Granby defense shuts down Hopkins Academy girls hoop
Meghan Sullivan of Granby, right, looks for a shot against Hopkins Academy defenders Kyra Michalak, left, and Madi Stevens Wednesday at Hopkins. Purchase photo reprints »
Meghan Sullivan of Granby, top, shoots against Kate Sullivan of Hopkins Academy Wednesday at Hopkins. Looking on are Lacey Waskiewicz, left, and McKenzie Sullivan, front. Purchase photo reprints »
Kate Sullivan of Hopkins Academy, left, moves the ball while defended by Casey Imelio of Granby Wednesday at Hopkins. Purchase photo reprints »
Briannah Mercier of Granby, left, reaches for a rebound beside teammate Meghan Sullivan, third from left, and Hopkins Academy players Lacey Waskiewicz, second from left, and Nicole Morrison Wednesday at Hopkins. Purchase photo reprints »
Rebecca Sapoukey of Granby, center, shoots between Hopkins Academy defenders Olivia Mathieu, left, and Kyra Michalak Wednesday at Hopkins. Purchase photo reprints »
Casey Imelio of Granby, left, moves the ball against Kayla Jacque of Hopkins Academy Wednesday at Hopkins. Purchase photo reprints »
Tara Mikalchus of Granby, center, shoots between Hopkins defenders Kyra Michalak, left, and Kayla Jacque Wednesday at Hopkins. Lacey Waskiewicz of Hopkins looks on. Purchase photo reprints »
Kiley Baron of Granby, left, shoots against Kayla Jacque of Hopkins Academy Wednesday at Hopkins. Purchase photo reprints »
Brooke Labrie of Granby, left, moves the ball against Kayla Jacque of Hopkins Academy Wednesday at Hopkins. Purchase photo reprints »
HADLEY — The Granby girls basketball team’s offense was good in spurts Wednesday. The defense was dynamite for all 32 minutes.
The Rams locked down Hopkins Academy en route to a 55-28 victory that was never in doubt.
“We came in off two practices Monday and Tuesday knowing this was going to be a tough game,” junior center Rebecca Sapoukey said. “We came out and played really strong (defensively) in the first half. It was huge to hold them like that.”
Granby (6-0) pitched a first quarter shutout and enjoyed a 24-2 lead with 3 minutes, 8 seconds left in the second.
The Rams forced 20 first-half turnovers and 27 for the game.
“We’ve been communicating a lot more on defense,” said sophomore guard Meghan Sullivan, whose team is allowing 26.5 points per game this season. “We are talking a lot more, so we know where each other is going to be. It’s helpful. We’re playing much better defense because of it.”
The defensive effort covered up some offensive issues for Granby, which shot 4 for 16 from the free-throw line in the first half and 11 for 28 overall.
“We’ve shot something like 45 percent for the year,” coach Tom Burke said. “We’ve got a shortened practice (Thursday) and I said that we’re just going to shoot free throws. They were all laughing, but I’m serious. We are just shooting free throws.”
Sullivan scored a season-high 15 points to go with seven rebounds and four steals. She said her shot is still a work in progress.
“I’ve been looking to drive a lot more, but my free throws haven’t been falling lately,” Sullivan said. “I’ve been working on my shot, too, so hopefully it’ll start to come around.”
She added, Wednesday’s good effort “gave me some confidence to know that some of the work is paying off right now.”
Kiley Baran had 11 points for the Rams. Sapoukey, meanwhile, dominated inside and finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks despite sitting out the fourth quarter.
“That’s a nice team,” Hopkins coach Fred Ciaglo said. “They are athletic. They go and get the ball. They play together well and they’ve got (Sapoukey) in the middle and they make good use of her.”
Olivia Mathieu led the Golden Hawks (4-3) with nine points and three steals. She broke up the shutout with 4:59 left in the second quarter with an off-balance floater in the lane to make the score 16-2.
Granby responded with 3-pointers from Brooke Labrie (seven points, four assists, four steals) and Sullivan, who then scored on an offensive rebound for a 24-2 lead with 3:08 left.
Hopkins twins sisters Kate Sullivan (five points) and Mackenzie Sullivan (six points, five rebounds), who are not related to Granby’s Meghan Sullivan, make back-to-back 3s from the top of the key to get the lead back to 24-8, but the Golden Hawks were never that close again.
“They were more athletic and stronger than we were. That was it,” said Ciaglo, whose team has lost two in a row at home. “They were in our face and any cuts we tried to make, we couldn’t make them because we weren’t strong enough.
“We talked at halftime that if they are going to be up tight on us, we’ve got to start going backdoor. This offense that I run has a lot to do with backdoor cuts. It’s read and react. We just weren’t doing that. We weren’t making decisions fast enough and we weren’t strong on our cuts.”
Jim Pignatiello can be reached at email@example.com.