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South Hadley shoots past Ware in girls basketball

SOUTH HADLEY — The South Hadley girls basketball team created so many shots Thursday night, it didn’t matter that they made just 24 percent of them.

The Tigers forced 41 turnovers and made 19-of-80 shots from the field in a 49-40 victory over Ware.

“We get a lot of shots,” South Hadley coach Paul Dubuc said. “We didn’t shoot well tonight, but we get a lot of shots. If we get that many, we are going to win most of the games. Even when we don’t shoot well. For us to score 49 here, I think is a little low. But the scores can come down in league games because everyone knows everyone else so well.”

South Hadley (7-2, 1-1 Bi-County Central) was extremely aggressive defensively throughout the game, trapping on its own missed baskets and taking chances up and down the court to force turnovers and rushed shots.

“It’s definitely fun” to play that way, senior guard Tess Gauthier said. “We have a really great bench, so we are able to press and keep running everybody.”

After trailing by seven after the first quarter, South Hadley took control in the second with its suffocating full-court defense.

Dubuc said the team’s depth is key to allowing him to play such an all-out style.

“I have that freedom” to play that defense, Dubuc said. “I bring in kids off the bench and we keep right on going. We work hard. They have to go at that pace in practice, so they are all ready to go like that in the games. It forces people to play at a speed they don’t want to play at.”

The Tigers went on a 13-0 run over the opening 6 minutes, 4 seconds of the frame and took a 24-22 lead into the half.

Ware (4-4, 0-1) made 13 turnovers during the run and 14 in the quarter.

“Part of (the defensive intensity) is our coach,” senior forward Megan Lynes said. “He’s always on us. And we want to do our best and be our best. We want to get into the playoffs and go far. We want to get to the Cage. It’s my senior year, that’s all we want to do is work to get there.”

The spurt finally ended when Opaul Morris (17 points, 13 rebounds) drew a foul and made both baskets to cut the South Hadley lead to 22-18.

Lynes (seven points, nine rebounds, three steals) opened the second half with a drive through the lane and Kara Callahan (eight points) followed with a 3-pointer from the left side to push the lead to 29-22.

Morris responded with a floater in the lane, but Lynes scored on an offensive rebound and Gauthier added a short jumper from the right side to push the lead to 33-24 en route to the victory.

Kelly Pouliot came off the bench to lead the Tigers with 13 points on four 3-pointers, while Gauthier added 10 points, six rebounds and seven steals. Victoria Mielnikowski, another bench player, had 12 rebounds and two blocks.

The win was a nice bounce back for the Tigers after Tuesday’s 72-48 loss at undefeated Sabis snapped a six-game winning streak.

“I thought we responded really well,” Dubuc said. “We had a good practice after and said we wanted to use that experience to get better. That’s how we measure ourselves. I think that’s the team everyone else in western Mass. is measuring themselves against also. We used that as a learning tool.”

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

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