Wigington, Wahconah Top Hoosac Valley

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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DALTON, Mass. – The Wahconah girls basketball team got a valuable player back in the lineup for Thursday’s season-opener against Hoosac Valley.
When the teams meet again in mid-January, the Hurricanes will hope to be able to do the same.
Wahconah junior Grace Wigington hit six 3-pointers and scored a game-high 25 points to lead her team to a 58-34 win.
“After last year, I definitely missed it a lot, and it was really hard to watch,” Wigington said. “But coming back tonight was unreal. It was amazing.”
Wigington missed the end of last season with an injury after averaging more than 18 points per game in 15 games, setting the school’s single-game scoring record along the way.
She had 22 points at half-time in her return.
After a sluggish start offensively for both teams, Wiggington hit two 3s in the last two minutes of the first quarter to break a 5-5 tie and help send her team into the break with a 13-7 lead.
She then hit three times from behind the arc and scored 15 in the second quarter as Wahconah outscored Hoosac, 26-7, to take a 39-14 lead into the locker room.
“I think it was defense, definitely, getting those open shots with the fast breaks,” Wigington said. “That’s what allowed us to settle in and keep fighting.
“The first [3-pointer] went in, and I just said, ‘OK, let’s see what happens.’ “
Olivia Gamberoni scored 13 points – 11 in the first half – and Wahconah got offensive contributions from nine different players.
“[Wigington] isn’t the only one who can do it,” Wahconah coach Liz Kay said. “She just happened to be the one who did it first.
“Absolutely, it is [nice to have Wigington back]. Basketball is a game of runs, and we just happened to have one kid go on a run by herself a little bit. The great thing about it is the kids know that: If it’s her, they’re going to find her. If it’s somebody else, they’re going to find that kid. They’re a smart group, and they’ll figure it out as we go.”
After everything went Wahconah’s way in that second quarter, Kay gave her starters a lot of rest in the second half. And an undermanned Hoosac Valley team, which trailed by as many as 30 at one point, outscored its hosts, 14-7, in the fourth quarter.
Emma Meczywor and Haley McNeice each scored nine points to lead the Hurricanes, who were missing Gabby Billetz and Taylor Garabedian due to injury. Last winter, Billetz and Garabedian were key contributors for a Hoosac Valley team that went back to the state championship game.
In Thursday’s season opener, the Canes struggled with ball control in the first half against Wahconah’s aggressive full-court press.
“The first quarter, I thought we came out strong,” Hoosac Valley coach Jon Frederick said. “The girls knew they could play basketball, basically.
“But losing the two kids – they haven’t been in practice for two days – not having them in the game certainly hurt. It’s not an excuse. These kids know they can play. The first quarter, I thought we played OK. The second quarter, the pace of play killed us.”
It was 16-8 early in the second quarter after Meczywor hit a free throw.
But a Gamberoni steal led to a Gamberoni lay-up that sparked a 7-0 run, and Wahconah never looked back.
Wahconah closed the first half on an 11-1 run that featured two Wigington 3-pointers and pushed the lead to 25 points.
Hoosac Valley will look to regroup on Tuesday when it hosts Hampshire.
Wahconah hits the road on Tuesday to face Monson.
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