By Chris Villani

Sports Reporter/Columnist

The Blackstone Valley Tech girls’ basketball team overcame early jitters to outlast Greater Lowell 55-46 in the final to capture the state vocational championship.

“I think this meant everything to them,” head coach Nathalie Christiansen said. “Last year not really having a season and this year feeling like it was a rebuilding year because we lost nine seniors, they worked from the first day of practice to pull this together and really built something on the court over the past couple of months.”

The Beavers fell behind 12-5 within the first few minutes of what Christiansen described as a “really scrappy game.” Only three of BVT’s players had taken part in any meaningful high school tournament basketball before this year’s state vocational tourney.

“They had a lot of nerves seeing the trophy on the table, it was a big game,” Christiansen said. “I called a timeout and we started chipping away and making some nice stops. We got the lead back and we cruised from that point forward.”

Valley Tech was led by Emma Ballard in both tournament games. After pouring in 31 points in the semifinal, Ballard added 23 more in the title game.

“When she is feeling it like that and she is on fire, our team is unstoppable,” Christiansen said.

Junior Kasey Reeves and freshman Mara Keane stepped up on the defensive end, taking charges that helped turn the momentum of the championship game. The pair also dogged Greater Lowell’s scorers, forcing them in directions they did not want to go, their coach said.

With the state vocational crown in hand, the Beavers turn their attention to the state tournament. Valley Tech is the 19th seed in the statewide field, and is slated to travel to Case High School in Swansea on Friday night.

Christiansen said she is hoping the tournament experience will help her team overcome any nerves in the state playoff.

“I really enjoy having this voke playoff when it is, because it gets the kids who get nervous in these environments to feel their way through it and figure out how they are going to emotionally and mentally handle that challenge,” she said. “Now that they have this experience, we can say ‘it was just like Saturday.’ To get those initial jitters out of the way, I think it’s going to be helpful.”