Division 4 girls basketball: Hopkins Academy’s historic run continues to state final

  • Hopkins Academy's Samantha Jenks, right, hugs teammate Gabriella Dyjach March 13, 2019 after winning the Massachusetts Division 4 Girls Basketball Semifinal against Montachusett at Worcester State University. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy players celebrate March 13, 2019 after winning the Massachusetts Division 4 Girls Basketball Semifinal against Montachusett at Worcester State University. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy players celebrate March 13, 2019 after winning the Massachusetts Division 4 Girls Basketball Semifinal against Montachusett at Worcester State University. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Thea Hanscom, left, Arya-Jane Mitchell, Samantha Jenks and Allison Kowal Safron celebrate March 13, 2019 after winning the Massachusetts Division 4 Girls Basketball Semifinal against Montachusett at Worcester State University. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Samantha Jenks goes up for a shot under pressure from Montachusett's Arianna Saladini March 13, 2019 during the Massachusetts Division 4 Girls Basketball Semifinal at Worcester State University. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Arya-Jane Mitchell, left, shoots the ball under pressure from Montachusett's Ashley Girouard March 13, 2019 during the Massachusetts Division 4 Girls Basketball Semifinal at Worcester State University. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Allison Kowal Safron, center, drives the ball past Montachusett's Ashley Girouard, left, and Arianna Saladini March 13, 2019 during the Massachusetts Division 4 Girls Basketball Semifinal at Worcester State University. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy’s Samantha Jenks, right, drives the ball past Montachusett Tech’s Emily St. Thomas during the state Division 4 semifinal, Wednesday at Worcester State University. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • The Hopkins Academy girls basketball team celebrates after beating Montachusett Tech in the state Division 4 semifinal, Wednesday at Worcester State University. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos and video. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy players celebrate March 13, 2019 after winning the Massachusetts Division 4 Girls Basketball Semifinal against Montachusett at Worcester State University. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy coach Mike Prattico hugs player Samantha Jenks March 13, 2019 after winning the Massachusetts Division 4 Girls Basketball Semifinal against Montachusett at Worcester State University. Hopkins Academy's Gabrielle Palmisano looks on, at right. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy’s Thea Hanscom, center, passes the ball under pressure from Montachusett Tech’s Ashley Girouard, left, and Emily St. Thomas, Wednesday. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Allison Kowal Safron, right, and Montachusett's Ashley Femino scramble to control the ball March 13, 2019 during the Massachusetts Division 4 Girls Basketball Semifinal against at Worcester State University. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Sara Beauchamp, center, goes up for a shot under pressure from Montachusett's Emily St. Thomas, left, and Erica Regan March 13, 2019 during the Massachusetts Division 4 Girls Basketball Semifinal at Worcester State University. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Arya-Jane Mitchell, left, looks to pass the ball under pressure from Montachusett's Ashley Girouard March 13, 2019 during the Massachusetts Division 4 Girls Basketball Semifinal at Worcester State University. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Hailey Boisvert, center, pushes through Montachusett defense Arianna Saladini, left, and Erica Regan March 13, 2019 during the Massachusetts Division 4 Girls Basketball Semifinal at Worcester State University. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy's Allison Kowal Safron, left, and Hailey Boisvert, right, battle against Montachusett's Erica Regan to control the ball March 13, 2019 during the Massachusetts Division 4 Girls Basketball Semifinal at Worcester State University. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

  • Hopkins Academy’s Sara Beauchamp, left, controls the ball under pressure from Montachusett Tech’s Emily St. Thomas during the state Division 4 semifinal, Wednesday at Worcester State University. FOR THE GAZETTE/SARAH CROSBY

Staff Writer
Published: 3/13/2019 11:20:04 PM

WORCESTER — Samantha Jenks weighed her options with two screens set, AJ Mitchell on her left and Thea Hanscom to her right. Hopkins Academy’s senior point guard chose Hanscom and drove right. Hanscom’s displaced Montachusett Tech defender Ashley Girouard shaded back toward her, leaving Jenks a lane to the basket.

Erica Regan slid over to the block to contest a layup. Jenks had missed her previous two layups in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s state Division 4 girls basketball semifinal. Instead of trying a third, she calmly pulled up for a short jumper with 1 minute, 7 seconds left. It put the Golden Hawks up five points.

Emily St. Thomas cut the lead back to one possession with a jumper 16 seconds later. With under a minute remaining, the Bulldogs fouled Jenks to send her to the line for a one-and-one. She swished both free throws with 38.7 seconds left then made two more 20 seconds later to ice the game.

“I’ve gotten used to it over the past couple of years. A couple of years ago, it was nerve-wracking and I couldn’t compose myself,” Jenks said. “I want the ball now.”

Hopkins Academy won, 55-48, at Worcester State to reach the state final for the first time in program history. The Golden Hawks will face South sectional champion Cathedral at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at WPI in Worcester. The Panthers beat Fenway, 65-44, on Tuesday. It’s the first time any Hopkins team has played for a state title since its baseball team in 2013. The Golden Hawks just won their first girls basketball sectional title last Saturday.

“I thought Western Mass. was an experience, but this is definitely going to be an experience,” Mitchell said. “Western Mass. was what we wanted, but states is what we want now.”

The semifinal was tied at 40 after three quarters. Hopkins’ Allison Kowal-Safron hit a free throw with 42.9 seconds left in the third to even the game. The Golden Hawks (19-6) scored 15 points in the fourth. Jenks had 13 of them and scored a game-high 27.

“We tried to eliminate her, we changed up our defenses,” Monty Tech coach Scott Malboeuf said. “She’s by far the best player we faced all year. She’s a remarkable player.”

Sarah Beauchamp capped a 7-0 Hopkins run with a running floater with 4:31 to go that put the Golden Hawks up 47-40.

Hopkins led 27-24 at halftime and survived Monty Tech’s strongest push in the third quarter. The Bulldogs led 29-27 with 6:21 to go in the quarter. They took advantage of Mitchell’s absence because of foul trouble.

Hopkins was without its defensive anchor and a conduit at the free-throw line.

“When she was out we could leave the foul line a little more,” Malboeuf said “Everything kind of goes through her.”

The Bulldogs went ahead for the last time 40-39 when Ashley Femino grabbed an offensive rebound on the fast break and put it back with 54 seconds left in the third quarter. Hopkins scored the next seven points to put itself in reach of the title game.

The Golden Hawks ended and started strong. Hopkins built a 12-6 lead behind Jenks’ shooting and Hanscom on the offensive glass. Hanscom scored the Golden Hawks’ first points on an offensive rebound and kept possessions alive despite contending with taller defenders.

“She’s a presence down there,” Hopkins coach Mike Prattico said. “Her savviness and understanding of the game, she has the trust from me and she’s done a heck of a job with it.”

Prattico’s mantra all season with the team is that there’s always a bigger goal. Now there’s just one game left for the biggest goal of all.

“A few weeks into the season I knew if we play our game, we build confidence, anything can happen,” he said. “It’s happening.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

Hopkins Academy 55,
Montachusett Tech 48

Hopkins Academy (19-6)

Hanscom 3-4-10, A. Kowal-Safron 0-1-1, Palmisano 0-0-0, Jenks 8-8-27, Mitchell 3-3-9, Beauchamp 3-1-8, Boisvert 0-0-0. Totals 17-17-55

Montachusett Tech (21-5)

St. Thomas 5-1-13, Regan 5-0-10, Girouard 3-3-9, Saladini 7-2-16. Totals 20-6-48

Hopkins Academy

16

11

13

15

—55

Montachusett Tech

14

10

16

8

—48

3-Pointers—Hopkins Academy 4 (Jenks 3, Beauchamp), Montachusett Tech 2 (St. Thomas 2)




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