Category Archives: Hoosac Valley

Hopedale never trails defeating Hoosac Valley 55-45 for Division 5 girls state title

The Hopedale team in front of their student section
Bri Frongillo (23 points)

(Lowell) Every time Hoosac Valley got close, Hopedale had answers.

In each of the first three quarters, the Hurricanes got within one point but never led.

The result was a 55-45 Hopedale win and ownership of their first Division 5 state girls title on Sunday afternoon at the Tsongas Arena.

“They’re a good team,” said Hopedale coach Jason Rojee of Hoosac Valley afterwards.  “You couldn’t keep them down.  They kept fighting.”

Averie McGrath (16 points)

“We never got over the hump and actually took the lead,” explained Hoosac Valley head coach Holly McGovern.  “If we had, you never know what could have happened.”

There was a well-known player in the game, and it was Hopedale’s Bri Frongillo.  Her 28 points-per-game average and recruitment by D1 Bryant University prevented her from coming into this one unnoticed. 

Bri collected twenty-three points this afternoon and had a heavy hand in Hopedale responses to Hoosac Valley rallies. She also became the all-time leading scorer at Hopedale.

Battle for control

“They were a tough team,” said Bri afterwards.  “They didn’t give up and kept coming back.”

Seniors Rylynn Witek (15 points) and Averie McGrath (16 points) paced the team from Cheshire.

After Averie brought Hoosac to 7-6, Phoebe Carroll (11 points) and Bri scored consecutive baskets.  Bri’s came off a steal.

In the second quarter it was a steal and a layup by Rylynn that had Hoosac near to the lead (24-23).  But the Raiders responded with three’s from Nora Hodgens and Lilah Casey (14 points), plus a Phoebe Carroll layup, and separation was restored.

Lilah Casey (14 points)

But not for long.

A three by Averie and two free throws from Gabby Billetz and once again Hoosac was close (31-30), this time it was in the third quarter. 

Tell me you haven’t heard this before, Hopedale responded.  This time it was with the long ball, as both Lilah Casey and Bri Frongillo cashed in from beyond the arc.

“We played good defense,” said Coach McGovern, “but they made timely shots.”

The Hurricanes trailed by eleven (45-34) with six minutes to go and chipped away to cut their deficit to five (50-45) with 1:38 remaining.

Tie up between Phoebe Carroll and Taylor Garabedian

Big play alert!  The Raiders missed their next shot, but eighth-grader Phoebe Carroll got the offensive rebound, scored and was fouled.

Rylynn Witek (15 points)

“We had a couple of big rebounds,” said Coach Rojee, “but that rebound and putback by Phoebe at the end was phenomenal for an eighth-grader.”

One source reported that Phoebe had twenty-three rebounds.  Good luck to opponents when she gets a little older!

Hopedale (22-3) is from the Dual Valley Conference while Hoosac Valley (22-4) plays in the Suburban Division of the Pioneer Valley Conference.

Coach Rojee: “The key to our win was perseverance. We had to play good defense for thirty-two minutes.  It has been so nice to have Bri Frongillo on the team.  She’s awesome.”

Bri Frangillo goes baseline

Lilah Casey: “We came in with confidence and we worked as a team.  We kept telling ourselves that we had to stay together, and we did.”

Bri Frongillo: “This win was the result of a lot of hard work during the season.  We put in the time behind the scene.”

Coach McGovern: “Rylynn (Witek) and Averie (McGrath) have been a heckuva one-two punch for teams to contend with.  They have also been wonderful role models for our younger players.”

Bri Frongillo was capable of scoring from anywhere.  Single coverage didn’t work.  She could get to the basket with either hand and make layups with either hand.  Her best feature, in my opinion, was her excellent passes to teammates.  She should do well at Bryant.

Hopedale   15   14   12   14   =   55

Hoosac       13   10   11   11   =   45

(The pictures will enlarge.)

Hopedale behind the banner
Bri Frongillo at the line
Phoebe Carroll and Rylynn Witek
Nora Hodgens takes a shot
Lilah Casey takes a shot
Bri Frongillo surrounded
Alyssa Garabedian shoots
Lilah Casey and Averie McGrath
Rebound battle
Averie McGrath
Bri Frongillo
Hoosac Valley box
Hopedale box

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St. Mary’s routs Hoosac Valley 74-36 to take Division 3 state title

Brianna Rudolph, Jennie Mucciarone, and Sharell Sanders with D3 state title trophy

Brianna Rudolph, Jennie Mucciarone, and Sharell Sanders with D3 state title trophy

(Worcester MA) Hoosac Valley’s plan was to use their speed, force turnovers and make three’s.

Those three had carried the Hurricanes to a 23-win season.

Then along came St. Mary’s in the Division 3 state finals on Saturday morning at the DCU Center in Worcester.

Brianna Rudolph, Sharell Sanders, and Jennie Mucciarone on the break

Brianna Rudolph, Sharell Sanders, and Jennie Mucciarone on the break

Nothing worked for the team from Cheshire and they were buried by the Spartans from Lynn, 74-36, ending a seventeen-game winning streak.

Brianna Rudolph starts to drive

Brianna Rudolph starts to drive

Before the game I had a chat with someone who hadn’t seen St. Mary’s play.  I told them that I doubted that Hoosac Valley had faced a player like Brianna Rudolph.  (I had seen Brianna carry St. Mary’s past Archbishop Williams, 47-45, in the D3 state semi-finals.)

It didn’t take Brianna (Division 1 UMass Lowell commit) long to prove my point.  The Spartans broke away from the Hurricanes in the first three minutes with Brianna (26 points) tallying eight straight – three layups and a jump shot.

That run in the first period gave St. Mary’s (24-2) their initial separation and there was no looking back.

Jen Gale eyes the hoop

Jen Gale eyes the hoop

The ‘Canes were able to stem the tide a couple of times but the lead kept growing.

The Spartans, winners of nine straight, had point runs of: eight, ten, thirteen, eight, and nine.

The only run that the Lady Canes from the Berkshire Country League put together was eight, late in the final quarter.  Three’s by freshman Kailynne Frederick and Maddie Ryan keyed those consecutive points.  Those were the only 3’s Hoosac Valley would get.

This game went from “still undecided” to “out-of-reach,” four minutes into the second half.  During a five minute stretch, starting with a minute left in the second quarter, St. Mary’s outscored the Lady Canes, 21-2, on their way to a 53-19 advantage with twelve minutes of playing time left.

Gianna Moschella (14 points) looks for a rebound along side #22 Maddie Ryan

Gianna Moschella (14 points) looks for a rebound along side #22 Maddie Ryan

Jennie Mucciarone had a layup and three assists in the big run.  Reserve Gianna Moschella added an old-fashioned three and two layups.

Softball has a mercy rule and I couldn’t help thinking that the need for those final twelve minutes to be played (with a team down 34) didn’t seem necessary.  But it was played and St. Mary’s won, 74-36.

It was obvious early on that HV was not going to be able to force the Spartans into turnovers that would lead to quick baskets.  Too many good passers and dribblers on the St. Mary’s team.

Unable to turn pressure into scores the Lady Canes fell back into a half-court defense that had no answers for the take-it-to-the-basket Spartans.

Senior Sharell Sanders ended up with thirteen points including eleven in the first half.  The terrific point guard will be playing for Division 2 Caldwell College (New Jersey) next season.

Sharell Sanders (13 points) finds a direct route to the basket

Sharell Sanders (13 points) finds a direct route to the basket

Another Spartans senior, Jennie Mucciarone sat out the second period with three fouls but was big in St. Mary’s pull away in the second half.  Jennie will play at Division 3 Tufts next season.

Brianna Rudolph (26 points) ended her Spartans career in wonderful fashion.  She was part of a man-to-man defense that had HV going east-to-west in the front court most of the game.  Brianna will be at UMass Lowell in the fall.

Sophomores Kayla Carter (10 points) and Gianna Moschella (14 points) would suggest that the well is far from dry at St. Mary’s.

Maddie Ryan paced Hoosac Valley with ten points.

There was never a lack of effort on HV’s part.  They finish 23-2.

St. Mary’s boxscore

Hoosac Valley’s boxscore

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

McKenzie Robinson

McKenzie Robinson

Spartans coach Jeff Newhall with Brianna Rudolph afterwards

Spartans coach Jeff Newhall with Brianna Rudolph afterwards

team picture afterwards

team picture afterwards

Fallon Field drives on Sophia Holmes

Fallon Field drives on Sophia Holmes

Sharell Sanders

Sharell Sanders

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Brianna Rudolph brilliant in St. Mary’s 47-45 win over Archbishop Williams – Hoosac Valley next in D3 title game

Sharell Sanders gets open in the lane for game winner after pass from Brianna Rudolph

Sharell Sanders gets open in the lane for game winner after pass from Brianna Rudolph

Jennie Mucciarone signals the win as Brianna Rudolph (31 points) dribbles out the clock.

Jennie Mucciarone signals the win as Brianna Rudolph (31 points) dribbles out the clock.

(Amesbury MA)  St. Mary’s 47, Archbishop Williams 45.

Quite a remarkable game.  I saw the end of it and took some pictures of the excitement.

Anyone who saw that game on Tuesday afternoon at the TD Garden will use two words to explain how St. Mary’s won: Brianna Rudolph.

The MIAA may have had Brianna’s name wrong in the program (“Nicole,”) but both teams were keenly aware of her.  I never saw a Spartans’ possession in the frontcourt where the ball wasn’t in her hands.  For the Archies, every Brianna free-throw attempt was an opportunity to swing into the Christmas spirit with a student-section rendition of “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

Brianna Rudolph took thirty shots including this tough one in traffic

Brianna Rudolph took thirty shots including this tough one in traffic

The second-half numbers clearly reveal the impact Brianna had in getting St. Mary’s a Division 3 state semifinals win.  The Spartans’ senior was directly responsible for twenty-three of St. Mary’s twenty-seven second half points.  After Brianna reached nineteen points in the second half she then assisted on the tying basket (Kayla Carter) and the winning basket (Sharell Sanders) late in the game.

Brianna (UMass Lowell commit) did finish with thirty-one points but those last two assists were more important to the final score than any of the points.

The entire early run of stories about the St. Mary’s/Archbishop Williams game missed the significant point that Alana Gilmer was defending Brianna.

The last two games I saw the Archies play were in last year’s D3 state semifinals and finals.  Alana put up points but it was her defense that paved the way for AW wins over Pentucket and Lee.

Alana Gilmer had six blocks including this one on Brianna Rudolph

Alana Gilmer had six blocks including this one on Brianna Rudolph

Against Pentucket (state semifinals), 6-foot Alana limited Coley Viselli to three points.  Against Lee (state finals) Alana held Stephanie Young also to three points.  Both of those talented seniors were 1000-point scorers who had shot over and driven around many previous defenders.  But not Alana.  She is tall enough to make the 3-point shot less wide open and fast enough to keep contact on a drive.  She is very good at blocking shots and got Brianna several times.

Anyhow, my point in that this was no random defender on Brianna.  But she got thirty-one points.  How?  Speed and a quick jump shot off the dribble.

That jump shot allows a shorter player to be into the jump shot before the taller defender is set to block the attempt.  Brianna used that jump shot to get open several times against Alana who is four inches taller.

The Archies did a terrific job against the Spartans’ 1000-point scorer Jennie Mucciarone.  A very helpful stat sheet (Thank you, MIAA!) revealed that Jennie missed all fifteen shots she took.  There’s more to that story………at least ten of those shots were blocked!  AW had sixteen blocks.  The Archies were able to throw Jennie off her game the same way Alana had thrown Coley Viselli and Stephanie Young off their games the previous tournament season.

St. Mary’s last two baskets were very similar.  Brianna drove in from the left into a double-team.  Both times she had the good basketball sense to realize that teammates were open……..and they were open in close.  First it was sophomore Kayla Carter in the low key wide open, and then it was senior Sharell Sanders in the same spot for the eventual game-winner.  In both cases, Brianna’s passes turned into perfect setups.

Alana Gilmer (18 points) takes a last-minute shot defended by Kayla Carter and Sharell Sanders

Alana Gilmer (18 points) takes a last-minute shot defended by Kayla Carter and Sharell Sanders

Archbishop Williams had a timeout and twenty seconds to do something about STM’s two-point (47-45) lead.  I never doubted that Alana (18 points) would get the final shot.  She ended up with a contested (Kayla Carter & Sharell Sanders) jump shot along the baseline which rimmed out.  After a scramble, Kayla came up with the rebound and called a timeout with 2.3 seconds left.  After a timeout, the Spartans got the ball into Brianna’s hands to dribble out the clock.

The win earns St. Mary’s a trip to the DCU Center in Worcester on Saturday for a title game against Hoosac Valley at 10:45AM.

Hoosac Valley is from Cheshire which is in the northwest corner of Massachusetts about fifteen minutes from the New York and Vermont borders.

The Hurricanes are 23-1 and won their state semifinals game by two points over Bellingham.  HV lost that same game last year.

Brianna gets inside Alana for two

Brianna gets inside Alana for two

Their only loss?  To a team from Ohio (Austintown Fitch) in Florida during winter break.

In twenty-two of the Hurricanes’ wins they have won by more than ten points.

According to Hoosac’s coach (Ron Wojcik), Austintown Fitch was the, “only team able to handle our pressure and keep turnovers down.”

St. Mary’s had only six turnovers against Archbishop Williams.  Look for them to keep the ball in the hands of Sharell Sanders and Brianna Rudolph.

St. Mary’s won the state title in 2011 over Lee.

Halftime box

Full-game box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

team picture

team picture

Leah Spencer (14 points) leads a break

Leah Spencer (14 points) leads a break

Alana Gilmer

Alana Gilmer

Brianna Rudolph shoots

Brianna Rudolph shoots

Jennie Mucciarone gets her shot blocked by two Archies

Jennie Mucciarone gets her shot blocked by two Archies

Sophomore Victoria Dean

Sophomore Victoria Dean

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