Hoosac Girls Right at Home at State Final Venue
To get to Massachusetts high school basketball’s peak, the Hoosac Valley girls will not need the Pike.
The Hurricanes Saturday make their third straight appearance in the Division 3 State Championship game, where they will meet Bishop Fenwick at noon. But unlike the last two years, when the title game was played at Worcester’s DCU Center, this year the game will be at Springfield’s Mass Mutual Center.
The Hurricanes are embracing that change.
“We’re really excited for it,” junior Fallon Field said after Saturday’s semi-final win in Worcester. “We’ve been talking about it since before the game started today.
“Springfield is basically our home. We drove two and a half hours to get here today. It will definitely be nice to be in Western Mass.”
It will be Hoosac Valley’s second game this season in Springfield and third game in three years at the Mass Mutual Center, site of the last two state semi-finals.
This year, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association is consolidating all eight state title games -- boys and girls in each of four divisions -- into a daylong hoopfest in two locations: the Mass Mutual Center and Springfield College’s Blake Arena.
All eight participating teams are invited to a banquet on Friday night at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“No other state has something like this,” said Western Mass Tournament Director Lou Conte.
Of course, whether it’s Mass Mutual or the DCU, the Hurricane know a thing or two about playing on big stages. Saturday will mark the four-time Western Mass champions’ seventh game in a big arena in four years.
Field said all of that experience should help keep the butterflies at bay.
“It will take away some of the nerves,” she said. “We'll still be nervous, but it's not like we're stepping into a huge arena for the first time. We’ll walk out there knowing that we’ve played on this court before, we know what it’s like. And it will be a lot easier.”
In last Saturday’s state semis, Hoosac overcame some early yips before blowing out the Central Mass champions in the third quarter of a 64-37 win. Field, a regular on varsity since her freshman year, said she and the other veterans on the team helped the younger players stay confident while they got used to the surroundings of the 12,000-seat arena.
“We just tell them to keep shooting,” Field said. “Today in the beginning, as you could see, we weren’t hitting a lot of shots. But it's hard to come on this court and shoot perfectly. So you tell Allie and Lexi and Skylar and all those girls to just keep shooting.
“Eventually they’ll fall. You just have to keep their confidence up.”