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Northampton girls basketball clinches tournament berth

  • Maya Kerstetter of Northampton, left, drives to the basket against West Springfield Monday in Northampton. Khaila Ramirez of Northampton and Emily Calabrese of West Springfield look on.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Maya Kerstetter of Northampton, left, drives to the basket against West Springfield Monday in Northampton. Khaila Ramirez of Northampton and Emily Calabrese of West Springfield look on.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Anna Walther of Northampton, front, gets fouled by Nicki Longey of West Springfield Monday in Northampton. Looking on are, from left, Shar Pernice, Maggie Mahoney and Khaila Ramirez.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Anna Walther of Northampton, front, gets fouled by Nicki Longey of West Springfield Monday in Northampton. Looking on are, from left, Shar Pernice, Maggie Mahoney and Khaila Ramirez.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Anna Moore of Northampton, left, wins the tip-off against Nicki Longey of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.JERREY ROBERTS

    Anna Moore of Northampton, left, wins the tip-off against Nicki Longey of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Anna Moore of Northampton, left, moves the ball against Nicki Longey of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Anna Moore of Northampton, left, moves the ball against Nicki Longey of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Susan Bell of Northampton, center, gets fouled by Rudi Spano of West Springfield, right, Monday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Susan Bell of Northampton, center, gets fouled by Rudi Spano of West Springfield, right, Monday in Northampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Charlotte Maurer of Northampton, left, moves the ball against Libby Patruski of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Charlotte Maurer of Northampton, left, moves the ball against Libby Patruski of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Anna Moore of Northampton, top, shoots against Nicki Longey of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Anna Moore of Northampton, top, shoots against Nicki Longey of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Anna Walther of Northampton, center, moves the ball beside Catie Lipscomb of West Springfield Monday in Northampton. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Anna Walther of Northampton, center, moves the ball beside Catie Lipscomb of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Charlotte Maurer of Northampton, right, reaches for a loose ball beside Bri Pisano of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Charlotte Maurer of Northampton, right, reaches for a loose ball beside Bri Pisano of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Anna Moore of Northampton, right, defends Libby Patruski of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Anna Moore of Northampton, right, defends Libby Patruski of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Maya Kerstetter of Northampton, right, moves the ball as Catie Lipscomb of West Springfield tries to steal Monday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Maya Kerstetter of Northampton, right, moves the ball as Catie Lipscomb of West Springfield tries to steal Monday in Northampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Maya Kerstetter, left, of Northampton, does a little bit of everything for the Blue Devils, who play Chicopee Saturday at 5:45 p.m. in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament championship at Curry Hicks Cage.

    Maya Kerstetter, left, of Northampton, does a little bit of everything for the Blue Devils, who play Chicopee Saturday at 5:45 p.m. in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament championship at Curry Hicks Cage. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Maggie Mahoney of Northampton, right, moves the ball against Rachel Beliveau of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Maggie Mahoney of Northampton, right, moves the ball against Rachel Beliveau of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Nadine Harris of Northampton, top, shoots against Rachel Beliveau of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Nadine Harris of Northampton, top, shoots against Rachel Beliveau of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Maya Kerstetter of Northampton, left, drives to the basket against West Springfield Monday in Northampton. Khaila Ramirez of Northampton and Emily Calabrese of West Springfield look on.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Anna Walther of Northampton, front, gets fouled by Nicki Longey of West Springfield Monday in Northampton. Looking on are, from left, Shar Pernice, Maggie Mahoney and Khaila Ramirez.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Anna Moore of Northampton, left, wins the tip-off against Nicki Longey of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.JERREY ROBERTS
  • Anna Moore of Northampton, left, moves the ball against Nicki Longey of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Susan Bell of Northampton, center, gets fouled by Rudi Spano of West Springfield, right, Monday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Charlotte Maurer of Northampton, left, moves the ball against Libby Patruski of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Anna Moore of Northampton, top, shoots against Nicki Longey of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Anna Walther of Northampton, center, moves the ball beside Catie Lipscomb of West Springfield Monday in Northampton. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Charlotte Maurer of Northampton, right, reaches for a loose ball beside Bri Pisano of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Anna Moore of Northampton, right, defends Libby Patruski of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Maya Kerstetter of Northampton, right, moves the ball as Catie Lipscomb of West Springfield tries to steal Monday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Maya Kerstetter, left, of Northampton, does a little bit of everything for the Blue Devils, who play Chicopee Saturday at 5:45 p.m. in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament championship at Curry Hicks Cage.
  • Maggie Mahoney of Northampton, right, moves the ball against Rachel Beliveau of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Nadine Harris of Northampton, top, shoots against Rachel Beliveau of West Springfield Monday in Northampton.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

But the junior point guard has never had a postseason home game.

Now that the Blue Devils clinched a tourney spot with Monday night’s 58-38 victory over West Springfield, they turn their attention to getting the highest seed possible.

“We know we’ve made it to the playoffs and we know this was a good win to beat West Side because they are one of the top teams in our league and in Division 1,” said Walther, whose Blue Devils have lost at Amherst Regional in the quarterfinals in each of the past two seasons. “But we know that we have to keep clicking off the wins and that will get us a better seed. We have tough games coming up and we need to get those wins, too.”

Northampton (10-2, 4-1 Valley Wheel) faces the immediate challenge of five straight road games and don’t return home until Feb. 11 against Minnechaug.

“We’ve got a tough week. We’ve got finals this week and we’ve got games back-to-back on Thursday (at Westfield) and Friday” at Ludlow, coach Perry Messer said. Playing five straight road games “is what is going to toughen us up. We are looking forward to the challenge.”

On Monday, the Blue Devils attacked the West Springfield (8-3, 3-1) press all night and cruised to their seventh straight win.

“We work on our dribbling and everything a lot,” Walther said. “We also practice against the press, so we know what we are running, too. We know where they are going to be positioned and what we have to do to get around those spots that they are going to be in.

“We like keeping the tempo up. If we keep running it, we do really well. We like playing at a fast pace.”

Northampton scored 16 points combined either against the press or on a fast break.

“We work hard on our ball-handling,” Messer said. “I don’t care if you are a center, you should be able to handle the ball as well as any guard that we have. The first eight kids that we play, they can all handle the ball. It’s just a matter of us looking to the right spots and getting it to the right area.”

He added, “If they are going to press us, we are going to go to the rim and make them pay for it.”

Juniors Maya Kerstetter, Anna Moore and Walther — all three having 0-2 postseason records so far — combined for 46 of their team’s 58 points.

Kerstetter led the Blue Devils with 20 points to go with eight rebounds and three steals. Moore contributed 11 points, seven rebounds and five blocks, while Walther added 15 points, five steals and four assists.

Charlotte Maurer didn’t score, but had 14 rebounds to lead a strong team effort on the glass for Northampton. The Blue Devils scored 13 points on offensive rebounds.

“We are starting to get more aggressive and do a little bit of the dirty work that you have to if you are going to be a good team,” Messer said. “I thought Charlotte was immense tonight. She was aggressive going after the basketball.”

Northampton led 37-27 with 1 minute, 55 seconds left in the third quarter when Kerstetter scored six points before the break and the Blue Devils carried the momentum in to the fourth with another six straight to ice the game.

“We were picking our dribble up and throwing it ahead, making it 1-on-1 when we should have been attacking and making it 2-on-1,” Messer said. “That’s what we did in the second half. We kept it in our hands, went to the rim and dished it off when we had to. That made it a little bit better.”

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

For more coverage, including a high school sports blog, go to gazettenet.com/sports/highschoolsports. Follow the Gazette’s high school sports coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/GazetteHS.

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