By Stephen Dravis
08:05PM / Wednesday, March 06, 2013
Lenox came back to tie three times but couldn't past Sabis. See more photos here.
AMHERST, Mass. — When Sabis International Charter School's Shyanne Wellington scored in the post to put the top-seeded Bulldogs up, 23-10, midway through the second quarter on Wednesday night, the Lenox girls could have rolled over.
Instead, the Millionaires went on a roll that spanned the second and third quarters and turned a potential blowout into a nail-biter.
But Wellington scored 17 points, including the last two at the foul line, and the Bulldogs held Lenox scoreless over the final four minutes of the fourth quarter to earn a 45-41 win in the semi-finals of the Western Massachusetts Division 3 tournament.
Junior center Elizabeth Mitts scored a game-high 20 for fourth-seeded Lenox (14-9), which used its full-court press to take control of the game in the third quarter but forced just four turnovers in the final eight minutes.
"We just don't know how to give up," Lenox coach Nicole Patella said. "We won't give up. We're not going to back down.
"We played with our jitters in the first half and then settled down at half-time. But we just fell a little short again."
Mitts keyed Lenox's comeback with eight points in about three minutes during an 11-4 run late in the second quarter. She started the spurt by converting an assist from Katerine Prescott to make it 23-12 and closed it with four straight foul shots on back-to-back Lenox possessions to get the Millionaires within six, 27-21.
Foul-shooting was a major factor for Lenox all night long. The Millionaires made their first 14 free throws. But down the stretch, they missed two front ends of one-and-one opportunities, including one with 24 seconds left and Sabis ahead, 43-41.
"If that first one goes, it gives you a little more confidence," Patella said. "But we got to the line, which I was happy about. Whether we didn't have our legs or we just were ... We just didn't get it in.
"Foul shooting is something we tend to work on a lot in practice. But when you're in that kind of game situation ... it's hard to put yourself in that position."
Sabis scored the game's last four points to earn a date in Saturday's Division 3 final against the Lee Wildcats.
First, Jazmine Collins (10 points) hit a lay-in after a successful press break to make it 43-41 with 3 minutes, 56 seconds remaining.
Then, with just 19.6 seconds left, Wellington was fouled grabbing one of her game-high 11 rebounds and converted both shots to provide the final margin.
For Lenox, Elizabeth and Katherine Prescott, Jaclyn Gigliotti, Jen Delasco and Hayden Zinchuk played their final game in a Millionaires basketball uniform.
"I'm very proud of these girls," Patella said. "Mid-season, we kind of had a little low there, and they kept battling, kept coming into practice every day and working hard. I've had most of these girls for four years. It's hard that it's over, and I'm sure it's going to hurt for a while. But the one thing I said to them in the locker room was, 'You're going to take away a lot of good things, and I want you to remember one before you leave this locker room and put a smile on your face."