SPRINGFIELD — Jennifer Gale had 13 points and Meg Rodowicz and Emily Rosse added 12 each to lead Hoosac Valley to its first state final appearance, after a 54-52 victory over Bellingham Tuesday at the MassMutual Center in the Division 3 girls’ state semifinal.
“I couldn’t be happier for the kids,” said Hurricanes coach Ronald Wojcik. “It’s been such a great group to work with all year.”
The Hurricanes and the Blackhawks traded points early on, but a strong second quarter, pulled the Hurricanes ahead.
The Hurricanes picked up defensively from there, while steadily adding to their lead. At the half, they held a 31-22 advantage.
It wasn’t until late in the third quarter that the Blackhawks started to climb back.
Down, 40-26, the Blackhawks began to bury shots from the perimeter, which helped them close the gap to 44-34. Bellingham’s Sabrina Ulsh led all scorers with 24.
The Blackhawks picked up where they left off in the final frame, heavily outshooting the Hurricanes. When Kristen Swain scored down low late in the game, they had closed the gap to 54-52. Michaela McTomney had a chance to tie the game with a deep field goal, but her shot hit the rim and bounced out.
With seconds remaining, the Blackhawks nearly got one more chance on a break. Rosse stole the ball with a leaping pick at center court, quashing any hopes of a comeback.
To “Blackhawk Down” chants coming from the Hoosac Valley fans, the final buzzer had sounded.
“I’m very proud of my team,” Gale said. “We didn’t give up tonight, and I’m just very, very proud of them.”
“Tonight, we kept fighting for it and we kept fighting, and we came out with a win,” added Rodowicz.
The Hurricanes will face St. Mary’s in the MIAA Division 3 state final Saturday at the DCU Center in Worcester at 10:45 a.m.