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Hoosac Valley Girls Head Back to State Title Game

By Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires Sports - Print

11:44PM / Tuesday, March 12, 2024

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Hoosac Valley senior Abby Scialabba made just two baskets in Tuesday’s Division 5 Semi-Final at West Springfield High School.
The second one came at the perfect time to help the Hurricanes secure a 57-49 win over Renaissance and a berth in this week’s state title game.
Ashlyn Lesure scored 21 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and passed out three assists to lead the top-seeded Hurricanes (22-3) to a date with No. 2 West Boylston (21-3).
Emma Meczywor also had a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards, and Taylor Garabedian had 12 points and nine boards for Hoosac Valley, which won its 15th straight game.
This one did not come easily.
The Hurricanes played uphill most of the night against Zi’Yan Wallace (23 points, 17 boards) and No. 4 Renaissance (23-1), the Western Massachusetts Class C Champion.
But Hoosac Valley took a seemingly comfortable lead early in the fourth quarter after an 11-0 run that ended in a steal by Lesure and her assist to Meczywor, who made it 50-37 with 4 minutes, 37 seconds left to play.
That’s when the Renaissance Phoenix lived up to its name and rose from the ashes, scoring 10 points in two minutes to make it a one-possession game, 50-47, when Wallace scored in transition with 2:28 left to play.
On Hoosac Valley’s ensuing possession, Scialabba drained a 3-pointer to start the Hurricanes on a 9-2 spurt to end the game and close out the win.
“It’s huge,” Meczywor said of Scialabba’s triple. “That felt like it was going on the whole game. Every time we needed it, someone would hit something that we needed. So we definitely pulled through.”
Scialabba finished with five points, just under her modest average of 6.2 for the season, but the senior had the confidence to knock down a shot at the critical juncture.
“Abby’s shot really hasn’t been there all year,” Hoosac Valley coach Jon Frederick said. “I think she’s been in her head a little bit. But we told her, you’ve got to stick with it. She’s a shooter. She can score. She knows she can shoot from anywhere on the floor.
“She’s pretty much got a green light when she’s open. But, again, she’s a little hesitant because she doesn’t want to miss. You know, if they miss, we rebound. We’re good. They just have to know they can shoot that open shot.”
After Wallace hit a pair of free throws to make it a four-point game at 53-49, Lesure scored off Hoosac Valley’s press break to push the margin back to six. She then hit a pair of free throws in the final minute to provide the final margin of victory.
The first half was a dog fight with the lead changing hands four times and neither team up by more than five until the closing minutes of the second quarter.
That is when Renaissance went on an 8-0 run to take a 25-19 lead on a Wallace free throw with 1 minute, 59 seconds left in the half.
Meczywor answered at the other end with a triple, but the Phoenix’s Sy’Nye Baker (17 points) was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made one of her free throws to send Renaissance into the locker room with a 26-22 advantage.
“We told the girls at the beginning of the game, we need 32 minutes,” Frederick said. “We haven’t played 32 minutes all year. And I think we played maybe 14 minutes today, and it was in the second half.
“The first half, we were unorganized. They said they couldn’t hear the plays, but obviously someone was hearing it, but we weren’t communicating. We had a lot more mental breakdowns today that kind of came into play, and it was pretty loud in there. The crowd noise was a little deafening. I can see what they were getting at in the first half, and you could tell we were just out of sorts. We were running half a play, and the other half didn’t know what was going on.”
Garabedian, who sat with two early fouls in the first half, scored early in the second to tie the game at 28-28, and Scialabba scored off a baseline inbound pass from Hanna Shea to give Hoosac Valley a 30-28 lead that it never lost.
Though Renaissance did get as close as one point when Baker’s free throw made it 34-33 with 2:45 left in the third.
It was 39-27, Hurricanes when they started their best run of the night, an 11-0 stretch that spanned the third and fourth quarters.
The run started with a basket by Meczywor and included a buzzer-beating 3 from Lesure to make it 47-37 at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth, Garabedian scored in transition with an assist from Lesure, and Meczywor scored to make it 50-37 before Renaissance threw another scare into the Class D champs.
Afterward, Frederick said that he was afraid his squad was starting to take that regional championship – and even a trip to the Division 5 Final Four – for granted, given the program’s success through the years.
“So to actually see emotion today in the locker room was huge,” he said. “You hate to say it, but they’re so accustomed to [winning]. They don’t know what it’s like to lose. I said to someone on the bus on the way to the game, ‘We’ve got to go three years and not win a game so that these girls know what winning is really about.
“They put in the time and effort, and they deserve to win. But there’s the emotional part that they have to let out. And they let it out today. That was good to see.”


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