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South Hadley girls basketball outruns Belchertown

  • Tea Spellacy of Belchertown, left, drives to the basket ahead of South Hadley defenders Victoria Mielnikowski, front, and Tess Gauthier Friday in South Hadley.

    Tea Spellacy of Belchertown, left, drives to the basket ahead of South Hadley defenders Victoria Mielnikowski, front, and Tess Gauthier Friday in South Hadley. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kelly Pouliot of South Hadley, right, scores a three-pointer while defended by Kelsey Shea of Belchertown Friday in South Hadley.

    Kelly Pouliot of South Hadley, right, scores a three-pointer while defended by Kelsey Shea of Belchertown Friday in South Hadley. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Megan Lynes of South Hadley, center, shoots between Belchertown defenders Marissa Kopacz, left, and Jillian Lund Friday in South Hadley.

    Megan Lynes of South Hadley, center, shoots between Belchertown defenders Marissa Kopacz, left, and Jillian Lund Friday in South Hadley. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Sarah Woodcock of Belcehrtown, top, shoots against South Hadley defenders Kara Callahan, center, and Megan Lynes Friday in South Hadley.

    Sarah Woodcock of Belcehrtown, top, shoots against South Hadley defenders Kara Callahan, center, and Megan Lynes Friday in South Hadley. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jillian Cavanaugh of Belchertown, left, shoots against Megan Lynes of South Hadley Friday in South Hadley.

    Jillian Cavanaugh of Belchertown, left, shoots against Megan Lynes of South Hadley Friday in South Hadley. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kara Callahan of South Hadley, right, moves the ball against Tea Spellacy of Belchertown Friday in South Hadley.

    Kara Callahan of South Hadley, right, moves the ball against Tea Spellacy of Belchertown Friday in South Hadley. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Megan Lynes of South Hadley, center, shoots between Belchertown defenders Marissa Kopacz, left, and Jillian Lund Friday in South Hadley.

    Megan Lynes of South Hadley, center, shoots between Belchertown defenders Marissa Kopacz, left, and Jillian Lund Friday in South Hadley. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Tea Spellacy of Belchertown, left, drives to the basket ahead of South Hadley defenders Victoria Mielnikowski, front, and Tess Gauthier Friday in South Hadley.
  • Kelly Pouliot of South Hadley, right, scores a three-pointer while defended by Kelsey Shea of Belchertown Friday in South Hadley.
  • Megan Lynes of South Hadley, center, shoots between Belchertown defenders Marissa Kopacz, left, and Jillian Lund Friday in South Hadley.
  • Sarah Woodcock of Belcehrtown, top, shoots against South Hadley defenders Kara Callahan, center, and Megan Lynes Friday in South Hadley.
  • Jillian Cavanaugh of Belchertown, left, shoots against Megan Lynes of South Hadley Friday in South Hadley.
  • Kara Callahan of South Hadley, right, moves the ball against Tea Spellacy of Belchertown Friday in South Hadley.
  • Megan Lynes of South Hadley, center, shoots between Belchertown defenders Marissa Kopacz, left, and Jillian Lund Friday in South Hadley.

The Tigers will eventually find their groove.

South Hadley did just that Friday night, overcoming a long dry spell in the middle of the game against Belchertown with 21 points in the final 6 minutes, 3 seconds en route to a 65-58 win at home.

“Everyone in (Division 2) is bigger than us, so we have to play fast and we have to play smart,” Dubuc said. “We might have some rough patches, but we have to get through that for what’s coming after.”

Belchertown (3-2) tied the game at 44-44 when Téa Spellacy found Jillian Cavanaugh underneath for a basket with 6:03 left in the game.

But South Hadley (4-1) forced four turnovers over the next 1:41 with its fullcourt 2-2-1 press and took advantage with a 10-1 run capped by one free throw each by Lexi Gawron and Meghan Ginley.

“We go. When they score a basket, we want to immediately be down on the other end scoring a basket,” Dubuc said. “We work on that all the time. It helps us defensively. It makes us quicker and faster. We’ve been trying to do that for a while, but it’s coming around now. We’re rebounding better, which helps us get out and run more, too.”

Spellacy answered with a 3-pointer and Belchertown made three free throws to cut the deficit back to 54-51 with 2:40 left, but South Hadley responded with baskets by Ginley and Megan Lynes to put the game away.

“It was our first time running the press” this season, said Kelly Pouliot, who scored a team-high 19 points to go with four rebounds. “We started practicing it at the end of last week to use specifically for this game.”

South Hadley (4-1) forced 25 turnovers in the contest.

“The name of the game was turnovers,” Belchertown coach Jason Woodcock said. “We kept hurting ourselves. Every time we made a mistake, they made us pay.

“When you throw the ball to the other team as many times as we did, you aren’t going to win. It was a lot. Sometimes, it’s like we didn’t see the other girl in between us and our teammate, but what are you going to do?”

Despite their struggles controlling the ball, the Orioles still led 35-25 with 3:29 left in the third quarter. But Pouliot came alive with a personal 10-point run to tie the game with 45 seconds left in the frame.

First, she knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key. She then converted a fast break layup, followed by two made free throws and capped it with a 3-pointer from the right side.

“In warm-ups, my shooting was not too spot-on, but once I got in the game and my adrenaline got going, it got a lot better,” said Pouliot, who has scored 19 points twice this season. The team’s first player off the bench also hit that mark in the team’s 70-51 win over Mahar on Dec. 13.

“When we bring in Kelly, we get bigger and faster,” Dubuc said. “We had four people in double figures (Friday) and that’s what we’ve been doing. We never know which four it is going to be.”

Pouliot was joined by Kara Callahan (14), Ginley (13 points, seven rebounds, six steals) and Lynes (12 points, seven rebounds) on Friday.

Lost in the result was a nice performance by Cavanaugh, Belchertown’s junior forward, who scored a career-high 22 points to go with 17 rebounds.

“We’ve been waiting for that,” Woodcock said. “She’s a very, very good athlete. She’s very strong. She has very soft hands. It was nice to see her break out like that.”

Spellacy added 17 points and five assists, while Marissa Kopacz had 11 points.

Jim Pignatiello can be reached at jpignatiello@gazettenet.com.

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