NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- Freshman Macey Tatro scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds Tuesday to lead the McCann Tech girls basketball team to its fourth straight win, a 42-29 decision over Easthampton.
The victory kept the Hornets (9-8) in first place in the Franklin West conference and was a coming out of sorts for the 5-foot-9 pivot, who came in averaging fewer than four points per game.
McCann Tech coach Kathy Budaj said she was expecting a breakout performance from Tatro.
“She did a great job,” Budaj said. “This is the best game she’s had. We’ve been talking about her being solid but not committing the not-so-smart foul. She’s a freshman. It’s going to happen. But she did a great job tonight.
“We see it in practice. She’s young, so it’s about getting that whole mentality and feeling comfortable. And she stepped into that role tonight and did a good job. I hope this leads to more.”
Izzy LaCasse scored 14 points, and Kaylee Tatro had six points and nine rebounds playing through foul trouble.
McCann Tech set the tone right out of the gate when Kaylee Tatro stole the ball and went the other way for a lay-in to give the Hornets a 4-2 lead that they never relinquished.
The Hornets’ full-court press gave the Eagles fits in the first quarter, allowing the hosts to take a 15-8 lead after back-to-back buckets by LaCasse at the end of the period.
“Defensively, I can’t say enough,” Budaj said. “These guys played a great defensive game tonight, which led to some really good offense.
“A lot of people made a lot of big plays. Kaeli Dean (five rebounds) made some really good plays. She got a lot of boards. Macey Tatro. Addie Hayer. Kaylee Tatro. They worked hard.”
One player who could not contribute was Grace Towler, who averages 10 points per game but did not dress on Tuesday night.
“Missing Grace tonight, I said to them, we need that spark,” Budaj said. “Grace is a spark for us, and who’s gonna step up. I think a lot of people stepped up tonight, and I hope we can continue that.”
It was a six-point game late in the second quarter before the Hornets closed on a 6-0 run to lead by double digits in the locker room.
First, Macey Tatro put back an offensive rebound. Then LaCasse made a steal and went the other way for a lay-up. Finally, LaCasse hit Madison Clark with a pass in the post, and Clark converted to make it 26-14.
The Eagles hung around in the second half, keeping it within 10 and cutting the lead to single digits when Nessrine Bentley-El Ahmar hit a runner in the lane to make it 38-29 with four minutes left to play.
But McCann Tech’s defense did not allow another point the rest of the way. And when Macey Tatro scored in the post with 1:22 left to make it 40-29, all hope for an Easthampton (10-7) comeback was lost.
The Hornets carry a lot of momentum into Friday’s home finale against Pope Francis as they look to get their 10th win and take another step toward a league title.
Budaj knew going into Tuesday night’s game just how big it was for her squad.
“It was a critical game,” she said. “We talked about that yesterday at practice. [Easthampton] beat Pope Francis. These guys beat Smith Academy. We said: You can’t come in here and take anything lightly. They’re a good team. They made the tournament in the Division 3 bracket.
“We need to go out and play our basketball. When we we play our basketball, good things will happen. And it did.”