Sprague's Block Clinches Win over Pittsfield

By Ryan HolmesiBerkshires.com
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Katherine Lewis and Maddie Sprague combined to score 12 points against the Pittsfield girls' basketball team on Monday night. It was the two points they didn't allow to be scored on them that mattered the most, however, in Wahconah's 36-35 road win over the Generals on Senior Night. 

Lewis (seven points) scored what turned out to be the game-winning basket off of a putback of her own missed shot with over two minutes left to play. She then made up for one of the Warriors' 27 turnovers in the game by blocking Courtney McLaughlin's shot in the paint after the Pittsfield guard stole an inbounds pass with 35 seconds left on the clock. McLaughlin, who led the Generals with 14 points, had one last chance to win the game, but Sprague turned away her baseline attempt and grabbed the rebound as time expired. 

Wahconah could not have asked for a bigger win at a better time, helping June Blake's squad even its record at 8-8 with four games left to play. The Warriors snapped Pittsfield's five-game win streak in the process, holding the Generals (12-5) to their second lowest point total of the year while also avenging a 10-point defeat to them back in late December.

"We had five games left, and we were looking at it as taking one game at a time and really work for everything," Wahconah senior Gabby Lavinio said of team's mindset coming into Monday's game. "Every second of every game, we just really want to work our hardest. We just want to work together and keep going for it.

"We worked so hard for it all game [tonight]. It's just great to have Maddie come up big like that. It was just really great to see." 

Lavinio, who led all scorers with 16 points to go along with eight rebounds, was one of the few players to find an offensive rhythm on the night. The senior guard scored seven of her 11 first-half points in the second quarter, helping the Warriors take advantage of early Pittsfield foul trouble to earn a slim 21-20 lead at halftime. McLaughlin also started the game strong, scoring nine of her 14 points in the first quarter alone. The teams traded blows in the first half, as Wahconah held a big 24-10 edge in rebounding, while the Generals answered back with a 14-6 advantage in turnovers. 

"I thought we did a great job tonight of gutting it out," Blake said. "One of the things we focused on tonight was controlling the boards. I think it got away from us a little bit in the third quarter, but we were able to gather it back in the fourth quarter. I thought despite committing almost 30 turnovers, we did a great job of not letting them capitalize on those turnovers. I'm proud of every single one of these ladies. They were a couple of series in the fourth quarter where we gave them three opportunities.

"To play defense for 60 seconds is hard to do, but they definitely buckled down and we did what we had to do to win the game." 


Gabby Lavinio led Wahconah with 16 points. See more photos here.

A key moment in the game came at the start of the third quarter when the Warriors opened up the second half on a 10-2 run. Sprague, who was a force on the glass with a game-high 13 rebounds, and senior Shannon Lussier both hit inside shots, while Lewis and Lavinio each knocked down a 3-pointer to give the visitors a 31-22 lead.

Pittsfield head coach Joe Racicot didn't like what he saw out of his starters, so he gave them a three-minute break in the middle of the quarter to help them clear their heads. Once Racicot put his starters back in, they responded with some tough full-court pressure that led to three easy baskets and a 31-28 deficit heading into the final quarter. 

"I thought our bench did a good job keeping us in the game once again," Racicot said. "You just have to give Wahconah credit. They held on when they had to, and we had some good looks at the basket but didn't put it in. We were only 3 of 8 from the foul line, so that didn't help either." 

Unlike last week's victory over Hoosac Valley, the Generals' starters weren't able to pull away in the fourth quarter like they did with a 17-6 run against the Hurricanes. Pittsfield did manage to rally back to take the lead, using a runner by Dominique Satrape, a three from the top of the key from McLaughlin and a fast-break lay-in from forward Lauren Carnevale with 3:35 left on the game clock. The hosts never scored again from that point, however, and only managed 15 second-half points despite forcing Wahconah into 13 turnovers over the final two quarters. 

"We forced almost 30 turnovers, but it only got us 14 for 60 something [from the floor]," Racicot said. "We did a lot of things good, but we didn't reward ourselves for our work by scoring more baskets." 

Give the Wahconah defense it's due. The trio of Satrape, Carnevale and center Rachael Hunt (team-high seven rebounds) usually averages just under 20 points combined but was held to just eight points total on Monday night. McLaughlin got the better of the Warriors early on, but the visitors were there to make the plays when they needed to down the stretch. On the final play, Racicot used two timeouts to get McLaughlin a clean look in the low post. The ball came to her on the right block, where she used a head fake to try and set up a turnaround shot.

Sprague came with some great help defense, however, giving Wahconah some new life in its quest for a postseason berth. 

"We've got to win two more games," Lavinio said. "Like I said, we're going to take it one game at a time, and we have two more games the rest of the week. Hopefully, we'll make the tournament by the end of the week." 

The Warriors first play at Monument Mountain at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday in a game that was originally scheduled for Thurday. The Generals next play at Lee at the same time on Thursday night. 

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