You can tell a lot about a basketball team from the approach they take on defense and South Hadley's dedication to the full court press puts opponents under a constant state of pressure. Leading the charge is sophomore Sophie Gatzounis, who may not be the oldest girl on the floor but her tenacity sets her apart from most.
“We will press every team and that just how we play our game,” said Sophie. “Pressure, pressure, pressure. Fast breaks. Our game is just very fast paced.”
“She can defend, where a lot of girls don't like playing defense,” admitted head coach Paul Dubuc. “She will defend all day. She doesn't really care if she scores and we really don't draw a lot of plays for her. We tell her to go get the ball and score.”
And score she does. Sophie leads the Tigers in points per game this year averaging just over 22 points per game in the regular season. That offensive boost helped South Hadle secure the number five seed heading into the Division III tournament. However, their unique style of play, using two separate units of five shows the depth of this team.
“We have a deep roster so that is really important that we are able to go with five in and five off,” said Sophie. “The people that walk on the court are able to pick it up just as easily those who were on the court previously.”
After a decisive first round win over Greenfield, South Hadley will face Hampshire on Friday as they look to advance in the tournament.
“My role is just as big as everyone else's on this team we just have to carry our weight which is important and we all do. I'm just a member of a team and every one loves it and everyone has fun.”
“We call her a basketball player,” said Coach Dubuc. We don't call her a 1,2,3 or 4. We just say, ‘Sophie go out and play basketball,' and she goes and plays. That's what she does.”
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