Taylor Garabedian Leads Hoosac Girls Past Wahconah

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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DALTON, Mass. – Taylor Garabedian scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds Thursday to lead the Hoosac Valley girls basketball team to a 48-43, come-from-behind victory and a season sweep of Wahconah.
Rylynn Witek and Averie McGrath each scored 10 for the Hurricanes, who trailed by as many as 13 points early in the second quarter.
“What’s been great about coaching the women this year is that, not matter what the situation is, they’re continuing to try to be the best they can be in that moment,” Hoosac Valley coach Holly McGovern said. “I think at one point, it was 19-8, and we didn’t freak out. We just relaxed, we stayed composed, and we knew that eventually the shots are going to fall for us, and our defense is going to start clicking.
“It’s about them making adjustments and at the right time.”
Wahconah got a game-high 15 from Olivia Gamberoni and 10 points apiece from Eva Eberwein and Emma Belcher.
It did have the benefit of having Grace Wigington, who averages a team-best 20 points per night.
Wahconah coach Liz Kay said she hopes to have the sophomore back in the lineup next week. But Kay also said she is proud of the way the rest of the team stepped up.
“Grace wasn’t here tonight, so we basically said to other kids that they have to play above the level they’ve played at all year in many different ways,” Kay said. “And, honestly, for the most part, I think they did. They were gritty, they were tough. Yes, we made a lot of mistakes, but they weren’t tentative mistakes. They were aggressive mistakes.”
And the experience the rest of Wahconah’s lineup gained in Wigington’s absence could pay dividends down the road.
“Our seniors, Ella [Quinto] and Eva [Eberwein], who have not played much on varsity the last three years, I thought they were tremendous,” Kay said. “I thought they both played above the level they have played at all year.
“And I understand that it really hurts to lose a game. But we’re not playing for Jan. 20. Perhaps having to step up and learn from this experience helps us in a month. That’s what we’re trying to work on.”
Perhaps fueled by the knowledge that they had to step up, Wahconah came up with big defensive plays in the first quarter to jump on top early.
Eberwein’s 3-pointer capped an 8-2 run to start the game, and the hosts led by eight, 14-6, at the end of the quarter.
Emma Belcher hit a triple and Gamberoni scored in transition to push the lead to 19-6 early in the second, but Garabedian scored in the post at the other end to start a 15-4 Hoosac Valley run to half-time that made it a one-possession game again.
Garabedian capped the run by setting up Witek in the post to draw the Hurricanes within two at 23-21.
“I’m really happy for Taylor,” McGovern said. “We’ve been asking her to take some defensive assignments that have been really challenging. We were hoping that by doing that, it would start to elevate the rest of her game. I’m glad that she did that tonight.
“I think it started with her defense, and on the offensive side, she had some key baskets for us, especially when we were down.”
Hoosac Valley’s defense was the key to its comeback. The Hurricanes forced seven Wahconah turnovers in the second quarter and six more in the third when Hoosac Valley went ahead for the first time.
It took its first lead on a 3-pointer by McGrath to make it 27-25.
The teams then went back and forth with Wahconah tying it up at 33-33. But Gabby Billetz scored to give the Hurricanes the lead again, and Alyssa Garabedian helped keep Hoosac Valley ahead at the end of the third by taking a charge in the final seconds to deny Gamberoni on a drive to the basket.
Witek hit a 3 to start the fourth quarter, and Hoosac Valley eventually led by six before Wahconah answered with a 7-0 spurt to regain the lead at 40-39 on a Gamberoni 3-pointer from the top of the key with five minutes left.
Billetz answered with a basket from the top of the key to put the Hurricanes ahead, 41-40, and a Witek putback in transition, an Ashlyn Lesure triple and three straight Wahconah turnovers left Hoosac Valley ahead, 46-40, with three minutes left to play.
McGrath scored the final Hoosac Valley points with just under a minute on the clock to make it a seven-point margin, and Wahconah went 1-for-4 at the foul line down the stretch, missing a pair of front ends on one-and-ones, to stall its comeback effort.
Prior to the game, the Berkshire County basketball officials recognized 2021 Wahconah graduate Maria Gamberoni for earning last winter’s Oswald Tower Scholarship. The award usually is given out at the season-ending Berkshire County All-Star Game, which was not held last winter due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wahconah (9-2), which saw a nine-game winning streak come to an end on Thursday, hosts Amhest-Pelham on Tuesday.
Hoosac Valley (8-1), whose one loss came to Amherst, hosts Lee on Friday. 
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