Division 2 girls basketball: ‘Mirror images’ Belchertown and Pittsfield face off again for title

  • Cara McKenzie and the Belchertown girls basketball team will face Pittsfield in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament final, Saturday at Curry Hicks Cage. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Kayla Henry, front, of Belchertown, celebrates her team's 46-36 win against North Middlesex, Monday at Curry Hicks Cage. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Cara McKenzie, right, of Belchertown, shoots against Madeline Harrington, of North Middlesex, Monday at Curry Hicks Cage. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Kayla Henry, right, of Belchertown, drives to the basket against Hadley Beauregard, of North Middlesex, Monday at Curry Hicks Cage. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

@kylegrbwsk
Published: 3/10/2017 4:48:44 PM

Belchertown took a day off from girls basketball practice Tuesday to watch Pittsfield play Longmeadow.

The Orioles had already clinched their spot in Saturday’s Western Massachusetts Division 2 Championship game by beating North Middlesex, and went to Curry Hicks Cage to watch the other semifinal.

They saw the Generals prevail in dramatic fashion in overtime. They saw a dynamic lead guard and powerful post presence surrounded with complementary pieces. They saw a little bit of themselves.

“We’re almost kind of mirror images of each other in some ways,” Belchertown coach Jay Woodcock said.

When top-seeded Belchertown (17-4) squares off with No. 3 Pittsfield (15-7) at 5:45 p.m. Saturday at the Cage, there will be few secrets between the teams. They’ve played each other in each of the past four postseasons. Pittsfield won 57-42 in the 2014 quarterfinals and last year in the semifinals, 60-56. Belchertown prevailed 54-43 in 2015 to win the program’s first Western Mass. title.

“We are very familiar with each other, especially in big games,” Woodcock said.

It doesn’t take intimate knowledge of the Generals to know about senior Peyton Steinmann, though. Pittsfield’s all-time leading scorer willed the Generals to a victory last year and is every team’s first priority. She’s scoring 20.3 points per game this season.

“Peyton Steinmann’s the biggest threat,” Belchertown senior Kayla Henry said. “She can take over a game whenever she wants.”

She’s a lot like Henry in that way. Both are senior guards and 1,000-point scorers. Their teams rely on their offensive ability. Henry led western Mass. with a an average of 25.9 points per game.

“It makes me have to step up to another level,” Henry said. “It’s a really competitive matchup to see who shows up that night.”

Henry and fellow senior Cara McKenzie know they need to show up and show out. They’re the only players remaining from Belchertown’s last sectional title team.

“It’s no secret that we’re going to go as far as those two are going to take us,” Woodcock said. “We’ll put our faith in them and do our best to support them.”

It’s a burden the senior duo has embraced. They’ve tried to prepare their teammates for the environment and the stage.

“We established the Cage is a tough environment. People are going to be yelling some not very nice things,” McKenzie said. “We remind them there’s a reason you’re here. There’s a reason you’re on this team.”

That reason?

“To make history for our school,” McKenzie said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.




Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy