State Final Notebook: 'Hoosak' Faced Tall Order in Rudolph
WORCESTER, Mass. -- The legion of red-clad Hoosac Valley High School basketball fans who made the trip east to see their girls basketball team play in the state finals on Saturday hopefully went home more proud than disappointed.
And hopefully they took just a little time to appreciate the talent on display at the DCU Center.
It is rare for a school the size of Hoosac or St. Mary's of Lynn to have three recruited basketball players in the same class on the same floor at the same time.
Local hoops fans will get a couple more chances to see one of St. Mary's super trio in person when Jennie Mucciarone visits Williams College's Chandler Gymnasium with a Tufts Jumbos program that Saturday night advanced to the NCCA Division III Final Four.
Her classmate, Sharrell Sanders, is going to New Jersey to play on scholarship at Division II Caldwell College, where the Cougars have gone to the last two Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference title games.
But the player fans will most remember likely is Brianna Rudolph, who showed exactly why she is the Division I talent she is, scoring 26 points with 12 rebounds in St. Mary's 74-36 win over the 'Canes.
"She's a really tough player," Hoosac senior Meg Rodowicz said of Rudolph. "She can do pretty much anything. She can drive, she can pull up, take the shot. She has range from everywhere. She's a really great player and really hard to guard."
"She’s an unbelievable player," Hoosac coach Ron Wojcik said. "She’s going Division I, and she’s that type of ball player.
"I think she would've scored on anybody we put out there."
Rudolph will take a step up in competition next year at UMass-Lowell, which plays in a solid mid-major conference, the America East. But she might have a legitimate chance to earn playing time right out of the gate. Playing its first year in Division I with a roster dominated by freshmen, the coach Sarah Behn's squad struggled to a 5-23 record.
DROUGHT DOOMS 'CANES: When Fallon Field drove the lane for a lay-in and the first points of the second quarter to cut the Spartans' lead to 19-14, it was the high water mark of the game for Hoosac Valley.
The Hurricanes not only never got that close again, they did not get another field goal until McKenzie Robinson set up Madi Ryan with about two minutes left in the third quarter to make it 56-23.
The rest of Hoosac's points during that span came at the line, where the 'Canes outscored St. Mary's 12-6 on the day.
BLESSING IN DISGUISE: About the only thing that went wrong for St. Mary's in the first half on Saturday was early foul trouble.
Hoosac was in the bonus by the end of the first quarter, and two St. Mary's starters, including Mucciarone, went to the locker room with three fouls apiece.
But even that turned out to be a good thing for the Spartans.
"I thought it actually worked out in our favor," St. Mary's coach Jeff Newall said. "We found out when we were in foul trouble: A. I thought Sophia Holmes came out and gave us a great second quarter. She hadn't played the last two games. And [Temitayo] Falayi, who's a freshman, came in and gave us some good minutes.
"And then, B, to avoid getting in further foul trouble, we backed off and played half-court man. And what we found in the half-court man was we weren't giving as many opportunities charging to the hoop because we were slowing them down. And we were working with a lead, and now they had to run the clock.
"As bad as the foul trouble could have been, it worked out to our advantage because we had to back up."
WHO'S THAT: Maybe Hoosac Valley didn't lose to St. Mary's on Saturday in Worcester.
According to the big scoreboard that hangs above center court at the DCU Center, the Spartans were playing a school called "Hoosak Valley."
Now, in fairness to the graphics people, no one really knows how to spell the name of the river.
In a 140-square mile area covering two states, there are three secondary schools named for that body of water (four if you count the Hoosac School in, get this, Hoosick, N.Y.), and those schools feature three different spellings of the river's name.
In addition to Hoosac Valley (we think), there are two other public schools: Hoosic Valley in Schaghticoke, N.Y., and Hoosick Falls in Hoosick Falls, N.Y.
Lest we forget, the town of Adams was originally called East Hoosuck, as the town's seal points out.
A Google search for "Hoosak" on Sunday morning yielded no hits ... but give it time.
And the Hurricanes should not feel too bad about having their school's name wrong on the scoreboard. One of the best players in the state was listed in the program, announced throughout the game and identified in a Boston Globe online photo caption this week as "Nichole Rudolph."