PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Despite a 5-12 record, the Taconic girls basketball team entered Monday’s Class C Western Massachusetts quarter-final in decent shape as far as the state tournament was concerned.
But coming off a five-game losing streak against a rugged schedule, the Thunder needed a lift.
Alex Hudson was up to the task.
Hudson hit seven 3-pointers on her way to a 26-point night Monday to lead fourth-seeded Taconic to a 66-39 win over Renaissance in the quarter-finals.
“It felt good, honestly,” Hudson said. “My last game, I didn’t really shoot that well. It felt good to actually shoot pretty well tonight.”
As a team, Taconic made 12 triples and had its best offensive night of the season as it improved to 6-12 and set up a date in the semi-finals against top-seeded Springfield International Charter, a 67-24 winner over St. Mary’s of Westfield on Monday.
Hudson may have been thinking about her shooting woes the last time out, but Thunder coach Matt Mickle had no doubts about the team’s top scorer and top 3-point shooter.
“She’s got the green light,” Mickle said. “We’ve told her all year, ‘If you’ve got the shot, you’re taking the shot.’ There’s no thinking, there’s none of that.
“The last month or so, she’s really taken that on. Early in the year, if she missed a few, she’d hesitate. And I said, ‘I don’t care if you miss 10 of them, I want you to keep shooting.’ “
Taconic put the game away early.
A putback by Brenna McNeice (14 rebounds) started a 21-2 run to open the game. Hudson capped the run with her fourth 3-pointer of the first quarter to put her team up by 19.
The Phoenix cut that margin down to 11 early in the second, but Taconic went on a 16-1 run to put the game out of reach before half-time.
Jalisa Jessup (13 points) scored six points in the run, which also saw Ahna Balcom (14 points, 12 rebounds) knock down one of her two 3-pointers.
Taconic was up by 24 points at half-time and ran that lead to 38 by the end of the third quarter when Hudson was fouled on a 3 and made all three of her free throws to make it 59-21.
Renaissance finally made things look a little more respectable in the fourth, when C’Niyiah Hines scored six of her 18 points.
No matter what happens in the semis against a Bulldog team currently ranked second in Division 5, Mickle was glad to see his 17th-ranked Thunder get a positive result in its gym.
“We play in a brutal league,” he said. “We’ve got a brutal [independent] schedule on top of the league. And I think we’re a better team than our record shows. Unfortunately, we’re playing teams that are better than us.
“It’s nice to play a game like this, but we’re going to have our hands full and more, most likely, when we see [Springfield International Charter].”