CHESHIRE -- Down 15 points after one quarter can be a daunting task to overcome. Typically, teams try to chip away throughout the course of the game. That wasn't the Hoosac Valley girls' basketball team's first choice, and it didn't need a second.
The Hurricanes came out of the one-minute break before the second quarter with something to prove. They did, and then some. Twenty-two points in eight minutes will do that. Better yet, the defense was suffocating Lenox's offense, allowing just three points in the frame. Hoosac used that run to fuel a 47-35 win over South County rival Lenox on Tuesday night.
"We have a really intense defense where we're just all up in their face," Jen Gale said. "We came out [in the second quarter] really relaxed, and it just changed after that when we finally figured we can play with these guys."
The 22-3 run the Hurricanes started in the second quarter carried right through halftime and into the third quarter. Hoosac stretched it to a 34-7 run late in the third quarter when Amber Lesure converted an easy layup in transition.
"Was it really?" coach Ron Wojcik asked shockingly of the run. "Lenox is an excellent basketball team. ... For us to get that kind of run against that team, that's outstanding. I couldn't be prouder of the girls for their effort."
The Hurricanes have been honing their half-court press since early December, and showed just how deadly they can be with it.
As soon as a Lenox player crossed center court, a Hoosac defender was in her face. Make a pass and two Hoosac defenders flock to the ball. The Hurricanes forced the Millionaires to quicken the decision making and it led to turnover after turnover, which gave the Hurricanes a lot of transition baskets.
"Half-court [press], it's all about talking. We don't really have positions. When the ball gets passed, its trap. You need to trap, two people need to trap. Then you need to read the first pass, that's it," Mckenzie Robinson said. "There's no special weapon or anything. You need to work and you need to talk. If you don't talk, it's going to fall apart."
Meg Rodowicz started the run with a 3-pointer from the corner. Amber Lesure closed the gap to 18-14 with a transition layup before Liz Mitts made a free throw to get Lenox's first point of the quarter with about 4 minutes left in the half.
It wasn't enough to spark the Lenox offense, as the Hoosac defense kept pressuring and soon the Hurricanes were leading, despite all their starters sitting on the bench.
Erika Lucia's jumper with 2:21 left in the first half tied the game 19-19, and Lesure gave Hoosac the lead with a 3-pointer from the left corner. Hoosac had outscored Lenox 19-1 at that point
"The second unit, they were phenomenal with [the press]," Wojcik said. "I really thought that was the difference."
For everything Lenox was making in the first quarter, it couldn't buy a basket on an open look the rest of the game. The Millionaires have the press to thank for that.
"What you're trying to do is force them to play at a pace that they're really not used to," Wojcik said. "I thought that started to happen because in the second quarter, they had a couple wide open layups and all of a sudden girls are starting to travel in the corner."
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