South Hadley holds off Belchertown rally to keep playoff hopes alive

For the Gazette
Published: 2/12/2020 10:33:53 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — The South Hadley girls basketball team remained in the playoff hunt after holding off Belchertown, 48-43, in a tight senior night game Wednesday night.

South Hadley (7-11, 5-2 Suburban) needs to finish in second place in the league to qualify for the postseason. The Tigers finish with Granby (9-8, 4-2) on Friday night.

“I don’t think we care so much about the standings, we just want to make it to the playoffs however we can,” senior captain Bridget Sears said. “As long as we stay in second on Friday, we’ll get in, and hopefully we can continue the season.”

The Orioles (4-13, 1-5) trailed 36-9 at halftime but came charging back. They picked up the intensity and the pace, and forced South Hadley into turnovers to get back in the game.

“I don’t think we came out with the right amount of energy in the second half like we did in the first half,” Sears said. “Belchertown came back with a lot of energy, playing and shooting really well. Next time we’ll need to defend teams better in the second half, and put more effort forward.”

Belchertown outscored South Hadley 34-12 in the second half. Avery Klingensmith scored 11 of her game-high 15 points in the fourth quarter to spark the Orioles’ comeback.

“In the second half, we decided to forget everything we did,” South Hadley coach Paul Dubuc said. “I think we were short on some of the 3s. We shot incredibly well the first half. We got impatient, but we’ll be OK. We’ll bounce back.”

The Tigers couldn’t miss in the first half. Kate Walas and Olivia Marion fed off of each other and combined for 26 of South Hadley’s 36 first-half points. Walas hit four 3-pointers and had 12 points. Marion had 14 points. Both players were held scoreless in the second half.

The Tigers’ defense held Belchertown to one field goal in the first quarter and two field goals in the second.

South Hadley beat Granby, 46-43, on Jan. 23. The Rams are also pushing to qualify for the postseason.

“If somebody tells you the Monday after Thanksgiving that you’re going to be able to play one game to get into the tournament, you’d take that,” Dubuc said. “We’ll be ready to go Friday against Granby. If we win, we’re in. If we lose we’re not. You can’t ask for much more than that. We’re looking to play as hard as we possibly can. It’ll be a rock fight.”

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