It's been a long time since the Hoosac Valley and Drury rivalry meant this much.
It doesn't get more important than Saturday's Western Massachusetts Division II championship game between the girls' teams.
Drury and Hoosac Valley will square off at 2:15 p.m. for a shot at the title. As defenses go, it doesn't get much stingier than the Blue Devils and Hurricanes.
The No. 1 Blue Devils gave up an average of 34.5 points per game in the regular season. In two postseason wins, Drury has given up 51 and 37 points. The No. 7 Hurricanes held opponents to an average of 33.8 points in the regular season. They have played three playoff games, giving up 36, 61 and 37 points. The 61 was in double overtime.
"The key for us is always the same, we are going to defend," Drury coach John Franzoni said. "Hoosac scored 57 points [in its semifinal win], that was a good performance. But, they haven't scored 57 on our defense."
Drury got the better of its rival in both meetings this season. On Dec. 19, Drury escaped Cheshire with a 35-28 win. A month later, the Blue Devils beat Hoosac 59-38.
"Drury's a great basketball team," Hoosac Valley coach Ron Wojcik said. "We played them tough the first time. The second time, they took it to us pretty good. But we feel we're playing very well right now and we can give them a good go."
The similarities don't stop at defenses for these two squads. The reserve players for both
Drury's leading scorer, Shannon Garvey, averaged 12.5 points per game. Hoosac's leading scorer, Emily Rosse, averaged 11.6.
"We know them very well, so it will be a lot of fun Saturday," Franzoni said. "They do a very good job of pressure."
The Blue Devils will be without junior captain Morgan Lamarre. She suffered a shoulder injury in the team's 51-37 semifinal victory over No. 4 Wahconah.
Megan Benoit will take her place in the starting lineup. Benoit started nine games earlier in the season, while Lamarre was out with a concussion.
The Hurricanes aren't afraid to shoot the long shots either. Led by Jenn Gale's 38, Hoosac shot 109 3-pointers on the season. Drury plays more of an inside game, but will also step out to shoot the 12- to 16-foot jumpers.
The key for both teams will be to keep the emotions in check. A rivalry game can be tough to do that, for some.
"I mean you can sit here and be like ‘Yeah, this is a big game. You [have] to worry about it,' " Hoosac's Tori Rumbolt said. "But to me, to our team, it's another game. We're trying not to overthink it, worry about it, be scared. It's just another game."