Class B final: Drew Alley, South Hadley rally past Pittsfield for program’s 1st-ever WMass title (PHOTOS)

South Hadley players celebrate after defeating Pittsfield 48-40 to win the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

South Hadley players celebrate after defeating Pittsfield 48-40 to win the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s CC Gurek, left, and Drew Alley receive the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship plaque after defeating Pittsfield 48-40 on Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

South Hadley’s CC Gurek, left, and Drew Alley receive the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship plaque after defeating Pittsfield 48-40 on Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley poses for a team photo after winning the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship against Pittsfield on Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

South Hadley poses for a team photo after winning the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship against Pittsfield on Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley players take a team photo with their fans after winning the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship against Pittsfield on Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

South Hadley players take a team photo with their fans after winning the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship against Pittsfield on Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Drew Alley (1) drives past Pittsfield defender Kyana Summers (13) in the third quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

South Hadley’s Drew Alley (1) drives past Pittsfield defender Kyana Summers (13) in the third quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

The South Hadley sideline celebrates after scoring against Pittsfield in the fourth quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

The South Hadley sideline celebrates after scoring against Pittsfield in the fourth quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Cara Dean (12) goes in for a layup against Pittsfield in the third quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

South Hadley’s Cara Dean (12) goes in for a layup against Pittsfield in the third quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Kate Phillips (24) puts up a shot over Pittsfield defender Britain Sadowy (14) in the third quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

South Hadley’s Kate Phillips (24) puts up a shot over Pittsfield defender Britain Sadowy (14) in the third quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Caitlin Dean (14) fights for a jump ball against Pittsfield defenders Kyana Summers (13), left, and Harolyn Castillo (5) in the third quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

South Hadley’s Caitlin Dean (14) fights for a jump ball against Pittsfield defenders Kyana Summers (13), left, and Harolyn Castillo (5) in the third quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Maddie Soderbaum (3) drives to the hoop against Pittsfield’s Caroline Sherman (12) in the second quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

South Hadley’s Maddie Soderbaum (3) drives to the hoop against Pittsfield’s Caroline Sherman (12) in the second quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s CC Gurek (11) drives the ball against Pittsfield in the third quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

South Hadley’s CC Gurek (11) drives the ball against Pittsfield in the third quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Maddie Soderbaum (3) puts up a shot over Pittsfield’s Kyana Summers (13) in the second quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

South Hadley’s Maddie Soderbaum (3) puts up a shot over Pittsfield’s Kyana Summers (13) in the second quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Ava Asselin (10) gets fouled on the way to the hoop against Pittsfield in the fourth quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

South Hadley’s Ava Asselin (10) gets fouled on the way to the hoop against Pittsfield in the fourth quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Drew Alley (1) puts in a layup against Pittsfield in the fourth quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

South Hadley’s Drew Alley (1) puts in a layup against Pittsfield in the fourth quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Drew Alley (1) puts in a breakaway layup against Pittsfield in the fourth quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

South Hadley’s Drew Alley (1) puts in a breakaway layup against Pittsfield in the fourth quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Kate Phillips (24) puts up a shot over Pittsfield’s Charlotte Goodnow (3) in the fourth quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

South Hadley’s Kate Phillips (24) puts up a shot over Pittsfield’s Charlotte Goodnow (3) in the fourth quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Drew Alley (1) drives to the hoop against Pittsfield in the fourth quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

South Hadley’s Drew Alley (1) drives to the hoop against Pittsfield in the fourth quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Drew Alley (1) puts up a shot over Pittsfield’s Charlotte Goodnow (3) in the fourth quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

South Hadley’s Drew Alley (1) puts up a shot over Pittsfield’s Charlotte Goodnow (3) in the fourth quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley’s Caitlin Dean (14) puts in a layup against Pittsfield in the fourth quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

South Hadley’s Caitlin Dean (14) puts in a layup against Pittsfield in the fourth quarter of the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

South Hadley players celebrate after defeating Pittsfield 48-40 to win the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College.

South Hadley players celebrate after defeating Pittsfield 48-40 to win the Western Mass. Class B girls basketball championship Saturday at Holyoke Community College. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By CONNOR PIGNATELLO

Staff Writer

Published: 02-24-2024 6:10 PM

Modified: 02-24-2024 10:40 PM


HOLYOKE – At the turn of the New Year, the South Hadley girls basketball team sat at 3-3.

Fifteen games later, they’re 18-3, and for the first time in school history, Western Mass. champions.

On Saturday afternoon at Holyoke Community College, the No. 2 Tigers outlasted top-seeded Pittsfield 48-40 to claim the Class B title.

“Now I’m not the only one at my house without [a title],” South Hadley head coach Paul Dubuc joked. “All three of my sons have one.”

Dubuc’s coaching staff, which includes multiple members of his family, has been together for more than a decade. In a loaded day of action for the Dubucs, Paul’s son Dylan played for a Western Mass. championship of his own a few hours later as No. 3 Granby battled No. 1 Mahar in the Class C boys basketball finals (a 47-34 Mahar win).

To reach South Hadley’s sixth-ever Western Mass. final, the Tigers beat Easthampton 60-39 in the quarterfinals and SICS 65-59 in the semifinals. They were 0-5 in previous sectional final appearances, including a loss most recently in 2022.

Pittsfield and South Hadley are known for their staunch defenses, and Saturday’s game was chock-full of physicality. There were nearly a dozen tie-ups, and with both teams playing a full-court press, about twice as many steals. That resulted in some extreme swings.

South Hadley went on a 10-0 run to start the second quarter up 18-8, but Pittsfield came roaring back, stopping the Tigers from scoring a point for a stretch of almost eight minutes and taking a lead that grew as large as 27-20. 

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Two men dump milk, orange juice over themselves at Amherst convenience store
Three Amherst Regional Middle School counselors absolved of Title IX offenses
Springfield man charged with murder in Holyoke stabbing
Lawmakers, Jewish groups accuse Massachusetts Teachers Association of bias
‘Our hearts were shattered’: Moved by their work in Mexico soup kitchen, Northampton couple takes action
Hadley’s Brad Mish, Northampton’s Elianna Shwayder top Hampshire County finishers at 128th Boston Marathon

The Tigers came back to tie it, but Pittsfield’s press caused turnover after turnover from the Tigers, which called timeout down 38-34 midway through the fourth quarter. 

“We all knew what we needed to do,” South Hadley senior guard Drew Alley said. “We just had to catch our breath, keep it under control.”

From then on, it was all South Hadley. The Tigers closed the game on a 14-2 run. They outscored Pittsfield 20-6 in the fourth quarter to rally and run away for the win.

“We knew we were going to go on another run eventually,” Dubuc said. “We didn’t know when and we might not have, but Joe (Racicot, Pittsfield head coach) said when we shook hands, ‘you guys had the last run.’”

That run might not have materialized earlier this year.

“With a young team, we’ve definitely matured throughout the season,” Alley said. “Being able to keep our composure now, at the end of the season, was a key factor today. A game like that earlier in the season, we might’ve lost our composure.”

Alley was key down the stretch, scoring on a couple tough drives and hitting her teammates with some crucial feeds. She finished with a game-best 18 points, with almost all of them coming on contested shots at the rim.

Cara Dean, Caitlin Dean and Kate Phillips all made shots in the Tigers’ game-defining run. Cara Dean finished as South Hadley’s second-leading scorer with 10 points, including a pair of second-half 3-pointers that tied or gave South Hadley the lead.

Caitlin Dean and CC Gurek each added six points apiece, while Kate Phillips and Ava Asselin rounded out the scoring with four points each for South Hadley.

The Tigers aren’t done yet, though. They’ll start their state tournament this week, and they’re seeded third in the MIAA Division 4 field.

“We’re definitely looking forward to keeping the streak alive as we go into states,” Alley said. “We haven’t won a state championship either, so that would be a great way to end my senior year.”