CHESHIRE - It's no secret the best players need to perform in the postseason for a team's success to continue. That's exactly what happened for the Hoosac Valley girls' basketball team Friday night.
Jenn Gale, Meg Rodowicz and Emily Rosse put a poor offensive game behind themselves and led the No. 7 Hurricanes past No. 2 Hampshire, 65-61 in double overtime.
"We definitely expect people to show up and just be really tough and play big," Rodowicz said before Sunday's practice.
After combining for 18 points in their first round game, Gale (2 points), Rodowicz (8) and Rosse (8) returned to form and more than tripled their collective output. Gale led the way with 22, while Rodowicz and Rosse each had 17. The trio accounted for all but nine of the team's points.
With three solid shooters, any of them can lead the offense on any given night. For 13 of the 22 games, one of the three was the leading scorer. In the four games that honor was shared, at least one of the three was at the top. Three of those four games featured two-thirds of the trio.
Rosse was the high scorer on eight different occasions and tied for the most points two more times. Gale had the high mark four times and shared it three more, all with either Rosse or Rodowicz, who paced the offense just once but shared high marks twice.
"A lot of our offense, just our motion with our flex and stuff, it's almost equal opportunity," Wojcik said. "Anybody can take a shot or get a layup at any time.
"We depend on the three of them. ... On the big stage, you need your big players to really step up."
Shooters are typically a selfish breed, but these three are an exception, and are willing to feed whoever has the hot hand. Wojcik said their willingness to let someone else take the credit has been a key factor in the team's cohesiveness and success.
"I think we have our roles. Jenn's generally our shooter, and then if Jenn's out of the game, then someone else has to step up," Rodowicz said. "But pretty much if any of us has an open shot, we'll take it. And if we're confident about it, then we'll definitely take it."
Gale was guarded closely on the outside, so she was forced to pass on 3-pointers and drive to the basket. It's something Wojcik said she's done on occasion this season, but was nice to see her do it at an important point in the biggest game of the season. She crossed 20 points for the first time this season.
"I decided to drive because I had a better chance of getting fouled and going to the foul line to make shots than I did actually of making [a 3-pointer]," she said.
Hard to argue when the junior made 10 straight foul shots through the fourth quarter and two overtime sessions.
Rodowicz has shown the ability to shoot from in tight, as well as beyond the arc. She made two 3-pointers against Hampshire. But it was her defense at the front of the press and trap that caught her coach's eye. Her pressure helped her to a season-high 17 points.
"She just was determined," Wojcik said. "I just told them as we talked as a group, I felt Meg mentally wore that team down. I felt she really did that to definitely their point guards physically, but mentally too."
As for Rosse, she returned to form in the post, but also showed an outside shooting touch. She's spent about 10 minutes prior to both playoff games shooting 3s. She made one early in the second quarter against Hampshire, but after a miss, she stepped just inside the line and sank a baseline jumper for Hoosac's final basket in regulation.
"I've been getting more confident now that I shoot it more in practice and during warm-ups," she said. "Coach said if the girl was sagging like she was the other night, to shoot the 3."
Now that Hoosac is in the final four of Western Mass., the games where the top three scorers can all have a night off and the team still wins are gone. It'll take at least two of them with a performance like Friday's to keep this ride going.
"To advance, we have to," Gale said. "But we're looking for everybody to step up and just play their game like they can."