MIAA girls basketball: Bri Heafey, Northampton hold off Mansfield for spot in Div. 2 quarterfinals (PHOTOS)

Northampton’s Ava Azzaro (13), left, drives to the basket before being fouled by Mansfield’s Ella Palanza (24) in the first quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton’s Ava Azzaro (13), left, drives to the basket before being fouled by Mansfield’s Ella Palanza (24) in the first quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Bri Heafey (5) drives to the hoop through Mansfield defenders Kelsey O’Connor (3), Kara Santos (12) and Keira Fitzpatrick (11) in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball Round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton’s Bri Heafey (5) drives to the hoop through Mansfield defenders Kelsey O’Connor (3), Kara Santos (12) and Keira Fitzpatrick (11) in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball Round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Bri Heafey (5) puts in a layup between Mansfield defenders Kelsey O’Connor (3) and Keira Fitzpatrick (11) after being fouled in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton’s Bri Heafey (5) puts in a layup between Mansfield defenders Kelsey O’Connor (3) and Keira Fitzpatrick (11) after being fouled in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton players Teagan McDonald (10), from left, Anna Oravec (11), Ava Azzaro (13) and Chloe Derby (12) help up Bri Heafey (5) after being fouled on a made basket against Mansfield in the last seconds in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball Round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton players Teagan McDonald (10), from left, Anna Oravec (11), Ava Azzaro (13) and Chloe Derby (12) help up Bri Heafey (5) after being fouled on a made basket against Mansfield in the last seconds in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball Round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton fans cheer after a basket by Bri Heafey (5) against Mansfield in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton fans cheer after a basket by Bri Heafey (5) against Mansfield in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton players cheer on the sideline in the last seconds against Mansfield in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton players cheer on the sideline in the last seconds against Mansfield in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Sarah Molnar (2), left, and Liv Joensen (33) defend against Mansfield’s Kelsey O’Connor (3 in the second quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton’s Sarah Molnar (2), left, and Liv Joensen (33) defend against Mansfield’s Kelsey O’Connor (3 in the second quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Chloe Derby (12) goes in for a breakaway layup past Mansfield defender Keira Fitzpatrick (11) in the second quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton’s Chloe Derby (12) goes in for a breakaway layup past Mansfield defender Keira Fitzpatrick (11) in the second quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Emme Calkins (4) puts up a shot against Mansfield in the third quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton’s Emme Calkins (4) puts up a shot against Mansfield in the third quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Ava Azzaro (13), right, puts up a shot from the baseline over Mansfield’s Ella Palanza (24) in the third quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton’s Ava Azzaro (13), right, puts up a shot from the baseline over Mansfield’s Ella Palanza (24) in the third quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Emme Calkins (4) puts up a shot against Mansfield in the third quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton’s Emme Calkins (4) puts up a shot against Mansfield in the third quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Sarah Molnar (2) puts up a shot against Mansfield in the first quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton’s Sarah Molnar (2) puts up a shot against Mansfield in the first quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Bri Heafey (5) puts in a breakaway layup against Mansfield in the first quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton’s Bri Heafey (5) puts in a breakaway layup against Mansfield in the first quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Bri Heafey (5) puts in a breakaway layup against Mansfield in the third quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton’s Bri Heafey (5) puts in a breakaway layup against Mansfield in the third quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Chloe Derby (12) takes a three-point shot over Mansfield defender Keira Fitzpatrick (11) in the third quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton’s Chloe Derby (12) takes a three-point shot over Mansfield defender Keira Fitzpatrick (11) in the third quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Chloe Derby (12) takes a three-point shot against Mansfield in the second quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton’s Chloe Derby (12) takes a three-point shot against Mansfield in the second quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Anna Oravec (11) fights for a rebound against Mansfield defenders Keira Fitzpatrick (11) and Ella Palanza (24) in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton’s Anna Oravec (11) fights for a rebound against Mansfield defenders Keira Fitzpatrick (11) and Ella Palanza (24) in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Ava Azarro (13) charges to the hoop against Mansfield in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton’s Ava Azarro (13) charges to the hoop against Mansfield in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton Teagan McDonald (10) puts up a shot against Mansfield in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton Teagan McDonald (10) puts up a shot against Mansfield in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Bri Heafey (5) drives down the court defended by Mansfield’s Sophia Foley (25) in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton’s Bri Heafey (5) drives down the court defended by Mansfield’s Sophia Foley (25) in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton head coach Perry Messer applauds his team after scoring against Mansfield in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton head coach Perry Messer applauds his team after scoring against Mansfield in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Bri Heafey (5) attempts a reverse layup against Mansfield in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton’s Bri Heafey (5) attempts a reverse layup against Mansfield in the fourth quarter of the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Northampton’s Sarah Molnar cheers with the sideline players in the fourth quarter against Mansfield during the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton.

Northampton’s Sarah Molnar cheers with the sideline players in the fourth quarter against Mansfield during the MIAA Division 2 girls basketball round of 16 game Tuesday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By GEORGE MILLER

For the Gazette

Published: 03-05-2024 9:33 PM

Modified: 03-05-2024 11:08 PM


NORTHAMPTON — They may not have been the biggest 30 seconds of Bri Heafey's playing career, but they may have felt like 30 minutes as they played out.

Northampton led Mansfield 46-44 in the final minute of their girls MIAA Division 2 Round of 16 tournament game Tuesday night at Feiker Gym. At the 42-second mark, the Blue Devils' Teagan McDonald was fouled by Mansfield's Ella Palanza, who fouled out in the process. McDonald went to the line for a pair of free throws, missed both, but teammate Ava Azzaro came down with the key offensive rebound and slipped the ball to Heafey.

The junior then snaked and wound her way through the offensive half of the floor, avoiding several defenders as Mansfield made no move to foul. The clock rolled down to 12 seconds as Heafey drove in left of the lane, sank a runner in traffic while bumped by the Hornets' Kelsey O'Connor, and gave the hosts a two-possession lead, 48-44.

Although Heafey missed the free throw, Mansfield advanced the ball and called a timeout with seven seconds to play. From there, though, Katelyn Troilo missed a 3-pointer out of the left corner, freshman Anna Oravec corralled the rebound for Northampton, and the Blue Devils survived with a pulsating 48-44 victory.

Northampton, the No. 7 seed in Division 2, improved to 19-4 and advanced to a state quarterfinal at No. 2 Walpole (17-5), which defeated Reading Memorial on Tuesday, 56-47. As the top seed in 2023, Walpole thumped Northampton, 63-35, in the D2 Round of 32.

“I was just trying to keep possession of the ball, not turn it over, and I just wanted to dribble it out and waste as much as time as I could,” said Heafey of the play. “The middle was open, so I drove and tried to draw a foul. That prayer of a shot went in, so it worked out in my favor. I put the right spin on it and I knew it had a chance of going in. This time it did, so I was excited.”

Heafey led all scorers with 24 points and Azzaro contributed 15, accounting for 39 of the Blue Devils' 48 points between them. Azzaro also made 6-of-6 clutch foul shots in the final quarter.

“Bri saw her opening and took it,” said Blue Devils coach Perry Messer. “She's one of the smartest players on the floor. She sees where the ball needs to get to and she's not afraid to take the big shot when it's needed.

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“I don't think we played that well on the offensive end, but we did just enough defensively. We made enough plays and that's what counts at tournament time.”

Kara Santos (13 points), Palanza (11) and Sophia Foley (10) reached double figures for 10th-seeded Mansfield (18-5), with Troilo adding eight.

The Hornets led 14-9 late in the first quarter before Heafey banked in a three from the top of the arc to pull Hamp to within 14-12. The hosts then scored the first eight points of the second quarter, limited Mansfield to one field goal and four points with nine turnovers, and Azzaro muscled in a layup with 21 seconds to go as the Blue Devils took a 26-18 lead to the locker room.

Heafey began the third quarter with another 3-ball just 16 seconds in, putting Northampton up 29-18. After Heafey's basket with 6:13 to play, though, the Blue Devils managed only one point in the next six minutes. Heafey put back a missed 3-pointer by Emme Calkins with 10 seconds left to make the score 34-29, but Mansfield still had time for Foley to beat the buzzer with a layup, bringing the visitors within 34-31.

Northampton led by as many as five points on four separate occasions in the fourth quarter. Azzaro's two free throws made it 44-40 with 3:04 remaining, before Troilo split two defenders for a layup and Foley scored off an inbounds pass at the 1:31 mark to tie the game.

Azzaro then drained two more at the line with 1:14 to go to put Hamp up by two and set the stage for Heafey's clock-killing dribble-fest.

“We've got a tough matchup, and we know (Walpole) is a really good team. They're the No. 2 seed for a reason,” said Messer. “But we wouldn't want it any other way. We might as well take it the tough way, go down there and try to earn one.”