Hoosac crashes Wave’s party

  • Greenfield's Katie Haselton (4) dives for a loose ball between Hoosac defenders Riley Robinson (20), left, and Shaleigh Levesque (12) in the third quarter of the WMass Div. 3 championship game Saturday at the Curry Hicks Cage on the UMass campus in Amherst. No. 2 Hoosac won its sixth title in seven years with a 56-46 win over the third-seeded Green Wave. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Bryanna Rivera (1) goes in for a layup past Hoosac defender Riley Robinson (2) during the fourth quarter of their WMass Div. 3 championship game Saturday at the Curry Hicks Cage on the UMass campus in Amherst. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Raegan Hickey (5), middle, drives to the hoop between Hoosac defenders Shaleigh Levesque (12), right, and Alison Mendel (23) during the first quarter of their WMass Div. 3 championship game Saturday at the Curry Hicks Cage on the UMass campus in Amherst. Staff Photo/Dan Little—

  • Greenfield head coach John Hickey comforts his players Raegan Hickey, right, and Sam Smith after their WMass Div. 3 championship loss to Hoosac on Saturday at the Curry Hicks Cage on the UMass campus in Amherst. Staff Photo/Dan Little—

  • Greenfield's Olivia Joy reacts after walking off the court during their WMass Div. 3 championship loss to Hoosac on Saturday at the Curry Hicks Cage on the UMass campus in Amherst. Staff Photo/Dan Little—

  • Greenfield's Raegan Hickey (5) puts up a shot past Hoosac defender Riley Robinson (20) in the second quarter of the WMass Div. 3 championship on Saturday at the Curry Hicks Cage on the UMass campus in Amherst. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Sam Smith (32) puts up a shot over Hoosac defender Riley Robinson (20) in the second quarter of the WMass Div. 3 championship on Saturday at the Curry Hicks Cage on the UMass campus in Amherst. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Sam Smith (32) puts in a reverse layup over Hoosac defender Riley Robinson (20) in the fourth quarter of the WMass Div. 3 championship on Saturday at the Curry Hicks Cage on the UMass campus in Amherst. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Katie Haselton (4), left, goes up for a layup past Hoosac defender Riley Robinson (20) in the third quarter of the WMass Div. 3 championship on Saturday at the Curry Hicks Cage on the UMass campus in Amherst. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Sam Smith (32) breaks up the court against Hoosac in the second quarter of the WMass Div. 3 championship on Saturday at the Curry Hicks Cage on the UMass campus in Amherst. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Katie Haselton (4), left, drives to the hoop past Hoosac defender Alexandria Mercier (10) in the third quarter of the WMass Div. 3 championship on Saturday at the Curry Hicks Cage on the UMass campus in Amherst. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Raegan Hickey (5) drives down the court guarded by Hoosac's Shaleigh Levesque (12) in the fourth quarter of the WMass Div. 3 championship on Saturday at the Curry Hicks Cage on the UMass campus in Amherst. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Racquel Provost (2), left, receives a pass from Raegan Hickey (5) in the fourth quarter of the WMass Div. 3 championship on Saturday at the Curry Hicks Cage on the UMass campus in Amherst. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Olivia Joy (10), right, fights for possession against Hoosac's Lexi Mercier (10) in the fourth quarter of the WMass Div. 3 championship on Saturday at the Curry Hicks Cage on the UMass campus in Amherst. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Sam Smith (32), left, drives past Hoosac defender Sarah Field in the fourth quarter of the WMass Div. 3 championship on Saturday at the Curry Hicks Cage on the UMass campus in Amherst. Staff Photo/Dan Little

Staff Writer
Published: 3/9/2019 5:00:51 PM

AMHERST — Every gleam of light, every sliver of an opening vanished just as quickly as it appeared.

There’s a reason Hoosac Valley High School has a seemingly permanent seat at the Division 3 table.

The second-seeded Hurricanes hit nine 3-pointers, the majority coming in timely scenarios, and their stout defensive effort made life difficult for No. 4 Greenfield. Lexi Mercier scored 21 points and Alie Mendel added 14 as Hoosac knocked off the Green Wave, 56-46, to capture the WMass Div. 3 championship Saturday at Curry Hicks Cage on the campus of UMass.

It was the sixth WMass title in seven years for Hoosac (19-4), which will play central Mass. champion Millis High School in the state semifinal Tuesday night at American International College in Springfield (5:30 p.m.).

“I’m proud of the fact that I feel we took them right down to the wire, honestly,” Greenfield head coach John Hickey said. “We were saying all week, we weren’t worried about their offense, we knew they were going to score. We were more worried about our offense. Could we get any kind of rhythm or flow to score the ball? We just never really did the whole night.”

Greenfield (19-4), which played in just its second WMass final ever and first since 1990, found itself behind the eight-ball almost immediately. Just 32 seconds into the game, senior Samantha Smith, the team’s leading scorer, was whistled for a foul. Four seconds later, disaster struck. Smith was called for a second foul, a mere 36 seconds into the opening quarter, and was forced to sit the rest of the frame as a result.

“That’s the worst case scenario for a coach. It’s a nightmare, really,” Hickey said.

Hoosac head coach Ron Wojcik said attacking Smith was a sizable part of his team’s game plan, though even he didn’t expect to reap the benefits so quickly.

“I told the girls, go at (Smith), see what happens,” began Wojcik. “If she swats the first couple attempts, OK, back out and we’ll lay off a bit. You never know what kind of game the officials are going to call.”

With Smith out of the lineup, Greenfield managed to weather the storm for the most part. Racquel Provost sank a pair of hoops and Katie Haselton drilled a 3-pointer to stake the Wave to a quick 9-5 advantage.

Hoosac answered with a 10-1 run, but a Kristina Reed layup at the buzzer had Greenfield down just 15-12 at the end of one.

“We did survive but who knows what would’ve happened had she stayed in,” Hickey said of Smith’s absence, which lasted for 7:24 of game time. “You don’t know. But obviously we’re a much better team with her on the floor.”

From there, the Hurricanes led throughout but never by an insurmountable margin. Greenfield did a nice job of breaking pressure, but offense proved hard to come by at times. Most of the team’s baskets came on broken plays. But despite the adversity in the opening half, Raegan Hickey’s late hoop had the Wave within 26-22 at intermission.

“We handled their pressure but we didn’t score off it,” admitted Coach Hickey. “We got the ball across halfcourt but they pressured the whole way. It’s not easy to play against. When you don’t see that at all the whole year and then you run into it one time, it’s not easy to prepare for it and it’s not easy to handle in the moment.”

Greenfield’s initial burst out of the locker room was strong, with Smith and Hickey scoring back-to-back hoops to get the Wave within 28-26 with 5:30 remaining in the third. That would be as close as they would get the rest of the way, however. The jump shots weren’t falling, and Hoosac did a nice job on the boards following misses. The result was a multitude of one-and-dones, with the Hurricanes able to slowly build a lead.

“It was our offense more than our defense,” Hickey said. “We had possessions where if we scored we would’ve cut into or taken the lead. We couldn’t get a good flow going on offense and that’s mainly because of their pressuring defense. You see that the whole game, but it’s not easy to combat. We didn’t get good offensive looks. We played more defense than offense and that expends a lot of energy.”

The Hurricanes answered with a 7-0 run, mostly from the free throw line, before Hickey stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer to make it a 35-29 game with 2:15 remaining. Haselton sank a pair of free throws in the waning seconds of the third, keeping the Wave within striking distance down 38-33 entering the fourth.

Like it has all season, Hoosac put things out of reach from the outside. Shayleigh Levesque hit a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter, and Mercier sank two 3s less than a minute apart. She added a runner to extend the lead to 49-36 with 3:30 remaining in regulation.

In addition to the timely baskets, it was the work of the Hurricanes defense that also propelled them into a double-digit advantage. A Haselton 3-pointer represented the only Greenfield points in the fourth over a span of nearly five minutes, until Smith put home an old-fashioned three-point play with 3:06 remaining.

“They key was we made a few stops in the fourth quarter and we were able to finish on the other end,” Wojcik said. “I’ve got experienced kids. Alie and Lexi have played in two state finals. They’ve been in big spots before.”

Smith added another hoop – she finished with seven of her 15 points in the final quarter – to pull the Wave within 49-41 with 2:25 remaining, but Hoosac made its free throw shots down the stretch to keep the Hurricanes at arms’ length. Haselton’s 3-pointer with 1:03 to go cut the deficit to seven points, but with Hickey on the bench after fouling out with 1:15 remaining, Greenfield didn’t have quite enough firepower to climb back late.

The Wave ‘Big 3’ of Smith, Hickey and Haselton combined for 40 of the team’s 46 points. Smith and Haselton had 15 apiece, with Hickey joining them in double figures with 10.

“They’ve got three great players and we prepared for it as playing against three 1,000-point scorers because they’ve already got two and Haselton is going to be there next year,” Wojcik said. “You aren’t going to stop all three of them, so we wanted to focus on taking away Smith inside and try and take away some of their transition game.”

Mercier scored 12 of her 21 points in the fourth quarter, including a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe.

“Give my girls credit, I thought they handled it well just shots didn’t fall and things didn’t go our way at times,” offered Hickey. “That’s the game. It just wasn’t in the cards today, I guess.”

Greenfield falls to 0-2 all-time in WMass title games, though Saturday’s loss was far more competitive than when the Wave lost in 1990 to Southwick by a 65-34 margin.

“It means a lot to get here,” said Hickey. “It’s very rewarding. I’m very proud of the girls. It’s been an act in progress over the last few years. Would’ve been nice to win it. It’s gonna sting, it’s gonna hurt the next few weeks. But we got here. We played hard, just didn’t go our way. As a coach, that’s all you can ask for, the kids playing hard.”

Hickey’s 10 points gave her a final career and school-record total of 1,522.

Hoosac Valley 56, Greenfield 46

Greenfield (46)

Provost 2-0—4, Haselton 5-2—15, Hickey 4-1—10, Reed 1-0—2, Smith 7-1—15, Rivera, Kuchieski, Richardson, Joy. Totals 19-4--46.

Hoosac Valley (56)

Canales 1-0—3, Mercier 7-4—21, Levesque 1-0—3, Robinson 2-1—7, Mendel 2-9—14, Field 3-1—8. Totals: 16-15--56.

3-Point Goals: (G) Haselton 3, Hickey. (HV) Mercier 3, Robinson 2, Canales, Levesque, Mendel, Field.

Score by quarters:

Greenfield

12

10

11

13

46

Hoosac Valley

15

11

12

18

56




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