State Finals 'Never Get Old' for Hoosac Girls
CHESHIRE, Mass. -- The Hoosac Valley girls basketball team once again has extended its season and earned either the number one or two spot in the state of Massachusetts.
Where they fall will all depend on Saturday's outcome in the Division 3 State Final game against Archbishop Williams at Worcester's DCU Center.
Hoosac defeated Bellingham on Wednesday evening, 63-57, in the Sate Semi-finals to secure a berth in Saturday's 10:45 state final.
"It's definitely exciting to say we are either one or two in the state," senior McKenzie Robinson said before Thursday's practice. "It's a great feeling out of everything, our hard work, and my senior year I can look back and say I had no regrets, it just feels good that our season's continuing."
Prior to Thursday's practice, the Hurricanes didn't have much intel on their opponent from Southern Mass, who defeated Winthrop Tuesday evening, 47-34, but coach Ron Wojcik's former assistant from his Pittsfield coaching days, Mark Hayden, was able to attend Tuesday's game and scout for Hoosac. And he made the trip to Cheshire for the Hurricanes' practice. Hayden and Wojcik coached together for a dozen years prior to Hayden moving to the Boston area.
Wojick also got some information from another coach down in the Boston area via e-mail this afternoon and he quoted: "[Alana] Gilmore is a beast. I believe she's Virginia Tech bound, it will be tough to hold her under 15 or 17 points. Their two post players are very physical and big and their point guard is really fast, you have to keep her out of the paint."
The e-mail went on pointing out Archbishop Williams' key players and the type of game the like to play.
Wojcik said he has some decisions to make after learning that Winthrop attempted to slow the pace of the game down as opposed to running with them.
"The way we play, they may be too quick and athletic for our press, I don't know," he said.
"We may have to pick and choose our spots to press or try it, but I don't want to let them go on big runs," he continued. "With their size we may have to have more kids in the paint helping out rebounding."
Thursday morning, Hoosac's three captains attended the state finalist breakfast at the DCU Center, where they were able to meet and talk with Archbishop Williams' captains. Seniors Emily Rosse and Amber Lesure spoke of their height and said it is definitely going to be a challenge.
"It doesn't matter if they have recruits or not," Rosse said. "We just need to come out and play our game."
Winthrop gave Archbishop Williams a game Tuesday evening; they trailed by only four points in the final five minutes before losing by 13. Hoosac faced Winthrop earlier this season, a 48-38 loss for the 'Canes on Feb. 16.
"We had it to a two point game at half-time," Wojick said. "Then they made a big run on us in the third, we just did not play very well that day, but I think if we played them again we would have a chance at beating them."
Hoosac planned to spend Thursday afternoon's practice going through the scouting report with Hayden and figuring out its game plan and what might and might not work for them. As far as the magnitude of a State Final game goes, for this squad it is nothing new; it played at the DCU Center last season in the finals and this year the 'Canes are looking for a better outcome.
"It's a big deal, a state championship and you get there two years in a row, it's awesome," Wojcik said. "We will get them focused on Archbishop and what we think we have to do to win the game."
Wojcik said Hoosac's outside shooting could be a key against Archbishop Williams' height. In the semis, Bellingham had two 6-foot-1 girls who did a good job inside the paint on Hoosac center Emily Rosse, who still finished with 14 points. Between Robinson and junior Madi Ryan, the two totaled five 3-pointers; and the Hurricanes Saturday morning may again be looking for their outside shots to fall.
"We just have to play our game," Wojick said. "If we're knocking down 3s, it really doesn't matter how big they are."
Following Wednesday's game Wojick also pointed out that Ryan tends to shoot well on the big courts; she totaled 16 points at MassMutual and 15 at the Curry Hick's Cage in the Western Mass final.
"I prepare myself the same way for every single game," Ryan said. "I focus in warmups and try to hit my shot and figure out where my range is on that court and go from there."
Hoosac will have one more practice day before heading out to Worcester for another shot at the State Title, and this season they will be making the trip with the school's boys team, who is also in the running after defeating Uxbridge in double over-time 52-50 Wednesday evening.
"There was a great atmosphere in school today, everyone is excited for both us and the boys team," Rosse said. "It's a great accomplishment as a senior and for anyone on the team to extend our season as long it can go; it's never going to get old."