Recap for the game: Mount Greylock vs Lee on Mar 06
Greylock Comes up Just Short Against Lee
By Ryan Holmes
11:26PM / Tuesday, March 06, 2012
AMHERST, Mass — The Mount Greylock boys' basketball team is going to think it came up short against Lee on Tuesday night. The truth is that Jake LePrevost just came up big for the Wildcats.
The senior forward quite simply won the game for his team, scoring the last 11 points for Lee to lead the No. 3 Wildcats to a 44-42 win over the No. 7 Mounties in the semifinals of the Division 3 Western Mass. tournament. LePrevost's run at the end was even more impressive considering the poor second half Lee had stumbled through up until that point. The Wildcats led by nine at halftime but had seven turnovers and scored just five points in third quarter. Things weren't looking good for Lee when senior guard Matt Scapin, the Wildcats' leading scorer this year, fouled out of the game with 3:12 left on the clock.
While the rest of the Lee squad looked lost with Scapin on the bench, LePrevost saw a golden opportunity to take over the game. With Greylock breathing down the Wildcats' neck, LePrevost helped his team retake the lead on three different occasions throughout the fourth quarter. With the game tied at 42 all, LePrevost finally sank the Mounties for good, taking a pass from guard Jeff Braim on the left baseline, working his way around a screen and scoring a right-handed lay-up to put Lee up by two points with 18 seconds left to play.
"Jake really took a big step forward for himself as a player tonight," Wildcats head coach Dan Korte said. "He's always had Matt there to be that other guard on the floor, but tonight he had to step up. When the game was on the line and we needed him the most, Jake LePrevost made some humongous plays that we're really the reason we won this game tonight."
No play was bigger than the lay-up at the end. The bucket started with Braim, who was back after missing the past couple of games with an injury. Korte said he expected some rust from Braim, who struggled for a large part of the third quarter when Lee (18-5) started turning the ball over. With Scapin out of the game, however, Braim was the go-to guy to lead the Wildcats' offense. He didn't hesitate driving the ball to the left baseline, where he then turned and handed the ball off to LePrevost. Braim smartly turned his back and got in the way of Greylock sophomore Tyrell Thomas (18 points, five rebounds), who was in charge of guarding LePrevost. Thomas was tripped up on the play, and LePrevost blew by him and Mounties' guard Hank Barrett on his way to scoring the game-wining basket.
"After Jeffrey handed me the ball, I'll give him some credit because he got me open a little bit," LePrevost said. "Once I got the ball near the 3-point line, I saw the opening and I just took it. I'm a pretty tall guy, and I can jump pretty high, so I just took the ball to the rack and laid it off of the glass."
"I was a little panicked at first," LePrevost admitted when he saw Scapin foul out of the game. "But I knew somebody was going to have to step up, and I knew I had the potential to do it. Usually Matt is just our go-to guy. Almost every time he comes through, so I can just chip in and stuff. With him being out the way he was, I knew I had to step up, and that's what I did."
Even with LePrevost's late-game heroics, Greylock (17-6) still had one more chance to tie the game. Barrett was fouled in the left corner with 2.5 seconds left in the game, and the Mounties were more than happy to send their best free-throw shooter to the line to try and send the game into overtime. Barrett, who had made six straight free throws going into his final attempts, came up just a little short, though, and watched in agony as the ball hit the front of the rim and rolled off to the right. He tried to miss his second shot to give his teammates a shot at a tip-in, but Greylock was called for a lane violation.
It was tough and weird way for the season to end for a Mounties team that had come so far from last year's 4-16 campaign.
"I'm proud of my kids," Greylock head coach Bob Thistle said. "Were down 13 [points], and we never quit. It's really representative of this group of kids. We're disappointed to lose, but we tip our cap to Lee. They played a great game, but I am very proud of our kids for not quitting."
It was tough break for Barrett, who had an outstanding junior year this season and who was major reason why the Mounties were able to rally from a 13-point deficit early in the second half. Barrett scored nine of his 14 points in the fourth quarter alone and made three of his four steals after halftime to help Greylock take the lead with just under five minutes left in the game. He also got some help from Thomas, who scored nine points during a 12-5 run in the third quarter that pulled the Mounties within two points heading into the fourth.
More importantly than his offense, though, was the two fouls Thomas drew on Scapin in the third quarter. Scapin drew his fourth foul with 19 seconds left in the third quarter and didn't return until there was 4:48 left in the final frame. He didn't last long, though, picking up his fifth foul just a minute and 36 seconds after he re-entered the game. The Lee fans were irate when he had to leave the game, but Scapin simply put himself into too many compromising positions throughout the game.
"It is what it is," Korte said of the fouls called against Scapin. "The officials are what they are. You have to respond to it and adapt to it. Every game, every official [is different]. We're all human and the way the games are called are going to be different sometimes. And Matt had a tough guard tonight. The Thomas kid goes to the hole well. Matt's a fantastic defender, but when you're guarding someone who goes to the hoop like that you're bound to end up in positions where you get called for fouls.
"It was a situation we haven't been in all year, so it was an adjustment and it was some adversity, but we did a nice job responding to it and we did what we needed to do to win."
The game ended up being called very tightly in the fourth quarter, with both teams combining to shoot 18 free throws. Barrett sank two foul shots with 4:45 to play to give Greylock it's first lead of the game since the opening minute. The Mounties' 34-33 lead didn't last long, however, as LePrevost quickly responded with a 3-pointer from the right side of the key. It was a shot that seemed to give the Wildcats' senior all the confidence he needed to help his team close out the game and earn a date with top-seeded Saint Joseph's in Saturday's Division 3 championship.
"I knew I was just going to have to play the game the way I know how," LePrevost said. "When it comes to games down the stretch like that, you don't have to do anything different than you normally do. I think that what's usually messes people up down the stretch. They think they have to do different things than they normally do, but I was just playing my game."
With two and half minutes to play, Thomas tied the game up by grabbing a steal and finishing off a lay in on the other end. The momentum looked like it was going the Mounties' way, but Thomas was whistled for a technical foul for taunting after scoring the basket. LePrevost sank both free throws and later pushed his team's lead to four points with a jumper from the right elbow. He then came through with a key steal that seemed to clinch it for Lee, but Barrett and Greylock just kept on coming. He took a pass in transition from Thomas and was fouled while scoring a lay-up. Barrett made the foul shot to cut the lead to 42-41, and senior forward Tom Dils later tied with 1:02 left by making 1 of 2 shots from the line.
The game got pretty chaotic in the final minute, but LePrevost finally calmed things down by making the lay-up his team needed with 18 seconds to go.
"I think the kids got to the spot," Thistle said. "They were talking as best they could in this type of environment, but you know the kid made a big-time shot in a big spot, and that put them ahead."
If the Mounties can blame the loss on anything, they need to look back on a tough first half in which Scapin burned them for 14 points on their way to a 27-18 halftime deficit. Greylock also had some key misses at charity stripe throughout the game, going 14 of 24 for the game.
"I think defensively we were OK [in the first half], but I think we were pressing a little bit on ourselves offensively," Thistle said. "We got away from what brought us here, which is working the ball in and out. A lot of times we got it in, but it didn't come back out, and that's a big key to our game.
"It's hard to lose in a game like this, but we're real proud to get to the final four. We had our opportunities but, again, I couldn't be prouder of this team to go from 4-16 to get this moment. We'll hopefully learn from it and come back next year."