NORTH ADAMS - Three straight trips to the quarterfinals. Three trips home.
That was the story for the Drury girls' basketball team in the past three seasons. The Blue Devils put an end to that unwanted tradition Friday night. All three seniors played big roles in the 54-51 win over South Hadley.
Danielle Racette had a game-high 17 points. Fellow senior Ali Tatro chipped in 13 points, and Shannon Garvey had 12, including the game-winning shot.
The Blue Devils advanced to the Curry Hicks Cage for theWestern Massachusetts Division II semifinal for the first time since 2007.
"We've been in [the quarterfinals] three years in a row," senior Ali Tatro said. "It's finally nice to be able to get to the Cage."
The No. 1 seeded Blue Devils received a bit of a scare from No. 8 South Hadley. The Blue Devils allowed just 34.5 points per game this season, and the high-scoring Tigers challenged that. South Hadley scored 16 points in the fourth quarter and even had a lead with three minutes to play.
It looked like for the fourth straight season the Blue Devils would be heading home early.
Racette then turned in two of the game's biggest plays notching a 3-pointer to tie the game and then swatting away a last-second 3point attempt that would have tied it. Garvey hit the game-winner about 45 seconds later.
"We've made it to the tournament every year I've been on varsity," Racette said following the victory. "We've lost every year
Last season, Drury was the No. 3 seed and lost to No. 6 Athol in the quarterfinals. In 2011, Drury topped South Hadley in the first round before being tossed by Wahconah in the quarterfinals - Thursday's semifinal opponent. In 2010, it was another county foe who spoiled the fun. Monument Mountain topped the Blue Devils in overtime. Drury also lost in the quarters in 2009.
"It was a great feeling, I was really excited," said junior Morgan Lamarre, who has played on the varsity team since her eighth grade season. "This group of girls is really special. We've been playing together so long that I think we deserved it."
The Blue Devils will now take on a familiar opponent in the semifinal. The Blue Devils and Warriors have gotten together three times this season, Drury came out on top in two of those contests.
"It feels really good to get there," Garvey said. "I've been on the team since freshman year and we've never made it this far."
When the Blue Devils hit the court on Thursday, the atmosphere shouldn't bother them. The Bucky Bullet Gymnasium at Drury High School had a championship feel to it Friday night.
"I kind of felt famous because of the amount of cheering," Tatro recalled. "We couldn't even hear coach yelling out the defenses because the crowd was so loud.
"We've always wanted to make it [to the Cage], just to have the experience of going there. We have a lot of fans going there to help cheer us on and really keep the same energy going that we had [at Drury] on Friday."
The Blue Devils pushed their way through Berkshire County this year en route to the No. 1 seed in the tournament.
Drury's only blemishes came to Lee, Pittsfield and Wahconah. All three of those losses were avenged later in the season as part of Drury's nine-game winning streak.
"I think of how much [this senior class] has accomplished during their time here, and [going to the Cage] was the one thing that they had left on their list," Drury coach John Franzoni said. "To earn that No. 1 seed, it was a nice reward for what they have accomplished during the season and how hard they had worked for the last three or four years."