WORCESTER -- The Hoosac Valley girls' basketball team's postseason run came to an end with a 52-32 loss to Nashoba Regional High School on Monday night at the DCU Center.
The Hurricanes ran into a tall, quick Nashoba team that used the Hurricanes' own defense against them in the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association Division II state semifinal.
"I thought they beat us at our own game getting up and down the court in transition tonight," coach Ron Wojcik said. "They moved the ball well against our pressure. We hadn't seen anybody really be able to attack it and move the ball as well as they did tonight."
Nashoba was steady early and pulled away in the second quarter for a 27-11 lead. Hoosac Valley couldn't stage a rally early in the third to get back in the game.
"I think we came out really, really slow," Jenn Gale said. "We started to come back and bring intensity in the fourth quarter and that's what hurt us. You can't try and come back in the fourth quarter."
The Chieftains pressured the Hurricanes just as they had done throughout Berkshire County and Western Massachusetts all season to great success. Celia Burke gave Mckenzie Robinson and Madi Ryan no room to operate. The Hurricanes handled the ball well, but couldn't convert outside or inside.
Robinson opened the scoring on the first possession with a layup, but then Hoosac didn't score for the next 5:30. The Hurricanes struggled to score the rest
Gale finished with three points, all in the fourth quarter. Meg Rodowicz had eight to pace the Hoosac offense, but just one came in the second half. Emily Rosse had six.
"I haven't ran against that press in Berkshire County at all, in Western Mass. at all," Robinson said. "And they caught us off-guard, crazy off-guard."
There was no figuring out Nashoba's defense. The Chieftains bounced between a press and a 3-2 zone. The zone gave Hoosac time in the front court, but their height and long arms left no room to find anyone in the post.
That same height helped Nashoba get past Hoosac's pressure defenses.
"They didn't put the ball on the ground one time," Meg Rodowicz said. "They must have known about or press because they obviously had a play setup for it, but they did a good job breaking it."
Monday's game was the first time any Hoosac Valley girls' basketball team played in a state semifinal. The Hurricanes were awed by the size of the DCU Center and overwhelmed by the magnitude of the game.
With three seniors on the roster, the majority of the team will be back next year. This game offers a great deal of experience for a team that had already gained more than ever.
"I honestly take away hard work pays off. No one in a million years thought we'd come this far, and we pulled it off," Robinson said. "Our seven seed in Western Mass. came through, won huge against a really good team and then came to play in states. I know we lost and they're a really good team, but ... I have no regrets at all.
"It hurts. It's always going to hurt. ... But it's not the ride home from Mahar last year where we're all balling our eyes out the whole way home. ... We are getting on this bus with smiles on our face and we're not going to put our heads down."
For the seniors, they end their careers as the first group of Hurricanes to go out as Western Mass. champs.
"It was a great experience to be able to play here and be able to win Western Mass.," an emotional Celina Sistrunk said. "I just wished we would have made it to the state [final]. We could have made it to the states."
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