you’re not. We’re gonna find five girls that are going to work.’ After that happened, I think they kind of woke up a little bit, and we did get a little more physical.
“But we weren’t as physical on the cuts as we needed to be today. And that’s unfortunate. It’s tough. You don’t see it in practice at that speed. We knew it was going to happen, but we weren’t getting in front of those cuts. And they ended up with a lot of wide open shots, and they made them and we didn’t.”
Millis led by nine early in the second quarter when the Hurricanes (20-5) went on an 11-2 run to tie it.
Taylor Garabedian (19 points) scored two buckets in the run and capped it by setting up Haley McNeice for
a 3-pointer to make it 24-24.
Grattan scored to help Millis take a 30-26 lead into half-time, and that quickly grew to eight in the opening moments of the third quarter.
The Hurricanes were down by 11 after three, and a putback by Molinari gave Millis the biggest lead of the night, 45-32, in the second minute of the fourth quarter.
That was the last field goal allowed by Hoosac Valley, which forced 11 Millis turnovers in the fourth quarter.
Eight of those turnovers fueled a 7-0 run that ended when Ashlyn Lesure (12 points) scored with 1:30 remaining in the game to make it 45-39.
After Grattan got to the line and hit both ends of a one-and-one, Leisure knocked down a 3-pointer to get Hoosac Valley within five at 47-42.
Again, the Hurricanes were forced to foul, and again Grattan converted both ends of a one-and-one to push the lead back to seven.
But on Hoosac Valley’s next trip, Emma Meczywor drilled a triple to make it a four-point game at 49-45 with
1:05 on the clock.
Millis ended up going to the line on its last six possessions, producing 12 points. Six of them extended the lead to 55-45 before the Hurricanes were able to score their last points on a pair of Lesure free throws with 30 seconds left to get the margin down to eight points.
Hoosac Valley loses just one senior, Billetz, from a team that won a Western Massachusetts championship and came within one win of the program’s fourth straight trip to the state title game.
“It’s encouraging [to bring back so many players], but we’ve got to find somebody to replace Gabby,” Frederick said. “She’s been a stud on the team for four years, basically. She had the one year off with COVID or whatever. Gabby will be a tough replacement, for sure, but to only be losing one of our first eight speaks volumes for the program and volumes for the kids. They like playing basketball, and this year they bought into my style of basketball, which isn’t the traditional Hoosac basketball. So that’s been good.”