CHESHIRE -- When no starter scores in double figures in a playoff game, typically that postseason run dies. Not for the Hurricanes. Not on Tuesday night.
The Hoosac Valley girls' basketball team received standout performances from a pair of underclassmen in its Western Massachusetts first round game. Sophomore Amber Lesure and freshman Madi Ryan combined to score 21 points and fuel the No. 7 Hurricanes' 49-36 win over visiting No. 10 Palmer. Hoosac now plays at No. 2 Hampshire on Friday.
"It's amazing," Lesure said of getting the first playoff win. "I didn't play last year because I had an ankle sprain my freshman year, so it was awesome to be able to play a good game with Madi in my first."
The Hurricanes struggled to score early and found themselves with just five points almost three minutes into the game. Fortunately, they were tied.
That's when the duo came alive to score three straight baskets for the Hurricanes.
Lesure put Hoosac up with an open 3-pointer and followed it up with a drive that put the Hurricanes up five. Ryan followed up with a trey of her own with 1:10 left, and a 5-5 game turned into a 13-5 Hoosac advantage in less than two minutes.
"I just try to come in with a lot of energy and keep the scoring
Ryan added a transition 3 when she spotted up at the top of the key for a 20-7 lead midway through the second quarter. With Lesure's free throw, the two combined for 12 of Hoosac's 25 first-half points.
"It helps a lot [to have a strong bench], and that's something that we don't take for granted," Meg Rodowicz said. "It really helps because we don't have to worry about getting a lead and then losing it because the lead stays the same."
Lesure and Ryan didn't slow down much in the second half, either, and they were just as timely.
Palmer had cut a 15-point Hoosac lead to nine when Emily Czaja completed a three-point play from the line. The Panthers had the momentum, but Lesure and Ryan stole it right back.
The two made three of the Hurricanes' next four baskets to help push the lead back to 16. Lesure started the spurt with a drive to the basket and then sprung Ryan on a breakaway for a quick strike. Rodowicz chipped in with a nice back pass from Ryan, and then Ryan finished the run with a 3-pointer from the right elbow. Hoosac now back in the driver's seat with a 40-24 lead and 1:52 left in the third quarter.
"We just try our hardest and we want to prove we're a good team all together," Lesure said. "We just want to go all the way and win it all."
Lesure scored one Hoosac's two fourth-quarter baskets to give the tandem nine second-half points of the team's 24 overall.
"Amber and Madi really just came off [the bench] and generated the energy," coach Ron Wojcik said. "That whole second unit, Sydnee [Gallup], Celina [Sistrunk] and Erika [Lucia], everybody just came out and they just brought the energy."
The Hurricanes were also solid as a team on the glass. The Hurricanes pulled down 10 offensive and 10 defensive rebounds. Eight different Hurricanes registered a rebound. Emily Rosse and Celina Sistrunk led the way with four each, but the guards also got in on the action. Ryan, Jen Gale and Mckenzie Robinson combined for five.
"We work a lot on it practice, sending five to the boards, and it's more so sending people to the boards because you're not in position to really box out at that point," Wojcik said. "I thought we did a really good job getting back and coming back to the ball, even Madi Ryan two or three times came in and got the ball on the backside."