Division 3 girls basketball: Familiar foes South Hadley, Hoosac Valley meet in championship

  • Sophie Gatzounas, left, of South Hadley, moves the ball against Kyleen Labrecque, of Hampshire Regional, Thursday at Curry Hicks Cage. Gazette staff/jerrey roberts

For the Gazette
Published: 3/10/2017 4:47:43 PM

AMHERST — Saturday’s Western Massachusetts Division 3 Girls Basketball Tournament championship might help answer the question of who wins when a seemingly unstoppable force meets an immovable object.

No team has stopped No. 2 seed South Hadley (22-0), but for the Tigers to keep their perfect record and win their first sectional title, they will need to unseat No. 1 Hoosac Valley (20-2), a four-time defending Western Mass. champions, including the past three D3 titles.

South Hadley coach Paul Dubuc knows his team’s in for a challenge against the Hurricanes, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“We know we’re in for a war Saturday, but you know what, that’s what we wanted,” Dubuc said.

South Hadley defeated Hoosac, 46-40, on Dec. 30, but the Tigers also defeated the Hurricanes in the regular season last year before falling to them later in the season, so Dubuc won’t be holding his hat on the victory.

“I don’t know, we beat them last year and then the second time we played them they beat us. ... If we worry about what happened in December, we’re in the wrong place, you know,” Dubuc said.

South Hadley leading scorer Sophie Gatzounas also won’t be taking much away from the previous win.

“That game was an interesting game. It was hard to get in a flow that game, so it’s difficult to take something away from that, but I think we’re two very strong, confident teams, so it should be an interesting game,” Gatzounas said.

Hoosac senior Fallon Field has played on each of the past three championship teams, and watched the 2013 Division 2 victory in the stands.

Field believed the past championships will help give the team confidence going into Saturday’s matchup.

“I think it gives me personally a lot of confidence but it also helps my team to have captains and upperclassmen who have been here and can say, ‘it’s just a basketball court, it’s just a game.’ So I think it gives our whole team an advantage,” Field said.

Over the past three seasons the teams have faced each other five times, with South Hadley winning twice. Hoosac coach Ron Wojcik predicted another close matchup on Saturday

“They have a great player in Sophie, we feel we do with Fallon,” Wojcik said. “So you’ve got matchups of a couple of good players, couple of good big people inside, they’re guards are good, Mia Kelly’s good, and we have strong guard play. I think it’s going to be a great matchup.”

The Hurricanes are known for a press defense that wreaks havoc on its opponents, forcing turnovers that set up easy baskets on offense.

Dubuc thought his team’s experience playing against Hoosac will help South Hadley counteract that press.

“We’ve seen them I think as much as anybody from this neck of the woods,” Dubuc said. “We played them twice last year, twice the year before, we’ve played them like six or seven times and every time we get a little better at handling it. They’ve got to handle our pressure too.

“We know each other pretty good. It’s going to be a rock fight. And you know what, we want the pressure.”

For Gatzounas a championship would be the perfect ending to an unbelievable season.

“It would be surreal, it would be absolutely incredible to put a banner up at our school, leave my mark,” Gatzounas said.

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