Published: 07/17/2023 17:57:05
Modified: 2023-07-17 17:56:35
The West girls basketball team has taken the Bay State Games by storm in recent years.
After winning the gold medal last year, West returned to much of his roster this year as he looked to take home a second straight gold medal at Emmanuel College last weekend.
West opened the tournament with two wins on Friday, followed by victories over Southeast (51-30) and Northeast (66-32) on Saturday and Metro (70-45) on Sunday to earn a gold medal spot in the game Sunday in which it faced Metro for the second time.
Unlike the first game of the day, where West was in control from start to finish, Metro made sure the second time wasn’t going to be that easy. Metro cut the lead to two points in the last five minutes – the first time they’ve been tested late in a game – but West turned late to walk away with a 61-51 win and take the second gold medal in to secure sequence.
“It was a good day and a good tournament,” said West head coach Ralph Loos. “It was nice that we played back-to-back against the same team. We beat them in the first game, but in the second game they showed and fought hard. It was nerve wracking. It was a slap in the face, but we reacted well. It was good to have a competitive game.”
In West’s first game against Metro South, Hadley’s Drew Alley led by 17 points. Amherst’s Tessa Kawall scored 16 points, Greenfield’s Amber Bergeron threw 11 points and Chicopee’s Blaize Mack scored nine points for the win.
In Saturday’s win over Southeast, Bergeron led by 11 points, Mack finished with nine, Amherst’s Audrey Bowen threw in eight, while fellow Hurricane Niyami Adadevoh scored six.
In the win over Northeast, Easthampton’s Kayley Downie scored nine points as team leader, Monson’s Olivia Chrzan and Williston’s Margaret Edwards each scored eight points, Kawall seven points, Granby’s Aubrey Parent finished with six points and Amherst’s Sara Hastie scored a 3.
Although no MVP award was given, Loos, the girls’ head coach at Amherst High School, said there was one player who consistently stood out throughout the tournament.
“Give special recognition to Drew Alley,” Loos said. “She was phenomenal and the best player in the gym all weekend. She worked incredibly hard. I can’t say enough about how she played.”
However, it wasn’t just the performance of a single player that got the job done. Despite being an all-star team, the players quickly bonded and developed the chemistry on court to take home gold for the second year in a row.
“It felt special because of the way we played,” said Loos. “We played so well. They really came together as a team. That’s the tricky part of putting together an all-star team – you know they have talent, but you just hope the pieces will fall into place, and they did. We also did stuff off the pitch, which was fun. For me, the last game with all these Amherst kids was emotional. It was great to be there again.”
The two gold medals are a testament to the Western Mass. can compete with the rest of the state, and Loos said he hopes the recent trend of success can continue.
“If we go there, we might as well put the time and effort in and represent the best possible version of ourselves,” Loos said. “We do that for the teams that came before us and for the teams that will come after us. That’s one of the main reasons I keep doing it. This is my fifth time coaching this team and there haven’t been many gold medals for the west. It’s nice to drive in a row.”