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Housy beats Nonnewaug in quarterfinal clash

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FALLS VILLAGE — Housatonic Valley Regional High School (HVRHS) girls basketball advanced to the Berkshire League (BL) tournament semifinals after a 34-31 win over Nonnewaug High School Friday, Feb. 16, in the opening round.

The game went back and forth for four quarters before the Mountaineers pulled ahead in the final seconds and hung on for the victory. HVRHS’ voracious man-to-man defense tipped the scale in this otherwise evenly matched showdown. The Mountaineers secured revenge over the Chiefs, who eliminated HVRHS last year in the 2023 BL tournament.

Kylie Leonard and Ireland Starziski battled from start to finish in what proved to be the most critical matchup of the game. Photo by Riley Klein

It would be hard to find two more balanced teams, which both ended the season in a deadlock tie. HVRHS was seeded fourth in the tournament and hosted the quarterfinal game after winning a coin toss to determine home-court advantage against Nonnewaug. 

Action got underway with Nonnewaug scoring back-to-back easy layups. HVRHS then embraced coach Jake Plitt’s defensive scheme, particularly Kylie Leonard, who stuck to Nonnewaug’s star guard Ireland Starziski like glue. Leonard rose to the challenge and relentlessly pestered Starziski from baseline to baseline. 

HVRHS took a narrow 11-10 lead at the end of the first quarter. Nonnewaug briefly reclaimed the lead in the second quarter before Leonard took a charge from Starziski at midcourt and stopped Nonnewaug’s momentum in its tracks.

By halftime, HVRHS led 19-14. Coming out of the locker room, the Mountaineers looked relaxed with smiles all around. On the other end of the court, the Chiefs glared with determined intensity.

The HVRHS bench jumped with joy after the Mountaineers secured a win over Nonnewaug in the opening round of the Berkshire League tournament Feb. 16. Photo by Riley Klein

Nonnewaug seized control and went on an 8-0 run to open the half. HVRHS snapped back to reality and resumed lockdown defense. 

Entering the final quarter, the game was tied at 25-25. Leonard got things going by nailing a three-pointer to open the period. Nonnewaug responded and clawed back to a 31-30 lead with less than two minutes to go.

The refs were letting them play and keeping their whistles silent. HVRHS’ Daniella Brennan took control down the stretch with a remarkable sequence. She reeled in an offensive rebound and scored the go-ahead basket to take a 32-31 lead. On Nonnewaug’s next possession, Brennan ripped the ball from the Chiefs’ guard and stormed down court with the time ticking away. Lou Haemmerle iced the game with a layup as the buzzer blared.

HVRHS won 34-31 and advanced to the BL semifinals. Players rejoiced as the home crowd cheered on the victors.

Leonard finished with a team-high nine points and held Starziski to a total of two points in the game. Daniella Brennan scored seven points. Tessa Dekker and Haemmerle each scored six points for the Mountaineers.

Nonnewaug was led in scoring by Juliette Nichols with 14 points. Emma Jackson scored eight points.

HVRHS advanced to the semifinals to play Thomaston on neutral ground at Shepaug Valley High School Tuesday, Feb. 20.

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