CHESHIRE -- When the Hoosac Valley girls' basketball team took the No. 1 seed to double overtime in its own building last year, it was evident the Hurricanes were on to something.
Then coach Ron Wojcik threw his team a curveball by opting for a new defense.
"I thought with what we did last year, the one thing I didn't like about it was when we weren't scoring ... we weren't able to set that [defense] up," he said. "What we're running this year, we're able to set up on every possession. So even on a miss, Meg [Rodowicz] or whoever our point person is can pick up the ball right away."
The switch could have swung to the negative or the positive. The Hurricanes had already entrusted in their coach, so it was an easy sell.
"We were ready to take on whatever he had for us because we're ready to advance or change whatever we have to to win," junior Jenn Gale said.
The Hurricanes ran a full-court press last year, but did away with it in favor of a trap defense this season. It's a defense that thrives with high intensity and forces the opposition's best ball handler to pass early.
The down side is it's a tremendous amount of running. In order to execute the defense perfectly, a team needs to have faith in its bench players.
"We felt we had 10, 12 kids in the program that could run and play and get minutes," Wojcik said. "This was an opportunity to do that with what we're playing."
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So after 10 weeks of running the trap every day, how is it the Hurricanes have ant energy left?
"Just rest up and hydrate during the day," Gale said.
Wojcik said he learned the defense from a boys' basketball coach but said it works well in the girls' game because few teams have four solid ball handlers, as can often be the case in the boys' game. He also noted the physical strength difference between the two genders. The girls typically can't make the long pass to break the trap that many of the boys can.
"He's brought the boys' game into this girls' basketball game," assistant coach Stef Curry said. "That's a big transition for us."
The defense isn't a common scheme. Wojcik said he's heard other teams are having to dedicate practice time to solving Hoosac's trap, instead of working on their own systems. The latter is exactly what Hoosac has been able to do all season.
"Coach always says defense wins games, so we emphasize that all the time," senior Erika Lucia said. "We work on our defense almost all practice and then focus on offense or offense for a little bit and the rest defense."
It's a good thing because it's been an adjustment for the coaches as much as it has been for the players. Wojcik said his coaching staff is experienced with man-to-man and match-up zone defenses, not the trap.
"I think everybody now has kind of fallen in love with it," he said. "I think we're getting better understanding the rotations, and now we're seeing different ways people are attacking us. So we're working on those things too.
"It's been a learning process for everyone, but the kids have done a great job with it."