BELCHERTOWN — As the coach’s daughter, Sarah Woodcock is used to hearing her father mull over every game long after it ended.
She also hopes they have a few more left together on the Belchertown girls basketball team.
“It’s definitely sad,” said Woodcock, who has played under her father in soccer, basketball and softball over the years. “I’m definitely going to miss having him as my coach, as difficult as it can be to bite my tongue sometimes, I love having him as coach. He’s a great coach.”
Jason Woodcock first coached this year’s captains — Marissa Kopacz, Jillian Lund and Sarah Woodcock — on a CYO team in third grade. Now they are one game away from the Curry Hicks Cage.
“It’s going to be tough to see a lot of these kids go. I’ve known their families since they were young kids,” said Jason Woodcock, who has had other current Orioles on numerous teams through the years and also taught many of them as a history teacher at the school. “It will be hard to think we are spending our final days on the court together.”
On Tuesday night, the No. 5 Orioles made sure to keep the group together for at least a few more days via a 59-22 win over No. 12 Southwick in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament first round. Belchertown (15-6) plays at No. 4 Wahconah (11-9) of Dalton in the quarterfinals Saturday at 4:30 p.m. The winner advances to the semifinals at the Curry Hicks Cage.
“I have never played at the Cage and Marissa and Jill have. That was definitely a goal coming into the year, to play there,” Sarah Woodcock said. “It’s always tough to make that long trip to the Berkshires, sit on the bus for an hour and then play an intense game. Hopefully, we’ll bring the intensity and be ready to play a great game.”
On Tuesday, Téa Spellacy led all scorers with 19 points, while Jillian Cavanaugh added 10 and Kopacz nine.
Belchertown jumped out to an 18-8 lead through the first quarter and pushed the advantage to 33-15 at halftime.
“I think going we were pretty confident about this game was going to go,” Sarah Woodcock said. “We had good energy going in. Sometimes we lose it the way we did in the third quarter, but we are pretty good about getting it back together.”
The Orioles struggled in the third quarter and were outscored 7-5, but rallied with a 21-0 fourth to end the game.
“The only thing that stinks is that we were hoping to build a bigger lead earlier so we could get more minutes for more of the girls, but it didn’t work out that way,” Jason Woodcock said. “They came out and responded in the fourth quarter.”
Sarah Woodcock had four points Tuesday night. She has never been a scorer and generally has little interest in scoring, but it was a transition made by the 5-foot-11 forward that has been a big key to Belchertown’s success this season. Entering the year, the Orioles had plenty of size, but needed another player on the outside. It fell to her to make the change.
“I like it a lot better,” said Sarah Woodcock, who felt comfortable in the new spot a few games into the season. “I’m not a great shooter and I don’t like to shoot that much. Down low I got pushed around a lot. A lot of girls have more meat on their bones than I do, so that was kind of hard for me. I like to be outside. I like to feed the ball to Téa (outside) and Marissa down low. (Defensively) I’m on the wing rather than being in the middle and there are different responsibilities. I like my role this year a lot better.”
She has been an anchor on the defensive end, posing matchup problems on the wing in the team’s 1-3-1 zone defense. Offensively, her passing ability to the post and on skip passes has been a weapon leading to countless good looks for her teammates.
“She’s a very important part of this team,” Jason Woodcock said. “She does all the little things you need someone to do. Her length helps on ‘D.’ She doesn’t look for her shot much. Her passing into the post is incredible and she skips the ball very well. Every team needs someone like her.”
For at least one more game, talk around the house will revolve around basketball.
“She unfortunately has to listen to me deconstruct every game and point out what she didn’t do right, what I didn’t do right and all that,” Jason Woodcock said. “But she’s pretty good-natured about it.”
Sarah Woodcock added, “He loves talking about basketball and get more ideas. We talk about basketball at home a lot, but when we are on the court he treats me like any of his other players.”
Jim Pignatiello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GazetteHS.