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Big Second Half Lifts Hoosac Girls to Another State Title

By Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires Sports - Print

02:40PM / Saturday, March 16, 2024


LOWELL, Mass. – After a first half marked by swings of momentum, the Hoosac Valley girls basketball team got the only run that mattered in the third quarter.
 
The Hurricanes went on a 16-3 run in the third quarter to take control and went on to a 71-53 win over West Boylston in the Division 5 State Championship Game at the Tsongas Center.
 
Taylor Garabedian scored a team-high 22 points and grabbed five rebounds, and Abby Scialabba scored 16 points for the ‘Canes, who got 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists from Ashlyn Lesure.
 
Scialabba scored 11 points in the third quarter alone, which started with the Lions ahead, 32-31, and ended with Hoosac Valley holding a 53-38 lead.
 
“Coach basically just said to me, ‘Abby, I need you to drive,’ “ Scialabba said. “They were double-teaming Taylor, so we tried to get me more opportunities. So I just kept driving, and they started going in.
 
“He kept yelling at me to drive, so I guess I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ve got to take things into my own hands.”
 
Scialabba, Garabedian, Lesure and senior classmates Hanna Shea and Haley McNeice won in their second trip to the state finals and gave Hoosac Valley its third girls basketball state championship in the last six years.
 
“We’ve been playing together for so long, so it really sucks having to leave them,” an emotional Garabedian said. “It’s awesome to finish off with a win.”
 
The Hurricanes jumped on top early and led, 11-6, when Emma Meczywor set up Garabedian, and Garabedian got an and-one to put Hoosac Valley ahead, 11-6.
 
But West Boylston rallied in a big way, going on a 19-1 run that spanned the first and second quarters and saw Madison Pitro score eight of her game-high 23 points.
 
The Lions’ Shannen Lusksha scored to give West Boylston a 25-12 lead and force the Hurricanes to call a timeout just 1 minute, 36 seconds into the second quarter.
 
Coming out of that timeout, Haley McNeice scored from the elbow for Hoosac Valley to snap West Boylston’s run.
 
And moments later, Garabedian scored in the post to start a 7-0 Hurricane run that ended with another basket by her down low to make it 27-23, West Boylston, with about four minutes left in the half.
 
After a basket from the Lions’ Sophia Johnson, Hoosac Valley scored eight straight – four from Ashlyn Lesure, a bucket from Hanna Shea and Garabedian’s 17th point of the quarter, on a basket from the right wing to give her team a 31-30 lead with 1:57 on the clock.
 
The only other points of the half came with 3.9 seconds on the clock, when Pitro got to the line and scored her 14th point of the half to send the Lions into the locker room with a 32-31 lead.
 
Hoosac Valley coach Jon Frederick knew that his squad, which includes six players from the 2022 state championship team, was battle-tested and prepared for a tight game.
 
“Even in the first half, down 13, that was basically the timeout to tell them, ‘Look, settle down,’ “ Frederick said. “We’ve been here. We know how to play. Why are we playing so passive? They should be the ones playing passive because, you know, they haven’t had this experience in this environment.
 
“Once we kind of woke them up, which I didn’t think we’d have to do, they know how to play, they know what’s expected. They know how to run our sets against whatever is presented in front of them. And I couldn’t be more proud of all of them, actually.”
 
Hanna Shea put back an offensive rebound in the opening moments of the second half to give Hoosac Valley a 33-32 lead, and the Hurricanes never again trailed.
 
It was a 37-35 lead a few minutes later when Scialabba knocked down a 3-pointer to start the decisive run.
 
She capped the run with a basket off an assist from Lesure to stretch the margin to 15 points going to the fourth quarter.
 
“[Scialabba] came in actually a little bit under the weather,” Frederick said. “She came down with a little bit of a fever yesterday. So we’re going, ‘Oh, please, no. We haven’t lost anybody all year. Let’s not do it in the finals.’
 
“She started to get her confidence in the Renaissance game. And it’s something that she really hasn’t had all year. I think she puts a big burden on her back and she doesn’t want to fail by missing a shot. We told her, ‘You gotta attack, and you can attack.’ She’s great off the dribble. She can shoot the ball. ‘This is your game as much as the other seven or eight kids that are on the floor. So go out and have fun.’ “
 
Lesure hit a triple to open the fourth quarter, and the Hurricanes never allowed West Boylston to get the margin to single digits in the period.
 
The closest they came was when Pitro got to the line and sank a pair to make it 59-48, but Scialabba answered by driving the right wing for an and-one. And Lesure and Emma Meczywor combined to make five of six at the line to get the lead up to 67-50 with 2:11 on the clock.
 
From there, it was just a matter of time before the Hurricanes were able to start the celebration.
 
“It’s awesome,” Garabedian said. “Not even just for the seniors but for the younger kids. We’ve been playing together since the third grade.”
 
The Hurricanes got scoring from seven different players in the title game, including eight combined from juniors Meczywor and Maryn Cappiello.
 
Cappiello hit a big 3 late in the third quarter to give Hoosac Valley its first 10-point lead at 48-38.
 
“These kids, you can’t say enough about it,” Frederick said. “They play together. … They’ve stuck with the program. They stuck with the routine. They question things along the way, which is always good, but, in the end, they know what each one is going to give, and they’re not afraid to let each one take these minutes or whatever.
 
“There’s not a lot of, ‘Oh my God, I should be playing 18 or 20 minutes a game.’ They understand that some of these kids are going to get gassed and, ‘After four minutes, I’m done. I need someone to come in.’ Everybody has accepted that. … They all know they can all play.”
 

 


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