Inspired by Mason, Wahconah Blasts Littleton

By Stephen Sports
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – For one member of the Wahconah girls basketball team, the road to the Final Four game featured a major detour.
But Olivia Mason made it worth the trip.
“I don’t need to give a pregame talk when Olivia Mason did what she just did,” Wahconah coach Liz Kay said after an 86-35 win over Littleton in the Division 4 State Semi-Finals. “She broke her nose on Friday night in three places. And they cracked it back into place. She refused to leave until the game was over, there was blood all over her. She goes to the hospital, there all night.
“Comes back this morning, drives to Franklin, Mass., to pick up a mask. Picks up the mask, drives back, shows up and starts the game.
“So my pregame talk was two minutes. And I said, if you need a storyline, that’s what it is. They know it, they bought in, and it was awesome.”
Grace Wigington scored 24 points to lead four Wahconah players in double figures. Olivia Gamberoni scored 20 to go with five steals and three assists. Madison McCarthy and Ava Massaro scored 15 and 12, respectively.
Emma Belcher passed out seven assists as No. 3 Wahconah (22-3) won its 14th game and advanced to the D4 final against top-seeded Cathedral of Boston (19-3), a 60-43 winner over Notre Dame of Worcester on Wednesday night.
Seventh-seeded Littleton was able to stay with Wahconah through half the first quarter of their semi-final.
Olivia Olson scored in the post to get the Tigers within a point at 7-6.
But at the other end, Wahconah responded – not with points from Wigington or Gamberoni, who average 19 and 18 points per game, respectively – but from Massaro, who knocked down a 3-pointer to ignite a 10-0 run to the end of the quarter.
“She actually has had a couple of games where she has done that,” Kay said of Massaro. “Including one big one in the Western Mass finals. She made a shot that was key in that stretch. So, in some ways, I’m not really surprised. She’s a junior who missed a year, came back, and she’s been really important for us.”
Gamberoni capped the run with five straight points, including a 3-pointer to make it 17-6. Early in the second quarter, she scored in transition to push the margin to 11 points at 23-12, and Millis never got within single digits again.
That basket started a 26-3 run that spanned the second and third quarters and ended with five straight points from Wigington, including one of her six 3-pointers.
Although she and Gamberoni led Wahconah’s offense, the team got points from nine of its 11 players in recording its season-high point total.
“When you have Maddie McCarthy hitting shots and Sophia Drury hitting shots and Mason making a shot, it’s so much harder [for opponents] to come out on everybody,” Kay said. “Because those kids are told, and I don’t blame them, because Gamberoni and Grace carried us so much – but then, all of a sudden, you can’t come out as much, a lane opens up, and we’ve got all kinds of opportunities in there.”
Wahconah will meet Cathedral on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. at Lowell’s Tsongas Center. It will be the first time in 21 years that Wahconah has played in a state title game.
“I can’t even believe it,” senior captain Belcher said. “It means that we can create a legacy. We can do what other people have always dreamed of doing.”
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