Rumbolt, Rosse Help 'Canes to WMass. WinADAMS, Mass — Tori Rumbolt's impact on the Hoosac Valley girls' basketball team isn't always seen on the stat sheet. Sometimes it's sure hard to miss on the court, though.
The junior point guard certainly made her presence known on Monday night, making three clutch plays down the stretch to help the Hurricanes pull out a 67-60 win over South Hadley in the first round of the Division 2 Western Massachusetts tournament. No. 8 Hoosac was in danger of losing on its home court against the ninth-seeded Tigers when Rumbolt took control of the game. With her team down by one point with less than three minutes to play, Rumbolt sparked a 7-1 run in the closing minutes to give the Hurricanes their first postseason win in nearly 10 years.
"Her play at the end was outstanding," Hoosac head coach Ron Wojcik said. "She went 4 for 4 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, and [she's] one of our upperclassmen. After Erica Mach fouled out, Tori is really the leader at that point. I thought she did a really great job of it."
Trailing 57-56 with the ball in her hands, Rumbolt dribbled through South Hadley's effective full-court press, beat her defender on the right sideline and dished the ball off to a wide-open Emily Rosse. The pass came just in time for Rumbolt, who narrowly avoided picking up her fifth foul by dishing the ball off just before she ran into a Tigers' defender. The South Hadley fans wanted a charge, but Rosse calmly laid the ball in the basket for two of her 13 fourth-quarter points.
"They were definitely pressuring us really hard, so we were just looking for the open people," Rumbolt said. "When Erica Mach fouled out, we knew right then and there that we had to lock down for her. She's our only senior and that would have been her last game if we lost, so we knew we just had to lock down and make the plays."
"When she got her fourth [foul], I talked to her and basically told her that she needed to be careful on her drives, not getting a charge and you can't reach anymore," Wojcik said. "You have to play it straight up. She hung in there and played very smart down the stretch."
After Tigers' guard Kara Callahan made one of two foul shots to tie the game, Rumbolt, who finished the game with six points, four rebounds and six assists, once again gave her team the lead by making two free throws of her own. She then provided the dagger with 58.3 seconds left on the clock, snagging an offensive rebound in the middle of the lane and quickly finding Rosse with a dump-off pass down low. Rosse sank the lay in and was fouled. When she swished the free throw, the hosts had a cool five-point lead and were well on their way to a date with top-seeded Mahar on Thursday night.
"I don't know [how I saw her]," Rumbolt said of game-clinching pass to Rosse. "Me and Rosse communicate very well. She always knows that I don't really look at people when I pass to them, so she's always looking for the ball. Most of the times it goes to her, and we just work together really well."
"It wasn't our best night, but we still gave it our all and it turned out for the better."
Sophomore Megan Rodowicz (11 points) made 3 of 4 foul shots in the final 30 seconds to clinch the win for the Hurricanes, who probably got a little more than they bargained for out of a determined South Hadley (11-10) squad. After opening up a 10-point lead in the second quarter, Hoosac (14-7) just couldn't seem to shake a Tigers' team that played at a lightning-fast pace. South Hadley pressed on defense and ran the fast break on offense, a hectic combination that resulted in a total of 48 fouls and 75 free throws.
"It was tough," Wojcik said. "We didn't do a good job defensively tonight. This team gets up and down the court, so I thought one of the things that might happen is we might have to outscore them tonight. We can be better defensively, but I think what happens is when you get caught running with them, people are out of position and you're not locked down like you need to be. They make you play that way, and it's a tough style for girls to play defensively. The game is so fast, and our girls were playing with their hands instead of their feet. It's a credit to them because they make you do that."
Led by Meghan Ginley's 11 first-half points, the Tigers rallied back to cut the Hurricanes' lead to 34-29 at halftime. They didn't run the prettiest offense to watch, but their swarming defense forced eight Hoosac turnovers in the second half and allowed the visitors to stay side by side with the 'Canes the rest of the game. The hosts led by seven points early in the third quarter, but South Hadley pulled within one point by the time the fourth quarter got underway.
Both teams had ample opportunities from the charity stripe, but it was Hoosac who made the most of their chances, sinking 26 of 38 on the night. The Tigers made 20 of 37, meanwhile, but really came on strong in the fourth quarter, making 8 of 10 to start the final quarter, a stretch that helped them earn a 53-50 with just over four minutes left in the game. A big turning point came just moments later, however, when South Hadley forward Megan Lynes (six points) picked up her fifth foul of the game on what looked to be a pretty clean block on Hoosac sophomore Jenn Gale (10 points).
"She didn't even do anything," Tigers head coach Paul Dubuc said. "Her hand had was just straight up. I don't know, I'm baffled.
"My kids played hard, but their kids played great. I take nothing away from their kids. We work on [our fast break], we try to play as many kids as we can and get out and go. I know they're young and we're young, too. We're going to get better."
The full-court press of South Hadley helped keep the ball out of Rosse's hands for stretches of the game, but the talented freshman still got enough touches to post a game-high 31 points and 18 rebounds. She was extremely deadly out of inbounds plays, scoring three different times on set pieces in the second half alone. Rosse eventually starting finding open space in the back of the Tigers' press break, and it cost the visitors the game down the stretch. With her latest scoring outburst, Rosse has now passed the 300-point mark in her first season playing on the varsity team. Not bad for a freshman, huh?
Now up for Rosse, Rumbolt and the rest of 'Canes is a date with a 19-1 Senators team on Thursday night. Maybe this Hoosac team is just too young and inexperienced to be intimidated by the challenge that lies ahead of them.
"We're definitely putting our nose to the grind," Rumbolt said. "Hopefully we can work hard in these two practices leading up to Mahar and then give them a hard game. Hopefully, we can come out with a win."
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