WINSTED — Housatonic Regional took home the Berkshire League girls basketball tournament plaque for the first time in 21 years with a 45-37 win over Northwestern in Friday’s tournament final at Northwestern High School.
“Obviously, it feels great,” said senior Caroline Hurlburt, who shared team-high scoring honors with freshman center Sydney Segalla, each with 13 points.
“I’m really proud,” Hurlburt said. “We knew we could do it.”
Housy’s confidence came from an undefeated BL season (22-1 overall; 21-0 BL) in which they beat No. 2 seed Northwestern (20-3; 18-3 BL) twice for the Highlanders’ only two regular-season losses.
Nevertheless, an old sports maxim gives any coach pause.
“It’s hard to beat a good team three times in one season and Northwestern is a really good team,” Housatonic coach Steve Dodge said. “We came into this game with the attitude, ‘Let’s not leave any doubt.’”
— Elliott Polakoff (@ElliottPolakoff) February 23, 2019
Any Mountaineer doubts might have started in the first four minutes of Friday’s game when Northwestern forward Natalie Lederman (10 points) broke through a defensive struggle for the game’s first basket, followed by a three-pointer from Skylar DiMartino for a 5-0 Highlander lead.
In a game figuring to be low-scoring between teams priding themselves on ultra-tough defenses, a 5-0 Highlander lead was one thing. But Lederman, Jana Sanden and Emma Propfe were already establishing a Northwestern rebounding advantage that built to 34-21 for the game.
Still, the name of the game is putting it in the basket.
“We scored the first five points; then they ran off 11 straight points while we missed some bunnies,” Northwestern coach Fred Williams said.
“We shot 15 or 16 percent in the first half,” Williams added. “We struggled offensively because of their D.”
While Housy’s quickness caused the Highlanders to force some shots and hurry others, the same quickness worked at the other end for quick passes and moves under the basket. Hurlburt banked three first-quarter layups; Segalla had one; and point guard Sierra O’Niell sent home a three for an 11-7 lead by the end of the period.
Northwestern star Emma Propfe (game-high 14 points) had the only other Highlander points in the first quarter and hit a five-foot bank early in the second, but the Mountaineers were off and running with contributions from Hurlburt, O’Niel, Segalla and Christina Wilburn for a commanding 24-13 lead at the half.
Lederman, unstoppable on the boards, had all eight of Northwestern’s third-quarter points before going down with a twisted ankle with a minute left in the period.
Meanwhile, the Mountaineers kept rolling. Segalla and Winburn carried Housy to a 38-21 lead going into the final period.
Northwestern won the quarter 16-7 behind eight points from Propfe and four each by Sanden and Frankie DeSanti, but the Mountaineers coasted home on their first three quarters’ fortune.
“We’re going into states on a high note, after the regular-season and tournament championships,” Winburn said.
In the Berkshire League, there was never any real doubt.
HOUSATONIC 45, NORTHWESTERN 37
Frankie DeSanti 3-0-6; Skylar DiMartino 1-0-3; Emma Propfe 4-6-14; Natalie Lederman 4-2-10; Jana Sanden 2-0-4; Totals: 14-8-37.
Caroline Hurlburt 6-1-13; Sierra O’Niel 5-1-12; Sydney Segalla 6-1-13; Christina Winburn 3-1-7; Totals: 20-4-45.
NORTHWESTERN 7 6 8 16 — 37
HOUSATONIC 11 13 14 7 — 45
3-point goals: NW — DiMartino. H — O’Niel.
Records: Northwestern 20-3; 18-3 Berkshire League. Housatonic 22-1; 21-0 Berkshire League.