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Division 3 girls basketball: Hampshire survives, beats Greenfield in OT to reach finals

  • Hampshire's Katelyn Pickunka (12) takes a shot over Greenfield defenders Kirsten Ward (21) and Katie Haselton (4) in the third quarter, on Thursday, Mar. 8, 2018 at UMass Amherst's Curry Hicks Cage. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Hampshire's Katelyn Pickunka (12) and Lila Labrie (1) defend against Greenfield's Katie Haselton (4) in the first half, on Thursday, Mar. 8, 2018 at UMass Amherst's Curry Hicks Cage. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Hampshire’s Caroline O’Connor, left, jumps for a rebound over Greenfield’s Sam Smith, in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal, Thursday at Curry Hicks Cage. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Hampshire's Katelyn Pickunka (12) goes in for a layup defended by Greenfield's Lizzy Howland (24) in the third quarter, on Thursday, Mar. 8, 2018 at UMass Amherst's Curry Hicks Cage. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Hampshire's Maggie Rubeck (15) drives to the hoop in the third quarter against Greenfield, on Thursday, Mar. 8, 2018 at UMass Amherst's Curry Hicks Cage. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Hampshire's Katelyn Pickunka (12) defends against Greenfield's Katie Haselton (4) in the second half, on Thursday, Mar. 8, 2018 at UMass Amherst's Curry Hicks Cage. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Hampshire head coach Amy Cyr talks with her team during their game against Greenfield, on Thursday, Mar. 8, 2018 at UMass Amherst's Curry Hicks Cage. Recorder Staff/Dan Little



For the Gazette
Friday, March 09, 2018

AMHERST — Round 2 between the Hampshire Regional and Greenfield girls basketball teams didn’t disappoint.

After a clutch Maddie Pond 3-pointer, overtime heroics from Caroline O’Connor, and 26 points from Katelyn Pickunka the Raiders beat the Green Wave, 63-59, in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament semifinal, Thursday at the Curry Hicks Cage.

The trip to the finals broke an 11-year drought for top-seeded Hampshire (20-2), which will play No. 6 Wahconah (20-3) at 2:15 p.m. Saturday at the Cage.

“In the beginning of the season I was expecting us and Hoosac or maybe South Hadley in the finals,” Pickunka said. “I think we’re ready for Wahconah. We’re a hard working team and I am really proud. I think we are going to work hard tomorrow and we’ll come out Saturday prepared.”

Back in January at Springfield College’s Blake Arena, the Greenfield and Hampshire Regional girls basketball teams met for the first time. Hampshire led by 18 at halftime and by as much as 22 at one point, but the lead slip away en route to a seven-point defeat. It was one of the Raiders’ two regular season losses.

The stakes were higher Thursday and Hampshire’s coach Amy Cyr was not sure how her team would respond after the setback early in the season.

“I was apprehensive,” she said. “I didn’t know how they would come into this. If we would be nervous about the last time or excited about the last time. Our talk was this is the game that matters, let’s focus on tonight, and on these 32 minutes.”

The first half was pretty evenly contested. Greenfield came out playing a physical, ball-denying brand of defense. The Green Wave fronted Pickunka all over the court and kept two defenders in her area at all times. Still, Pickunka found her way to 10 first-half points and kept the Raiders in the game. At half, the score was deadlocked at 23.

In the third quarter Pickunka scored the first six points for Hampshire and started to open things up for herself and her teammates.

“In the third quarter we came out tied. This year my teammates have given me lots of opportunities to score,” Pickunka said. “In the first half I was hanging more around the elbow but in the second half I posted up a lot more. They all had amazing passes to me in the post that allowed me to score. It was much more of a low post game in the second half.”

Pickunka noticed how she was being guarded and adapted her style of play. “They did a pretty good job guarding me in the first half,” she said. “It was harder for them to guard me on fast breaks so I was trying to get the ball up quick on rebounds or if I stole the ball then just go for it.”

Greenfield countered with a full-court press. That limited Pickunka for the remainder of the quarter as Greenfield built a 38-34 lead entering the fourth. Neither team could create much separation for the first five minutes of the quarter. Greenfield was down by two when freshman Katie Haselton drilled a corner 3 to give them a 49-48 lead.

Moments later Katie Haselton sunk two free throws as Hampshire trailed 53-50 with 25 seconds to go. The Raiders ran an out-of-bounds play and had Pond inbound the ball. She passed it in, curled around a screen, and got the ball back. Pond fired up a 3 that found the bottom of the net to tie the game and send it to overtime.

“That play was pretty much on the fly. I got a good screen,” Pond said. “I was open and I said ‘you know what I have to step up.’ They’re playing KP really tight, they’re playing Caroline really tight. When it went in my heart was racing, it was crazy. To get it into overtime was the best feeling in the world.”

Haselton had 15 points for Greenfield. Pond finished with 14 points for Hampshire.

“There was a lot of talk before about freshmen,” Cyr said. “They have Haselton, who’s a super freshman, and there was talk about Wahconah’s freshman and I was trying to say we have a super freshman too. Sure enough Maddie had the free throws and the shot, all of it was huge.”

Greenfield scored the first four points of overtime, then O’Connor took over. First she converted a three-point play to counter the opening four points that Greenfield scored. On the next possession, she drew contact and made two more free throws. Hampshire then got a stop and raced up the court. O’Connor caught the ball and drive in for another layup to give Hampshire a 60-59 lead.

Greenfield turned the ball over then fouled Pond with 29.5 seconds to go. She made the first foul shoot, but missed the second. It clanged off the front rim and among a sea of jerseys O’Connor emerged with the ball. Hampshire kept possession and scored on the ensuing inbound to seal the win.

O’Connor (11 points) knew with the defense keying in on Pickunka someone else had to step up.

“The whole game I was kind of just playing, but in the fifth quarter it was a mindset of we have to win this game,” O’Connor said. “Someone’s got to step up and do it. I was so glad I could help me and my teammates pull through in the end.”

Cyr coach was pleased with her efforts.

“She was huge. The boards, the free throws, she came to life, really,” Cyr said. “She had the look in her eye and she made some really huge plays during overtime.”

The Raiders will play a Wahconah team that knocked off five-time defending champion Hoosac Valley in the quarterfinals and No. 2 South Hadley, 48-44, in the semifinals.

Hampshire 63, Greenfield 59

Hampshire (20-2)

Labrie 2-2-6, Pickunka 9-8-26, Rubeck 2-1-6, Pond 6-1-14, O’Connor 3-5-11. Totals 22-17-63.

Greenfield (21-2)

Haselton 4-5-15, Hickey 7-0-16, Ward 1-0-2, Howland 2-0-4, Pollins 10-2-22. Totals 24-7-59.

Hampshire

10

13

11

19

10—63

Greenfield

14

9

15

15

6—59

3-Pointers—Hampshire 2 (Rubeck, Pond) Greenfield 4 (Haselton 2, Hickey 2)