County Teams Carry Experience Into Semis
If experience is the best teacher, then Berkshire County's basketball teams are well-schooled.
Three of the four county teams still playing ball have experience against their semi-final opponents in their respective Western Massachusetts Division 3 tournaments, though the experience was a little different for each.
For the Hoosac Valley boys, a mid-January trip to second-seeded Renaissance produced Hoosac's first loss of the 2013-14 campaign and one of just six that the 'Canes suffered all season.
For the Hoosac girls, whose only loss came to a team from Ohio at a tournament in Florida, a 74-48 win in Cheshire accounted for Granby's first loss of the year and one of just two all season for the third-seeded Rams.
And for Pittsfield's girls, an early January loss to eventual top seed Longmeadow dropped the Generals to 2-4, but since then Pittsfield has won 12 of 15.
Both Hoosac teams will look to put their experience to good use on Tuesday in rematches of the Western Mass powers on the neutral court at the University of Massachusetts' Curry Hicks Cage.
The Hurricane double-header highlights the schedule for Berkshire County basketball fans, who will see four of their teams in action in sectional semi-finals over the next four nights.
The first county team on deck is the Lenox boys in Division 4. The Millionaires (16-6) were the only Berkshire County team to win on the road in the quarter-finals and carry a No. 5 seed into Monday evening's matchup with top-ranked Quaboag (20-1).
It figures to be a tall order for Lenox. Quaboag doubled up Lee in the quarter-finals, but the Millionaires also own a pair of win over the Wildcats this season.
The fourth-seeded Pittsfield girls (14-7) wait until Thursday at 6 to hit the floor in a Division 2 bracket that saw all four top seeds advance. Nos. 2 and 3, North Middlesex and Ludlow, will complete one side of the bracket on Wednesday. The next night at 6, the Generals play their rematch with Longmeadow (15-5).
Of the four county teams still alive in the tournament, only Hoosac's girls have immediate experience at the Cage, and it was the best kind -- winning the D2 sectional title and advancing to the state tournament a year ago.
Hoosac coach Ron Wojcik said last year's run will help this year's Hurricanes.
"I think it helps a lot," he said after Thursday's quarter-final win. "These girls know that they were there and know what it's
like. It's a totally different environment. The hoops are out in the middle of nowhere. It's a lot harder to shoot.
"But I think that experience will be big for these girls. The freshmen will have to get used to it, but at least they have seven girls ahead of them who have already been there."
Tuesday's opponent for the Hoosac girls, Granby, has some experience in the Cage as well. The Rams lost to eventual Western Mass champion Lee in last year's sectional semi-final.
This year's D3 semis get under way at 4:30 p.m. when Hoosac's boys look to even the score with Renaissance.
The Hoosac girls game follows at about 6 on Tuesday evening.
Hoosac Valley is running two fan buses to Amherst for the games. Non-students can pay $5 to ride along. Reservations can be made by calling the school.
Pittsfield also is running a fan bus for Thursday's D2 girls semi-final. Permission forms are due by the end of the school day on Tuesday.
Tickets to each session at the Cage are $7 for students and $10 for adults.