LENOX, Mass. -- Sixty years ago Lenox boys basketball player Bailey Patella's grandfather was the first player in Berkshire County to score 1,000 points. Since Bailey was a young boy his grandfather shaped him into the remarkable player he is today.
Monday evening, as the No. 5 Lenox basketball team was kicking off its first game of the Western Massachusetts tournament against No. 12 Holyoke Catholic, Patella was 26 points away from the 1,000-point career mark; making this first round win a lot more special as he left the court with a game high of 30 points.
"It's something that as he got closer, we were trying to figure out when it may happen and I thought it would be a nicer thing to have it happen at home with our fans and his whole family," Lenox coach Scott Sibley said. "Our goal was to kind of keep him out there as long as we could and make it happen, so we didn't have another added distraction for Thursday and so we could refocus tomorrow and get back into our team mindset."
And Patella and the rest of his team made it happen in the third quarter after he drove to the hoop and was fouled.
"I was so nervous at the line," Patella said. "I had butterflies in my stomach, but I needed to make one and I had two shots and I got it."
After Patella sank his first shot the game was stopped and he was presented with a banner, balloons, and the game ball. His family congratulated him on the court, but Patella made it a point to point up in the stands, where his grandfather was sitting. After pictures were taken, Patella ran up in the crowd and handed him the game ball.
"Ever since I was young he's taught me everything I know," Patella said. "It was very special that he was here and able to watch me and he got the game ball because he means the world to me."
Patella went back to the line after celebrations and made his second shot, putting him at 27 points and taking a lot off his shoulders and the team. They outscored Holyoke Catholic 19-11, and a lot of those points came in fast pace transition.
Evan Lanoue, who finished with 19 points, and Patella really got it going in the final minutes after Patella hit his mark. Point 29 came off an alley-oop from Lanoue that he slammed in the basket, lifting the fans off their feet and putting a smile on their teammates' faces.
"We're a faster paced team when Evan's out there," Sibley said. "Ben [Herrick] will run more designed offenses, where when Evan's out there we look to try to fast break more and look for the open guy on the wings for some easy baskets."
Lanoue's speed and ball handling skills helped the Millionaires pull away from Holyoke Catholic after being down only 10 points at half (42-32).
Holyoke was beating Lenox inside in the first half; Patella refrained from his usual blocks that happen in the lane on their defensive end. The visitors trailed after the first quarter, 22-18, and in the second they had the deficit within one point (28-27) with four minutes to go.
"I don't know if Bailey was hesitant early on and didn't want to get into foul trouble when he knew he was 26 away," Sibley said. "The first half I think they had an awful lot of easy baseline drives and floaters in the lane."
"In the second half we cut that down quite a bit and once he got the 1,000 points it took the weight off all of our shoulders and we got more focused."
Lenox now advances to the second round and they will travel to No.4 Quaboag Thursday.
"It's not the team I would have chosen for the second round, I would have liked to have seen them a little later on," Sibley said. "Records stick you where they do for a reason, so we'll go down there and play as hard as we can; they're a very good team."