Wave Cage drought ends tonight

  • Ann Brissette helped lead Greenfield to the biggest win in program history in 1990 when the Green Wave knocked off top-seeded and perennial powerhouse Monument Mountain, 63-61, in overtime in the WMass semifinals. Tonight, Greenfield will play its first semifinal since that game. RECORDER FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Ann Brissette didn’t know it at the time but the person swatting the ball away from her in the WMass Division II championship game in 1990 was none other than Rebecca Lobo, the future Hall of Famer who helped lead the Rams to 65-37 win that season. RECORDER FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Robyn Brokos goes hard to the hoop against Monument Mountain during the WMass Division II semifinals in 1990. RECORDER FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Above, the 1990 Greenfield starting five from left to right: Tara Jelley, Jessica Grader, Ann Brissette, Melanie Conant and Chris Attesi. At far right is coach Courtney Woodcock and assistant coach Donna Woodcock. Below, Brissette didn’t know it at the time but the person swatting the ball away from her in the 1990 WMass Division II championship game was none other than Rebecca Lobo, the future Hall of Famer who helped lead the Rams to 65-37 win. RECORDER FILE PHOTOs/PAUL FRANZ

Recorder Staff
Wednesday, March 07, 2018

You must excuse the Greenfield High School girls’ basketball team if it’s a bit excited at the opportunity to play inside Curry Hicks Cage on the campus of the University of Massachusetts in tonight’s WMass Division III semifinal game.

This sort of thing doesn’t happen every day for the Green Wave program. In fact, tonight’s 7:30 appearance against top-seeded Hampshire Regional High School (19-2) will be the first time that any girls’ basketball team from Greenfield has played at Curry Hicks Cage.

It has been nearly 30 years since the Greenfield girls were last in a WMass basketball semifinals. Their most recent appearance came in 1990 when the fourth-seeded Green Wave girls took on top-seeded Monument Mountain Regional High School in the WMass Division II semifinals. That game took place on March 6 at the now-defunct Cathedral High School in Springfield. This year’s fifth-seeded Greenfield team will hope for the similar result.

The 1990 Greenfield team fell behind by 19 points but stormed back to defeat the top-seeded Spartans, 63-61, in overtime. The headline in the next day’s Recorder read, “Greenfield surges to ‘Monumental’ upset,” which was fitting. Reporter John Giniusz summed it up perfectly by writing, “… and here was little ol’ Greenfield taking one of the baddest Division II teams in the state down to the wire. And when it was over, there was little ol’ Greenfield celebrating a 63-61 victory over the defending WMass champion, top-seeded Spartans.”

Giniusz was right about Monument being one of the “baddest” teams, which he was using the way ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith refers to Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers as a “baaaaaaaad man.” That Monument team was not only the defending WMass champion, it was the two-time defending WMass champion and two-time state runners-up. Until Greenfield knocked them off that season, the Spartans had appeared in seven consecutive WMass Division II championship games, winning four. In fact, Monument and Athol High School appeared in the WMass Division II championship game in four consecutive years, and the teams actually flip-flopped wins, as Monument won in 1984 and ’86, while Athol won in 1985 and ’87.

The Green Wave countered with a unit that included arguably two of the best female athletes to ever come out of the school in Ann Brissette and Tara Jelley. Both went on to play Division I college field hockey, as Jelley attended UMass and Brissette went to Boston College.

Greenfield entered the Monument game fresh off a 75-56 quarterfinal victory over fifth-seeded Palmer High School, but was a decided underdog. The game opened the way most likely figured it would and it continued into the second half when the Spartans held a 19-point lead (46-27) with 50 seconds to play in the third quarter. Although Monument possessed a big height advantage, it was the Green Wave’s quickness that pulled the team even by the end of regulation. Greenfield went on a 23-9 fourth-quarter scoring blitz, taking a lead with 32 seconds to play when Jelley hit a pair of free throws to go up, 55-53. Monument answered with a late hoop from Sharon Conway, and Brissette missed a shot at the buzzer to send the game into OT.

Monument scored the first six points of the extra session, but the Green Wave came back as Melanie Conant and Brissette hit consecutive 3-pointers to tie the game at 61. It was then Brissette who won it by knocking down a jump shot from just inside the foul line with 11 seconds to play. Monument had one final chance, but Cathleen Miller missed a 16-footer to send the Green Wave to the finals.

Awaiting the Green Wave was one of the best women’s basketball players to ever play the game. That would be Southwick-Tolland Regional School’s Rebecca Lobo in the championship game. Although Greenfield managed to overcome its height disadvantage against the Spartans, Lobo and the Rams proved to be too much, as the 6-foot-4, All-American, future UConn Husky, and now Hall of Fame center finished with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 3 steals to lead the Rams to a resounding, 65-34, victory.

Tonight, 28 years and two days after the upset win over Monument — which could be the biggest win in program history — the Green Wave will look to do it again with a spot in Saturday’s WMass title game on the line. The other semifinal between South Hadley High School and Wahconah Regional High School kicks off the twin bill at 6 p.m.

Let the Cage spectacle begin.