NORTH ADAMS -- Points were at a premium. The Drury and Hoosac Valley girls' basketball teams were in a dogfight late in the fourth quarter.
The Blue Devils needed a basket, trailing by two with a little more than 2 minutes to play. Danielle Racette drove down the right lane and kicked the ball to Megan Benoit in the corner. The junior had just a pair of baskets -- both in the first half -- until that point.
"We know if we design a play for her [late in a game], she's going to shoot it with confidence," coach John Franzoni said. "That's what you want at that stage in the game."
Benoit didn't begin the season in the starting five. She was one of the first reserves off the bench last year and was going to be in that role again. She was supposed to come in and be instant offense for the Blue Devils. But then shooting guard Morgan Lamarre suffered a concussion in the opener.
It was Benoit's opportunity to show she belonged on the court.
"I'm valuing [my starting time] a lot," she said. "I know when Morg comes back, she's going to probably come back in and play hard. ... I just have to keep working hard and keep up what I'm doing."
Four games into her starting role, she's been more than a fill-in. She's averaging seven points and a 3-pointer per game on a team that likes to drive and use its height inside. The offense she was originally counted on to insert at certain points throughout the game has become a game-long attribute.
She has the confidence in her shot to continually call for it, whether it's with a quick call "Outside", a clap of the hands or raising a hand to say "I'm open" in transition.
"That's important because sometimes as the point guard, you got a lot of options coming down the lane," senior Danielle Racette said. "You need to know where [the players] are, and if she's feeling confident out there and she's got her feet set, there's no reason not to give her the ball."
Her season-high point total came against Lee in the opening round of the Gene Wein Tournament. It was the first game since Lamarre's injury. Benoit finished with nine points, just one off Ali Tatro's team-high 10, and she also had one of her five 3-pointers on the season.
"She's the best shooter on our team, no doubt," Racette said. "She's a knock-down shooter. She has a lot of confidence in her shot, and I think we need that."
Franzoni and the Blue Devils knew Benoit possessed the offensive talents to play, but needed to sharpen her defensive ones. You can't be a one-way player on a Drury team.
"She understands that on our team, we want her to score, but you got to be good on both ends of the court," Franzoni said. "Obviously we buy into our defense."
Franzoni pointed to the Hoosac game, noting her eight rebounds in the game against a team with good size inside. She's averaged five per game since taking over the starting role.
Her transition into a two-way player didn't happen by mistake. She took the time playing AAU and summer league basketball to work on her defensive talents.
"When I was a sophomore, I was slow on my feet," she said. "I knew I had to work in the offseason to become quicker and just a better defensive player."
Her coach and teammates have seen the improvement.
"Her hard work has really paid of," Franzoni said. "She's really improved defensively."
But when ever anyone talks about Benoit, the first words that come to mind are about her shooting ability.
"She always makes sure she's ready to shoot," senior Ali Tatro said. "She does a good job of getting herself open and just always being ready to shoot and just having the mentality that she knows she has to shoot. She just gets ready."
Said Franzoni, "We have players that can shoot the basketball and she is obviously at the top of that last because of her hard work."
While her progress on the defensive end has made her more reliable and versatile, it's all about the shot.
When all else fails, she'll always have the confidence to make the shot. Just like she did in the final minutes against Hoosac to give her team the lead. It was a lead the Blue Devils never relinquished and gave them a win over their arch rival.
"We always talk about kids being prepared before they get the basketball, how they're going to score," Franzoni said. "If you watch her, she's always ready. Her feet are balanced and she's ready. If they give her an inch, she's going to shoot it."
The essentials ...
Who: Wahconah at Drury
What: The Transcript's Game of the Week
Where: Drury High School
When: Tonight, 7:30
Coverage: The Transcripts' sports staff will be on hand to live-blog the game. Follow along at