Northampton girls basketball falls to Chicopee in title game
The Northampton girls on the bench with only seconds left in the Western Mass finals in which they lost to Chicopee Saturday night in Amherst. Purchase photo reprints »
Anna Moore, of Northampton makes a shot as raven Fournier of Chicopee blocks her during the Western Mass Finals Saturday in Amherst. Purchase photo reprints »
Maya Kerstetter, of Northampton brings the ball down court past #10, Katherine Cyr and Dawn Dyer-Martin in the back, of Chicopee during the Western Mass Finals Saturday in Amherst. Purchase photo reprints »
Anna Moore, of Northampton during the Western Mass Finals against Chicopee Saturday in Amherst. Purchase photo reprints »
Charlotte Maurer of Northampton and coach Perry Messer during the Western Mass Finals against Chicopee in Amherst Saturday night. Purchase photo reprints »
Charlotte Maurer of Northampton during the Western Mass Finals against Chicopee in Amherst Saturday night. Purchase photo reprints »
Anna Walther of Northampton during the Western Mass Finals against Chicopee in Amherst Saturday night. Purchase photo reprints »
Coach Perry Messer of Northampton during the Western Mass Finals against Chicopee in Amherst Saturday night. Purchase photo reprints »
Northampton High school girls against Chicopee High School in Western Mass Finals. Purchase photo reprints »
Left Anna Walther and Maya Kerstetter of Northampton after losing the Western Mass Finals to Chicopee Saturday night in Amherst. Purchase photo reprints »
Maya Kerstetter of Northampton High during the Western Mass Finals against Chicopee Saturday night. Purchase photo reprints »
Charlotte Maurer and Susan Bell after losing to Chicopee High School in the Western Mass Finals. Purchase photo reprints »
Khaila Ramirez of Northampton High school girls during the western Mass Finals against Chicopee Saturday night in Amherst. Purchase photo reprints »
Anna Walther and the rest of the Northampton High school girls after losing to Chicopee High School in Western Mass Finals. Purchase photo reprints »
Coach Perry Messer comforts Susan Bell after losing to Chicopee High School in Western Mass Finals. Purchase photo reprints »
AMHERST — The fourth quarter, which had been so good to the Northampton girls basketball team in the postseason, suddenly was not Saturday.
The Blue Devils could not hold on to a four-point lead early in the final frame and fell to Chicopee 49-47 in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament at the Curry Hicks Cage.
“We have pulled out a lot of close games this year, but I guess it doesn’t always work out in the end,” said junior center Anna Moore, who finished with eight points and four rebounds in the loss.
The No. 1 Blue Devils (18-5) erased a 12-point deficit in the final four-plus minutes to beat Pittsfield in the quarterfinals and then pulled away down the stretch of a back-and-forth game to knock off Central in the semifinals.
But with standout junior Maya Kerstetter playing just 3 minutes, 36 seconds of the final quarter because of foul trouble, Northampton was outscored 17-10.
“It was really tough, but I still had faith,” Kerstetter said of being on the bench after fouling out with 21.2 seconds left. “I still believed my teammates could do it. Chicopee just pulled it out. They played a great game.”
The team was tied at 41, 43, 45 and 47 before Kerstetter was called for her fifth foul while battling for a defensive rebound against Raven Fournier with 21.2 seconds left.
While Kerstetter went to the bench for the remainder of the contest, Fournier knocked down both pressure free throws.
Both teams then missed the front end of 1-and-1s in the closing seconds.
“I feel bad for (my players). I want to see the smiles on their faces,” Northampton coach Perry Messer said. “They’ve worked very hard and I think they’ve deserved that. But you have to make the plays in order to get that done.”
The loss marked the final game for the Blue Devils’ lone senior, guard Susan Bell, a four-year starter and standout defender.
“Susan is like a family member. She’s been with me since second or third grade,” said Messer whose older sister Jenny also played for the Blue Devils. “I thought she played tough today and I think she’s played tough her whole career.
“I wish we could have pulled through for her and gotten her this ‘W,’ ” he added. “The family is a special family to me. I love her to death.”
Chicopee junior forward Dawn Dyer-Martin led all scorers with 23 points and virtually all of them came on fast-break layups.
The Pacers “played extremely hard. They pounded the boards,” Messer said. “They released two guys that basket-hung and we didn’t hit the offensive glass hard enough or hit the shots we needed to. That led to some breakouts late for a couple of easy ones.”
Dyer-Martin plays at the top of Chicopee’s 3-2 zone and caused turnover problems throughout. When Northampton did a get a shot off, she released and was found for numerous open looks at the other end.
“We could have done a better job taking care of the ball,” Kerstetter said. “Dawn did a great job up top of getting her hands on balls.”
Junior guard Anna Walther led the Blue Devils with 16 points to go with a team-high 13 rebounds and three steals. Kerstetter added 13 points and six rebounds. She had 12 in the first quarter, which caused Chicopee to adjust its defense to focus on her.
“Instead of pressuring the top like we like to, we had to drop to the high post because their most dangerous player was getting great looks at the most dangerous spot on the floor,” Pacers coach Steve Marcil said. “We had to try to take that away. Kerstetter is a great player and if you let her get going, you are in big trouble.”
Northampton trailed 26-24 at halftime, but Walther opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer from the right baseline.
She then found Charlotte Maurer (four points, four rebounds) on a fast break for a 29-26 lead.
The Blue Devils pushed their lead to 37-32 going into the fourth quarter, but Chicopee erased the deficit with a 9-4 run.
Dyer-Martin scored eight points in the fourth, six on fast breaks, including the basket to take a 43-41 lead with 3:28 left.
Moore answered with a jumper from the foul line with 3:07 left. Kerstetter, who went to the bench with her fourth foul with 6:30 left, returned soon after and Moore put back her miss with 2:22 left for a 45-43 lead.
Chicopee guard Brittany Taylor responded with a jumper from the middle and, after a Northampton miss, Dyer-Martin scored her eighth fast-break basket for a 47-45 lead with 1:12 left.
“They’ve got two great senior leaders in (Ashley) Dion and Taylor,” Messer said. “They are tough handling the ball and knocked down some big shots. And when they missed shots, they had two or three people who moved us out of there. We have to get a little bit bigger and a little bit stronger to be able to handle that stuff.”
Walther responded with a floater in the lane. But, after Taylor missed 3, Fournier drew the fifth foul on Kerstetter to get to the line and knocked down both tries with 21.2 seconds to play.
“Every time you make a run in the tournament, there is going to be some game when you have one of your main guys in foul trouble,” Messer said. “People need to step up and make plays.
“I thought our kids that needed to step up did step up, but that’s part of the growing-up process, being able to step up and make those plays,” he added. “That’s something you have to learn. You have to trust your instincts and do the right thing.”
Jim Pignatiello can be reached at email@example.com.
Division 1 final
Chicopee 49, Northampton 47
Cyr 0-0-0, Dowd 1-0-2, Taylor 5-0-11, Fournier 0-3-3, Dion 1-2-4, Dyer-Martin 11-1-23, Jones 2-2-6. Totals: 20-8-49
Blue Devils (18-5)
Harris 0-0-0, Bell 0-2-2, Ramirez 1-0-2, Maurer 2-0-4, Moore 3-2-8, Sheehan 0-0-0, Glading-DiLorenzo 0-0-0, Baldwin 1-0-2, Kerstetter 6-1-13, Walther 6-3-16. Totals: 19-8-47
Chicopee 17 9 6 17—49
Northampton 18 6 13 10—47
3-pointers: Chicopee 1 (Taylor); Northampton 1 (Walther)