Two contrasting styles met on the hardwood of North Adams High School on Dec. 30 to decide the varsity girls championship of the 2015 McDonald’s Classic. On one side was the slow-paced, 2-3 zone, and patient offense of Coach Vohn Hoop and his Peebles Lady Indians, while on the other side waited the frenetic, high pressure, in-your-face defense style of Coach Rob Davis and his North Adams Lady Devils. Something had to give and after a close first quarter, a huge 26-2 run propelled the Lady Devils to a 58-38 win and a first place trophy in the Classic.
“We had a little close start and then Staci Dinsmore picked it up and we started to turn them over,” said Coach Davis after the win. “Their zone is good and hard to crack at times so we knew we had to force turnovers and get into transition.”
“It makes us happy to see the girls do the things that we work on in practice.”
As expected, the pace of the game at its outset was slow with neither team scoring until a pair of Jessica Sowards free throws gave Peebles a 2-0 lead at the 6:21 mark. North Adams answered right back when Lakyn Hupp drilled a three from the corner, but the Peebles response was a Sowards trey to put her squad back in front. Hupp hit an off balance shot in the lane to tie the game at 5, but the Lady Indians went long distance again with Kaitlin Toller connecting from the top of the key to put Peebles back on top.
That Toller three may have been the spark that lit the Lady Devils’ flame as they dialed up their patented defensive pressure to get two easy Staci Dinsmore baskets and a Taylor Hesler score to take the lead at 11-8, a lead they never gave up. After Peebles’ McKinlee Ryan hit a jumper to keep it close,the Lady Devils closed the first period on a 6-0 run, getting a three from the corner by Maddie Toole and a three-point play from Dinsmore to close out a 12-2 spurt and lead 17-10.
That big run continued into the second quarter as the Lady Devils continued to convert Peebles turnovers into points. The Lady Indians turned the ball over on their first four possessions of the second quarter and the host team took full advantage, scoring each time as part of a 14-0 run. When Avery Harper hit a pair of free throws with 4:40 left in the first half, the Lady Devils had built their lead to a commanding 31-10. Peebles finally broke a six-minute scoring drought when Sowards hit another three and moments later, Ryan did the same to make it 33-16. The Lady Indians actually finished the first half on a 10-4 run, but at the break, it was still North Adams in front, 35-20.
That brief spurt at the end of the first half gave hope to the Lady Indians but the beginning of the third quarter squashed that pretty quickly when North Adams got a pair of Hesler buckets, plus a basket and two free throws from Harper as part of an 8-0 run that resulted in a 43-20 lead. After Hupp hit a three of her own and then two more baskets in succession, the run became one of 15-2 and the Lady Devils rolled into the fourth quarter with a championship in sight, in front now 50-24.
The scrappy Lady Indians opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer by Baylee Justice and then got two more from behind the arc from Sowards and Jerilin Toller in a 9-2 run. Harper made a pretty inside move for a left-handed layup as time began to wind down on Peebles and North Adams kept their big lead. A basket by Grace McDowell with two minutes left put the Lady Devils on top 58-35 and the final basket of this championship tilt was the fourth Sowards three of the night, but when all was said and done, the title trophy stayed in North Adams, with a 58-38 victory for the Lady Devils.
In the win, the Lady Devils (8-2) were led by Classic MVP Staci Dinsmore, who again made her presence known on both ends of the court, tallying 17 points and 7 steals, while dishing out 8 assists. Also named to the Classic All-Tournament Team was teammate Avery Harper who had a title game stat line of 16 points and 6 rebounds. Lakyn Hupp was also likely deserving of an All-Tourney spot as she added 12 points and 3 steals in the win.
“If Staci comes out to play, there’s nobody better,” said Coach Davis. “Sometimes she just doesn’t realize how good she can be. Avery just keeps getting better with every game. She is one of the best post players in the league.”
For Peebles (4-7), Jessica Sowards led the way and earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team with 16 points, with McKenzie Swango adding 6 and McKinlee Ryan and Jerilin Toller 5 each. Baylee Justice scored 3 in the finals, but her all-around play in two games earned her a berth on the All-Tournament Team.
In a quirk of scheduling, the two teams were right back on the floor at North Adams on Monday, Jan. 4 in Southern Hills Athletic Conference play. Look for a report on that contest in the upcoming weekend edition of The People’s Defender.