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Blue Devils Top Purple Knights to Clinch Postseason Berth

The Northampton Blue Devils (10-3) earned their tenth win of the season Thursday night at Northampton High School with a 49-39 victory over the Holyoke Purple Knights (6-7). The Purple Knights kept the game close, but the Blue Devils ended up being too much for the visitors as Northampton completed their season sweep of Holyoke with this win and clinched the Blue Devils a berth in the playoffs.

“That was a big win for us,” said Blue Devils head coach Perry Messer after the game. “That qualified us for the tournament, so we’re in. That was the main goal for us at the beginning of the season: to get back into the tournament. After losing four starters from last year it’s a good accomplishment for this group. We’re just trying to get better every day.”

Northampton had defeated Holyoke 54-39 earlier this year, but the Purple Knights played a tough first half against the Blue Devils, who made multiple turnovers. A couple of baskets at the end of the second quarter gave Northampton a slight 24-20 edge at halftime. The Blue Devils were able to clean up their play in quarters three and four, however, propelling them to another double-digit victory against the Purple Knights.

“We had a little bit better execution,” Messer said of team’s second half performance. “We stopped turning the ball over. We were throwing the ball over the top and just making foolish passes to begin with. We executed our offensive shots a little bit better. We looked for where we should be getting the ball in the middle of the floor. And we buckled down on the defensive end of the floor.”

Northampton’s second half success was also due in large to part to the double-digit scoring of Lauraine Joenson (14 points, team-high), Lily Glading-DiLorenzo (12 points), and Charlotte Maurer (10 points). These three scorers led a late third quarter surge that gave the Blue Devils a 38-31 lead heading into the fourth quarter, and continued to make baskets the rest of the way to seal the home team’s win.

Holyoke’s offensive leaders were Callie Cavanaugh (14 points, team-high), Janitza Santiago (7 points), and Oksana Gonzalez (6 points). Gonzalez’s points come on two three-pointers early in the game that gave the Purple Knights an 8-2 lead, the only successful three-point shots for either of these teams in this game. Holyoke’s first half performance featured an 8-0 and an 8-2 run, but in the end, the Blue Devils overtook the Purple Knights.

Northampton faces of versus the Longmeadow Lancers (11-3) tonight at home. The Blue Devils have made the Western Massachusetts championship in each of the last two seasons.

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