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Drury Girls Rally for Comeback Win at Lenox in State Tourney

By Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires Sports - Print

10:01PM / Tuesday, March 05, 2024


LENOX, Mass. – Ninth-grader Ashlyn Hayden scored in the post with 15 seconds left to break a tie, and the Drury girls basketball team Tuesday overcame a 15-point half-time deficit to earn a 32-30 win over Lenox in the Division 5 State Tournament Round of 16.
 
After scoring just seven points in the first half, the Blue Devils turned the tables on Lenox, holding the third-seeded Millionaires to eight second-half points.
 
Drury (10-12) won its third straight game and earned a date in the quarter-finals at No. 6 Palmer (14-8), a 57-27 winner over Ware on Tuesday night.
 
Hayden finished with a team-high nine points and six rebounds. Jacinta Felix scored eight, and Brooke Bishop added five points, including a key fourth-quarter 3-pointer.
 
In its 10 wins this year, Drury has held opponents to 37 points or fewer. And after going into the locker room down, 22-7, it was clear that the Blue Devils had work to do on both ends of the floor.
 
But they were not about to panic.
 
“To be honest with you, I walked in the locker room and said, ‘This game’s not over,’ “ Drury coach Ian Downey said. “I really wasn’t upset with how we played. I thought our turnovers were our own fault, not anything they were doing crazy. So I knew that if we could limit our turnovers and start getting shots off, shots would fall.
 
“We missed open 3s in the first half. We missed lay-ups in the first half. And we didn’t get to the line one time in the first half. I really felt like … we missed so many shots we might normally make in the first half that we’re going to make some in the second half, we were going to be OK.”
 
Drury dominated at the defensive end in the second half, not allowing a point by the Millionaires until midway through the fourth quarter.
 
“We just kind of really nailed in our help defense and stepping in instead of reaching in,” Felix said. “I think that helped a lot.”
 
Lenox had the upper hand at both ends of the court in the first half.
 
After Hayden’s 3-pointer in the opening minutes gave Drury an early 3-2 lead, Lenox scored the next 17 points.
 
Jocelyn Fairfield scored seven of those points and set up a Claire O’Brien triple during the run, which ended with Fairfield hitting a free throw to give Lenox a 19-3 lead.
 
The Blue Devils got back on the board with four straight points, but Chloe Parsenios ended the half with a 3-pointer on her way to a nine-point night that gave the Millionaires a 22-7 lead in the locker room.
 
Lenox and its fans were riding high, but that turned out to be the Millionaires’ high-water mark.
 
“I wasn’t really worried about our offense [in the second half] as much as we didn’t come out and play defense,” Lenox assistant coach Bailey Patella said. “No effort on defense, let them back in the game, and then our offense was flat.
 
“When you’re up, you should be fired up and ready to play, and we weren’t. We were flat, and our defense creates our offense. That clearly was not the case. You can’t go a scoreless quarter in a state tournament game.”
 
Meanwhile, Drury, which committed 14 first-half turnovers, did as Downey asked and protected the ball in the second half, committing just five in the last two quarters.
 
It took a little less than five minutes to get the deficit down to a manageable level. Hayden’s second triple of the game got the Blue Devils within five, 22-17, with 3 minutes, 20 seconds left in the third quarter.
 
Neither team could get a shot from the field to fall for the rest of the period, but Felix sank a pair of free throws with 1:29 on the clock to make it a one-possession game going to the fourth.
 
In the third minute of the fourth quarter, Felix’s rebound on the defensive end led to her setting Bishop for a bucket to make it 22-21, Lenox.
 
And moments later, Ashlyn’s twin sister Delaney Hayden dropped in a basket from the left wing to give Drury its first lead since the opening minutes, 23-22.
 
Lenox called timeout and finally got its offense going when Kelsey Krichner scored in the post to retake the lead. And Fairfield scored from behind the arc to put the Millionaires up, 27-23, with 3:20 left to play.
 
But Drury had an answer.
 
Bishop hit a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock, and the Blue Devils forced a turnover that led to a make at the foul line for Felix to tie the game, tying the game, 27-27.
 
After a steal by Felix at one end, Bishop fed her at the other for a triple to put Drury up, 30-27, with fewer than two minutes to play.
 
The teams then traded turnovers on four straight possessions, including a shot clock violation on the Blue Devils, to get the clock under a minute.
 
With 47 seconds left, Parsenios forced a turnover on an inbounds pass that led to her 3-pointer from the corner to tie the game, 30-30.
 
Drury got the ball to Ashlyn Hayden in the paint, and she scored the game-winner with about 15 seconds left.
 
“Freshmen, both of them, they stepped up huge this year for us,” Felix said of the Hayden sisters, who, combined, average 10 points per game for Drury.
 
Lenox got a drive to the basket from high on the right wing and got fouled with .1 seconds left on the clock. But neither free throw was on target, and the Blue Devils began their celebration.
 
The Millionaires, meanwhile, can begin looking ahead after a 19-4 campaign that saw them reach the Western Mass Class C Championship Game.
 
“We had a great season,” Patella said. “I’m really proud of the girls. They fought all season. They played hard all year. Things didn’t go our way in the Western Mass finals and didn’t go our way tonight. But that doesn’t put a label on our season as a whole.
 
“And the good thing is we have everyone coming back. So they better work in the off-season and be hungry coming back.”
 
Drury will be hungry for their shot to reach the D5 Final Four, and it will come against the Panthers, who the Blue Devils last met in the 2023 Western Mass semi-finals, a 34-23 Drury win.
 
“To me, Palmer is very similar to the game we played Pioneer Valley [on Jan. 17], the Theriault girl is probably one of the best girls in Western Mass,” Downey said, referring to Palmer sophomore Charlotte Theriault. “So we’re going to have our hands full with her.
 
“But this team, last year, went down there in Western Mass and won. Some of these girls were on that sideline and played in that game. It’s not like we don’t know what it takes to go down there. … If we play the defense down there that we played tonight, we give ourselves a shot.
 
“That’s all I can ask for: Play defense and give us a shot.”

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