Lee Girls Fall to Archbishop in State Final
WMass champions Lee Wildcats were overshadowed by Archbishop in the State Final.
WORCESTER, Mass. — You can't teach height — and that was the only thing that hurt the Lee girls' basketball team on Saturday morning, as it fell 60-33 to the Archbishop Williams Bishops in the Massachusetts Division 3 State Final at the DCU Center.
The Bishops' starting five included girls with heights of 6 foot, 6-foot-1, and 6-foot-3, while Lee's starters averaged just 5-foot-6, and the height made all the difference in the game.
Archbishop controlled the boards on both ends of the floor, holding the Wildcats to just one shot a possession while giving themselves multiple second-chance opportunities.
"The height is really tough," said Lee head coach Gary Wellington. "You look at my lineup and we can box out and do everything right but the Good Lord wasn't on our side."
Despite the height advantage, the Lee girls played hard and physical.
"We'll never back down," said Wellington. "I've always said that we would play the Boston Celtics if they walk in the door. That's just the way we think and that's the way our program thinks. Little did I know I would run into Bird, McHale, and Parrish today."
The Bishops got off to a quick start with a 9-0 run just thee and a half minutes into the game and never gave up the lead. Their size inside was too much as they got second-chance shot after second-chance shot inside. Their dominance on the boards also led to some wide-open 3-point shots for Archbishop because Lee needed as many players inside to rebound as possible.
Down 9-0, freshman Courtney Picard got Lee on the board first with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc and went on to score a team-high seven points in the first half. Lee trailed 29-15 at half.
The second half was much of the same for Lee, as the Bishops outscored them 19-11 in the third quarter to push their lead to a comfortable 22 points.
Lee's star forward Stephanie Young struggled to find her game throughout the contest and finished with just three points after scoring 30 in her two previous games, the Western Mass. final and state semifinal. The strong points of her game, driving and transition, were shut down by Archbishop's height. She also usually excels with her mid-range and outside shooting but was unable to find her shooting touch.
Senior guard Eileen Dooley was the one consistent threat for the Wildcats as she paced Lee, scoring 16 of its 33 points. Asked after the game about how it felt to be out on the floor with such a height disadvantage, Dooley said, "It was definitely intimidating because we've been short our whole lives so like seeing them it was kind of like wow.
"But basically we couldn't drive as well as we could, so we wanted to draw fouls and try and be fast. We weren't hitting our outside shots either, so we were trying to come back but we really weren't hitting anything."
After the game the Wildcats huddled together for one last group meeting.
"We got really close this year, especially, and we have a great group of seniors," Dooley said. "We just thanked everyone because we had given each other a lot. It's one thing to be friends off the court but on the court, we meshed so well together."
This Lee senior class includes Young, Dooley, Hadley Cook, Sara Middleton, Megan Gaul and Moriah McKenna, all in their third state title appearance. They won their freshman year, came up short in their sophomore year, missed out junior year and fell this year to a very tough Archbishop squad.
"We definitely have no regrets," said Dooley. "Basketball is what has kept me and my friends really close and my whole family is about basketball. I have no regrets. Basketball has been my whole life and for it to end ... it just really, really sucks."