Wahconah Girls Fulfill Dream of Western Mass Title

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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WESTFIELD, Mass. – How do you top perfection?
The Wahconah girls basketball team found out on Saturday afternoon.
One year after going 20-0 in a season that featured no post-season, Wahconah brought home a long-sought Western Massachusetts championship with a convincing 56-53 win over South Hadley in the Class B final at Westfield High.
Olivia Gamberoni scored a game-high 17 points to go with 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Olivia Mason scored 14 with a couple of steals in the post as Wahconah improved to 17-4, gained some momentum going into this week’s Division 4 state tournament and, most importantly, took care of some unfinished business.
“It means everything,” Wahconah coach Liz Kay said. “We’ve got a bunch of kids who, that’s all they’re told from the time they’re 5 years old. They go to the games, and they want to win Western Mass.
“It’s never really about the state tournament, ironically. It’s always been about Western Mass. So, to get one is really special for our team.”
Wahconah went to the final four of the “old” Western Mass sectional tournament the last three years it was contested, losing in the finals in 2018 and 2020 and the semi-finals in 2019.
Although the advent of a statewide tournament this year means the sectional has no impact on entry to the D4 tourney, the title felt just as real for the Wahconah players as they watched the final seconds tick off the clock on Saturday evening.
“I wouldn’t have imagined being in this moment right now,” Eva Eberwein said. “As a senior, it’s just amazing to feel that.
“We haven’t done this for 12 years, I think, so it feels amazing to be part of this team as a senior.”
Eberwein was one of four Wahconah players to score in double figures on Saturday. She scored 10, and Emma Belcher added 13.
After a low-scoring first quarter ended with the Tigers up, 10-9, Wahconah took the lead for good with a 15-4 second quarter.
Belcher scored seven points and Mason added six in the frame, ending the half on the scoring end of a pick-and-roll with Gamberoni to send Wahconah to the locker room up by 10.
Kay’s cagers stretched the lead to 17 by the end of the third quarter, but South Hadley rallied with six straight to open the fourth quarter.
Mason stemmed the momentum when she got to the line with 5 minutes, 40 seconds remaining and hit both her free throws to pusht he lead to 43-29.
“She’s just steady Eddie,” Kay said of the sophomore pivot. “She does not get emotional. She does her role, she does it perfectly. She knows what’s expected of her. She’s really smart. And with that intelligence, obviously, comes great spacing and great plays.”
South Hadley took a timeout with 3:39 left to try to make one more push down 47-33, but Wahconah scored the game’s last nine points to put the contest away, getting an Eberwein triple and 4-for-4 foul shooting from Danni Barry and Eberwein down the stretch.
Gamberoni did the honors of scoring the game’s final points, but she was just as big distributing the ball all night in the win.
“She’s just as unselfish as any other player on the floor,” Kay said of her team’s leading scorer. “She’ll try to find what’s open, whether it’s for her or somebody else.”
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