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Division 3 girls basketball: Katelyn Pickunka leads Hampshire Regional to first championship since 2007

  • Hampshire Regional eighth grade guard Brianne Salomao, left, senior center Katelyn Pickunka and junior forward Caroline O'Connor pose with the Division III West Champions trophy after the Red Raiders defeated the Wahconah Warriors, 47-41, at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional junior forward Caroline O’Connor, top center holding trophy, and her teammates celebrate their Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament title after defeating Wahconah, 47-41, at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional senior center Katelyn Pickunka (12) and freshman guard Madelyn Pond embrace as the Red Raiders celebrate their Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament title after defeating Wahconah, 47-41, at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional senior center Katelyn Pickunka, foreground left, and freshman guard Madelyn Pond embrace as the Red Raiders celebrate their Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament title after defeating Wahconah, 47-41, at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. Behind them are, from left, junior guard Kyleen Labrecque, sophomore forward Naomi Golasinski and freshman guard Lila Labrie. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Hampshire Regional team celebrates its Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament title after defeating Wahconah, 47-41, at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional senior center Katelyn Pickunka, left, and freshman guard Madelyn Pond embrace as their teammates, including, from left, Naomi Golasinski, Katherine Taylor (10), Brianne Salomao, Jacqueline Babyak and Maggie Rubeck, celebrate their Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament title after defeating Wahconah, 47-41, at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional freshman guard Lila Labrie hoists eighth-grade guard Brianne Salomao in the air after the Red Raiders won the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship with a 47-41 win over Wahconah at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. Behind them are senior center Katelyn Pickunka, left, and junior forward Caroline O'Connor. el—GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional senior center Katelyn Pickunka, background left, holds the Division III West Champions trophy as freshman guard Lila Labrie, right, hoists eighth-grade guard Brianne Salomao following the Red Raiders 47-41 win over Wahconah at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional freshman guard Caitlyn Pellegrini, front, and the rest of the Red Raiders bench rush the floor in celebration after Hampshire wins the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament title at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional junior guard Kyleen Labrecque, left, drives past Maria Gamberoni of Wahconah in the second half of the Raiders' 47-41 win over the Warriors in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional head coach Amy Cyr huddles with her players starting the fourth quarter of their 47-41 win over Wahconah in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. As they got up all they all chanted, "eight more minutes, eight more minutes." —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional senior center Katelyn Pickunka smiles on the way to the foul line in the second half of the Raiders' 47-41 win over Wahconah in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional senior center Katelyn Pickunka drives against Wahconah defender Kelly McMahon in the second half Saturday. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional freshman guard Madelyn Pond, left, keeps pressure on Suzanne Stefanik of Wahconah at the Cage. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Hampshire Regional bench celebrates a three-pointer that put the Raiders up 40-32 over Wahconah in the second half of their 47-41 win over the Warriors in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional players celebrate after Katelyn Pickunka sunk a basket that put the Raiders ahead of Wahconah, 43-38, in the last minutes of the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. Hampshire won, 47-41. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional players join hands during the national anthem prior to their Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship game against Wahconah at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. The Raiders won, 47-41. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional junior forward Caroline O'Connor shoots under pressure from Noelle Furlong of Wahconah in the second half of the Raiders' 47-41 win over the Warriors in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional freshman guard Madelyn Pond, center, tosses an overhand pass on a fast break under pressure from Kelly McMahon, left, and Maria Gamberoni of Wahconah in the first half of the Raiders' 47-41 win over the Warriors in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. In background is junior guard Kylee Labrecque. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional junior forward Caroline O'Connor reaches for a loose ball between Wahconah defenders Maria Gamberoni, left, and Noelle Furlong in the second half of the Raiders' 47-41 win over the Warriors in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional senior center Katelyn Pickunka is fouled as she attempts a shot in the first half of the Raiders' 47-41 win over Wahconah in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. Wahconah players, from left, are Suzanne Stefanik, Kelly McMahon and Cassie Tobler, who also made contact and was called with the foul. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional freshman guard Maggie Rubeck, right, defends Maria Gamberoni of Wahconah in the first half of the Raiders' 47-41 win over the Warriors in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • After winning a loose ball, Hampshire Regional freshman guard Lila Labrie, center, sends a pass between Wahconah's Maria Gamberoni, left, and Suzanne Stefanik, to Caroline O'Connor, far left, in the first half of the Raiders' 47-41 win over the Warriors in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. At far right is Hampshire freshman guard Madelyn Pond. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional freshman guard Madelyn Pond, left, loses control of the ball under pressure from Suzanne Stefanik of Wahconah in the first half of the Raiders' 47-41 win over the Warriors in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional fans cheer after junior guard Kyleen Labrecque (21) took the ball away from Wahconah's Maria Gamberoni, left, under the Warriors basket in the first half of the Raiders' 47-41 win in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. Also defending, in foreground right, is freshman guard Madelyn Pond. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Hampshire Regional senior center Katelyn Pickunka lays in two points against Wahconah in the first half of the Raiders' 47-41 win over the Warriors in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament championship at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst on Saturday, March 10, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING



@kylegrbwsk
Monday, March 12, 2018

AMHERST — Katelyn Pickunka exerted her will on the Western Massachusetts Division 3 championship game.

Whether she was scoring, directing teammates, or, most of all, rebounding, the Hampshire Regional senior left her fingerprints on nearly every play of Hampshire’s 47-41 victory over Wahconah, Saturday.

The Raiders will face Central Mass. champion Sutton, Tuesday at 5:30 at American International College in the state semifinals.

Pickunka scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed 23 rebounds in leading the Raiders to their first sectional title since 2007.

“I think it was pure will. We needed to stop their second opportunities and get offensive boards,” Pickunka said.

Pickunka and the Raiders often limited Wahconah to one shot and carved out multiple opportunities on offense.

“We were one and done every time down the floor,” Wahconah coach Liz Kay said. “They did a great job on the boards.”

Add some on-target early shooting, and the Raiders (21-2) led 16-7 after the first two minutes. Maggie Rubeck banked in two 3s during that stretch.

“I didn’t hear her call it,” Hampshire coach Amy Cyr joked.

Hampshire made six 3s in the game. Rubeck, Kyleen Labrecque and Maddie Pond each hit two.

“Their role players where huge,” Kay said.

The Raiders built a 10-point halftime lead at 25-15. Wahconah (20-4) made its first charge at the start of the third quarter with a 7-0 run. Julia O’Connor hit a wide-open 3 to cut Hampshire’s lead to three with 5:36 remaining in the quarter, forcing Cyr to call a timeout.

Pickunka steadied the Raiders, making 7 of 9 free throws and adding a layup. They pushed their lead back to 10 by the end of the quarter.

“We’ve had some challenges this season,” Cyr said. “We can settle in, and we can take care of the basketball.”

Wahconah pushed again in the fourth and cut Hampshire’s lead to five with 1:16 left after Noelle Furlough hit a 3. The Warriors fouled Hampshire freshman Lila Labrie with 36.6 seconds left. She swished both free throws to extend the Raiders’ lead to seven.

“I was definitely feeling nervous, but I remembered what my coaches always tell me about mental toughness,” Labrie said.

Wahconah freshman Maria Gamberoni answered with a 3 to make it a four-point game with 29.3 seconds left.

Hampshire turned to Pickunka on an out-of-bounds play. She snuck into the paint under the basket and calmly dropped a layup through the net with 19 seconds left.

“When we need big buckets, we know we can go inside,” Cyr said.

Labrie popped up again on the last possession of the game. She stripped the ball from Gamberoni to end the game and seal the title.

“I didn’t want to lose my player or the ball,” Labrie said. “I was just zoned in the whole game.”

Receiving the trophy ended years of heartbreak for Pickunka. Hampshire lost in the sectional semifinals the previous two seasons before breaking through.

“Ever since I made varsity in eighth grade I’ve wanted to win Western Mass. It’s been on my bucket list,” she said. “This year, I knew right from the start it was going to be different. I had a different feeling.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.

Hampshire Regional 47,
Wahconah 41

Wahconah (20-4)

Steinman 1-0-2, Warren 1-0-2, Gamberoni 7-0-17, Furlong 2-1-7, McMahon 2-0-6, O’Connor 3-0-7. Totals 16-1-41

Hampshire Regional (21-2)

Labrie 0-2-2, Pickunka 6-8-20, Rubeck 2-0-6, Labrecque 2-0-6, Pond 3-0-8, Golasinski 0-0-0, O’Connor 1-3-5. Totals 14-13-47

Wahconah

10

5

12

14

—41

Hampshire Regional

16

9

12

10

—47

3-Pointers—Wahconah 8 (Gamberoni 3, Furlong 2, McMahon 2, O’Connor), Hampshire Regional 6 (Rubeck 2, Pond 2, Labreque 2)