Lee Boys Outlast McCann Tech in OT

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- Collin O’Brien scored 14 of his game-high 18 points after half-time Friday to lead the Lee boys basketball team to a 53-48, overtime win over McCann Tech.
The Wildcats fought back from an eight-point deficit in the first half, led by five late in the fourth quarter and got four points from Gabe Kelley in OT to earn their first win of the year.
The Hornets (0-2) battled gamely without two of their starters in the game and without the services of two more when they fouled out in the fourth quarter. But McCann Tech had no answer for O’Brien in the post.
He finished with 12 rebounds to go with his 18 points, and he went 3-for-4 at the foul line in the extra session to help put the game away.
“When we can get Collin the ball, good things seem to happen,” first-year Lee coach Eric Cardinal said. “He opens up the game for us. He opens up our shooters a lot better.
“But Collin’s a beast. … I don’t think there’s anyone who can really guard him. I’m not saying that out of bias, being his coach. I truly believe he’s special. He can take over a game. And we build off of his energy.”
O’Brien scored seven points in a 16-4 third quarter for Lee that allowed it to turn a four-point half-time deficit into an eight point lead.
But McCann Tech rallied with an 11-2 run to open the fourth quarter and take the lead when Darian Tovani set up Colby Marko for a bucket at the five-minute mark to make it 37-36.
The Hornets led by three before Lee scored eight straight points to go ahead, 44-39, when Kelley scored in transition with about two minutes left in the game.
McCann Tech freshman Marko then hit a 3-pointer, and it stayed a two-point game as the teams added empty possessions.
Finally, with about 20 seconds left on the clock, Sean Sumner hit from the elbow to tie the game at 44-44.
Lee could not get a good look at the basket at the other end, and a desperation shot by the Hornets after inbounding the ball with less than a second near midcourt rimmed out.
McCann Tech’s Nick LaForest (eight points) scored the first points of overtime, but Lee scored the next five.
First, O’Brien was fouled attempting to put back an offensive rebound and made his second to get the Wildcats within a point. Lee took the lead the next time down when Cole Redstone put back a rebound.
O’Brien was fouled in the post on Lee’s next possession, and he made both his free throws to give the team a three-point cushion.
Sumner scored a lay-up for McCann Tech to trim the margin to one, but Kelley answered with a 3-pointer with 1:08 remaining in OT to give the Wildcats a 52-48 lead.
He later added a free throw to provide the final margin, and Lee’s defense preserved the lead.
“It was a hard fought battle,” Cardinal said. “A lot of credit to McCann. They’re a good team, well coached.
“We always have that ‘next play’ mentality. I was proud of the way we fought back, even when we faced adversity. I was really happy with that.”
The Hornets also had a lot to be happy about in the loss.
McCann Tech went into the game without the services of Bruce Davis, Lucas Jamros and head coach Chris Bullett, who all were unavailable.
Then Darius Tovani (team-high 12 points) and Darian Tovani (nine points) fouled out less than a minute apart with 3:37 left in the fourth quarter.
“The thing is you have to balance -- we’ve got to play intense, that’s the type of style we have to play, but at the same time, this is what can happen with it,” acting coach Josh Meczywor said. “You know, if you get beat and make those reaches, you can get yourself in trouble pretty quick.”
When the second Tovani brother departed, it was a one-point McCann Tech lead with 3:37 in the fourth. After their departure -- so without four key contributors for the Hornets on the floor -- McCann Tech went down by five and still rallied to tie the game and force OT.
“Overall, I was really proud of how these guys played,” Meczywor said. “Going into this game, they had a built-in excuse. … They showed every bit that they deserved to win it. It just didn’t go the right way at the end.
“Ultimately, the report I’m going to [give Bullett] is, ‘Hey, look down the bench and grab whoever you want because anybody’s going to be able to come in and do what we need them to do.”
McCann Tech (0-2) is off until Friday when it goes to Gateway.
Lee (1-2) takes a holiday break before going to Mount Everett on Jan. 3.
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