Hoosac Girls Roll into State Final
WORCESTER, Mass. -- Thirty points in a quarter.
That is the kind of output that would make any NBA team happy -- and they play 12-minute quarters.
The Hoosac Valley girls Tuesday afternoon did it in just eight minutes -- the critical third quarter of an eventual 64-37 win over Littleton in the Division 3 state semi-finals at the DCU Center.
Fallon Field scored 16 of her game-high 19 points in that quarter as the Hurricanes (21-5) turned a 10-point half-time lead into a 29-point margin with a 21-0 run.
"I would say it was pretty nice," Hoosac senior Madi Ryan understated about the quarter. "Our offensive sets worked really nicely. Fallon was wide open. Our defensive pressure was great. We didn't make many mistakes, which was really why we picked up the lead so much."
Ryan had four assists in the quarter, including two pretty feeds to Field on backdoor cuts.
Field said the difference was Hoosac's ability to force the pace of play coming out of the locker room.
"I think we just stepped it up a lot," she said. "We saw their weakness was playing fast, and that's our strength. So our press really exploited their weaknesses, and that gave us momentum to get a bunch of steals, and that got in their heads.
"Once you get in a girl's head, it's hard for them to break out of that. It worked to our advantage today."
Hoosac, the four-time reigning champion of Western Massachusetts, will make its third straight appearance in the state championship game on Saturday in Springfield, where it will face Bishop Fenwick of Peabody at at noon at Springfield's Mass Mutual Center.
Hoosac built its first half lead on defense, forcing 19 Littleton turnovers, including 10 against the Hurricanes' vaunted full-court press.
The turning point was an 11-0 run that spanned the first and second quarters.
Allie Mendel (15 points) got it started when she scored in transition to make it 6-6 midway through the first. Two trips later, Ryan was fouled in transition and hit her second free throw to give Hoosac a lead it never relinquished.
Field closed the first quarter by driving to the basket and earning a trip to the line, where she hit one of two to give her team a five-point cushion.
Kailynne Frederick and Field scored to open the second quarter and make it 15-6.
After the teams traded buckets, Mendel hit a 3-pointer and knocked down another free throw to give Hoosac its first double-digit lead, 22-12, with 3:07 left until half-time.
"I thought we played really well defensively in the first half," Hoosac coach Ron Wojcik said. "We just left a lot of points on the board. So we talked about that.
"I thought at some point [the shots] would start falling, I didn't know when. Even my talk at half-time was don't let them hang around here and keep it around 10. I wanted to see us push this up to a more comfortable lead."
Boy, did they ever.
After Littleton's Sarah Smith (team-high 17 points) hit the first bucket of the second half, Hoosac scored the next 21 points
Two of the first three buckets in the run came on those backdoor cuts with Ryan throwing the ball over the top to Field on the run toward the basket.
"That's one of our offenses that we work on a lot," Ryan said. "A lot of girls teams don't practice pick-and-rolls and back doors. Madi and I have been playing with each other for a long time, so we have a bond. We know where each other are on the court, so it's nice.
"We scouted this team, and we knew they like the half-court game, so we've been practicing a lot on our half-court sets - working against a lot on different defenses -- 2-3, man, if they help or not."
Meanwhile, Hoosac's defense was way more than the Cougars (19-5) could handle.
"We knew coming into the second half we needed more pressure," Ryan said.
"Once we did that, they couldn't get through our press. We started changing our press and they couldn't keep up with it."
Hoosac got 10 points from Skylar Case and six from Lexi Mercier. Frederick finished with five points and five rebounds while matching up defensively against the 6-foot-2 Smith.