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Drury defense sends South Hadley home in girls Division 2 quarterfinal

NORTH ADAMS — With the clock running out, South Hadley put the ball in the hands of its best 3-point shooter.

The Drury girls basketball team countered by assigning its best player to guard Kara Callahan.

Danielle Racette won the battle, emphatically swatting Callahan’s 3-point shot away. The block sealed the game and the No. 1 Blue Devils knocked off No. 8 South Hadley, 54-51 in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament quarterfinals.

“I just went straight up when she got the ball,” Racette said. “I knew she was going up with it. I just wanted that” block.

Racette was assigned to guard Callahan all game. Callahan finished with just four points in the contest.

“I thought we did everything we wanted to do,” South Hadley coach Paul Dubuc said. “Then their best player made the best play of the night. She just whacked that 3 away.”

That wasn’t Racette’s only big play of the game. South Hadley’s Megan Lynes banked in a 3-pointer with 2:27 to play to give the Tigers a 51-48 lead. That was the last time South Hadley scored.

Two possessions later Racette calmly brought the ball down the floor and looked to make a play. From about three feet behind the 3-point line, she looked to make a pass. When she realized nothing was open she stepped back and launched a 3-pointer of her own to tie the game and give Drury the momentum.

“I didn’t want to rush any shots, but I was wide open,” Racette said. “We were down by three and that’s a shot I can make. I just flicked it up and it went. I think that was the emotional charge we needed.”

The Blue Devils forced a quick steal and Racette dished the ball to Shannon Garvey, who fired a shot from the foul line to give her team the lead.

The victory gets the Blue Devils past the quarterfinals for the first time since 2007. The Blue Devils will play the winner of Saturday’s 4:30 p.m. quarterfinal between Belchertown and Wahconah. The semifinal is Thursday at 8 p.m. at the Curry Hicks Cage.

“I’ve been playing on this team since I was freshman,” Garvey said. “Since freshman year, we always got stopped. But in senior year we are going to the Cage. That’s just so awesome.”

It was the senior trio of Racette, Garvey and Ali Tatro who led the way for Drury. Racette finished with a game-high 17 points. Garvey had 12 and Tatro chipped in 13 points.

Kelly Pouliot led South Hadley with 14 points. Meghan Ginley had 13 and Megan Lynes had nine — all in the fourth quarter.

“Our girls came out strong and to the hoop and played well,” Dubuc said. “I really can’t say enough about Racette. ... Their big players made big plays when they needed them. That’s why they won.”

South Hadley’s up-tempo and even chaotic style gave the Blue Devils fits for much of the game. Drury opened an early lead, but South Hadley chipped away and never was out of it.

It was Racette’s all-around play that held Drury in the game and allowed it to escape with the victory.

“A lot of players are defined by how many points they score,” Drury coach John Franzoni said. “That’s not how you define Danielle. She’s a great player on both ends of the floor. The great thing about her is she is better defensively.”

Freshman Olivia Carlson also made huge plays for the Blue Devils. She played more minutes because Emily Moulton got into foul trouble and finished with five points, including a pressure free throw in the final minute to make the spread three.

Carlson helpped the Blue Devils control the boards and control the tempo late.

“It’s such a relief for me and Emily, I know that if I get into trouble we have strong players coming off the bench,” Garvey said. “We have (Olivia) and she doesn’t play like a freshman.”

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