Wahconah, Hoosac Girls on Potential Collision Course in Quarters

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- In the Western Massachusetts Division 3 girls basketball community, everyone finally knows where they stand.
They have no idea who will be the last one standing.
“None of us can figure out the calculations,” Wahconah coach Liz Kay said Saturday after the sectional tournament pairings were announced at Springfield Central High School. “I heard three different things the last four or five days about where people were going to fall. And nobody seems to get it right.
“You've got a bunch of Type A coaches who want to know ... and nobody can figure out the calculations. We try, trust me.”
Now we know that the top seeds -- and coveted first-round byes in the 12-team field -- go to No. 1 Hampshire (18-2), No. 2 South Hadley (16-4), No. 3 Hoosac Valley (18-2) and No. 4 Granby (15-5).
Kay’s Wahconah team is seeded sixth with a record of 17-3 and faces a Monday first-round matchup against No. 11 Narragansett (12-8).
She was not as concerned with how the seeds fell as she was knowing who she has to get her team ready to play in just more than 48 hours.
“I think it's a pretty open tournament,” Kay said. “You've got to beat somebody to get where you want to go, so you can't get too wrapped up in the seeds.
“I think the only team [to play Narragansett] is Athol, really, in Western Mass. …  We've gotten some information, certainly, but we're going to cover our bases knowing we only have one day of practice before we play it, so you had to do enough math to narrow it down to get to two or three teams.”
If Wahconah makes it through to the quarter-finals, a much more familiar opponent awaits, five-time defending Western Mass champion Hoosac Valley. The teams split their two regular season meetings with each squad winning at home.
The D3 bracket includes two other Berkshire County squads. No. 7 Monument Mountain (11-9) gets a home game on Monday against No. 10 Mahar (13-7). And No. 12 Drury (10-10) opens up at No. 5 Greenfield (19-1).
In Division 2, only Pittsfield (13-7) qualified from the county to the seven-team field. The fifth-seeded Generals open post-season play in Thursday in the sectional quarter-finals at No. 4 Quabbin (14-6).
There are three county teams in the Division 4 field, but there will be at most two remaining after the tournament’s first round games are over on Monday night.
No. 9 McCann Tech (9-11) makes the short trip to face No. 8 Lenox (6-14). Meanwhile, No. 5 Mount Everett (11-9) is home to face No. 12 Gateway (12-8).
The Eagles missed a top-four seed by a narrow margin in the Walker System ratings used to rank qualifying teams. Mount Everett ended the year with a Walker rating of 108.22, just behind Turners Falls’ 108.32.
The good news for the Eagles is that they know their 11-9 record does not reflect the rugged Berkshire County league schedule it played to get to the tourney.
“I think right now we're playing really good,” Rote said. “The last two games of the season against Monument and Wahconah were good matches. We played them both hard. I think that helps get us ready for the playoffs, when you play the better D3s. We thought Monument getting in would help us with our strength of schedule -- obviously, if we could have pulled it out and won that game, it would have been great for us.
“The last few days we've been practicing well. We're ready to go. And the team is more complete now. We've come together from that one drop to Greylock mid-season. After that, we sort of kicked into gear and started playing much, much better.”
One thing Mount Everett has in common with a number of other county teams: an active vacation week schedule.
Wahconah’s Kay said she is glad her team goes into Monday’s game having played five games in 10 days leading up to the cutoff for regular season contests.
“Two years ago, we had a week or week and a half off,” she said. “For that team, it wasn't a good thing. I think it really depends on the personality of the team. Some teams really benefit from the extra time.
“We have kids who want to play. They're ready to play. For us, it's great that we had the games this week. I like playing a prelim game, so I think it will be good for us to play on Monday.”
As always, there is a 24-hour waiting period before seeds are official on Sunday to allow for teams to file appeals with the seeding committee. The dates of games are subject to change (but unlikely to do so) based on mutual agreement of the schools involved.
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