LENOX, Mass. — More efficient offense and more energy on the boards allowed the Monument Mountain boys basketball team to come back and defeat Lee, 55-44, on Wednesday in the championship game of the South County Tournament.
Joe Aberdale scored 15 second-half points and grabbed seven second-half rebounds as the Spartans outscored the Wildcats 34-13 over the last nine minutes of play.
“Lee was playing a pretty good matchup zone defense, and we were not penetrating at all, to create any kind of on-ball defense,” Monument coach Mike Saporito said. “Once we got them to play on-ball defense and were able to move the ball, I think we did a better job of getting better looks.
“Part of that started with [Jordan] Piepho catching the ball in the high post and being a presence. We talked about that at half-time, whoever is in the high post — and I think [Zach] Tinker did a good job too catching in high post — at least has to be somewhat of a threat. If no one is playing the ball, and you’re in a zone, then five guys can play the other four guys who are trying to set up for their shots.”
Piepho scored four of his six points after half-time, and Kevin Troiano scored six of his eight and passed out two assists after the break.
The other big difference for Monument in the second half was rebounding. Lee had a 27-9 edge in that department in the first half and took a 23-14 lead into the locker room.
The Spartans outrebounded the Wildcats by a margin of 29-19 after half-time.
“There was no effort or energy on the glass in the first half,” Saporito said. “You can see what changed our momentum in the third quarter was we were getting after loose balls. … I thought we did a good job of keeping balls alive on the offensive glass. I think that wore them down.
“We’re both on back-to-back games. I thought Lee played very well the whole weekend. They may have got a little tired down the stretch given the fact that they don’t have as deep a bench.”
Lee coach Tom Finnegan shared that assessment.
“I told the guys at half-time they were going to have to weather the storm because they were going to come out and make adjustments,” Finnegan said. “And I thought we did until the end of the third quarter. Then, we just didn’t have the horses at the end.
“We were seven deep, and I should have done a better job of subbing. That’s something I have to look at. We play Monument two more times, so don’t think I’m not aware of that.”
The storm hit full force at the end of the third, when Daniel Newey put back an offensive rebound to make it 31-23. The next time down the floor, Tinker converted a Conor Prince assist and drew a foul; he completed the conventional three-point play to make it a five-point game going into the fourth quarter.
The Spartans scored nine of the first 11 points of the fourth to take a 35-33 lead on a pair of Aberdale foul shots with 4 minutes, 39 seconds on the clock.
Matt Reynolds (game-high 19 points) drove the left wing to give the Wildcats their last lead, 37-35. But moments later, Aberdale hit a triple to ignite an 8-0 spurt that gave Monument a 48-40 lead with 1:47 on the clock.
The Wildcats were forced to start fouling late, and the Spartans hit four of six from the line in the last 1:17.
Lee (2-2) travels to Drury on Monday, while Monument (3-2) travels to Mount Everett.