Puleri's Buzzer-Beater Lifts Lee Girls
CHESHIRE, Mass. -- Emma Puleri scored from the foul line as time expired Saturday to give the Lee High girls basketball team a 45-43, come-from-behind win over Mahar at the Coaches vs. Cancer showcase at Hoosac Valley High School.
The Wildcats, who trailed by seven going into the fourth quarter, got the ball with 7.7 seconds left on the clock after Lydia Simone forced a Mahar turnover on a baseline inbounds play under the Senators basket.
Lee then got it inbounds and over half-court for Puleri, who drove into the paint and hit the game-winner, giving her a game-high 21 points and giving the Wildcats (5-7) a needed win.
“It’s a press breaker that we usually run,” Lee coach Rick Puleri said. “We got the ball going down the court in that direction, and she just crossed the girl and got by her.
“At that point, it’s just, ‘Get it up on the rim and make a play.’ Luckily for her and for us, she made the play.”
Mahar led most of the first half, using their size edge to its full advantage, dominating the glass behind Tori Tenney, who had eight rebounds at half-time. She added seven more after the break, but Lee got big contributions on the boards from Puleri (six in the second half, eight in the game) and Carina Brown (six in the second half, nine in the game) to turn the tide.
“That was the first thing I wrote on the board at half-time,” Rick Puleri said. “We know we’re small. We’ve been working hard in practice for a while now on boxing out. And they did a much better job in the second half of fighting and competing on the boards, and certainly it showed.”
It was a 22-18 margin at half-time, and Mahar eventually extended that lead with a 3-pointer from Tenney (12 points) on the last possession of the third quarter to make it 38-31.
But Lee opened the fourth on an 8-0 run to take the lead.
Puleri got things started with a 3-pointer after a Maya Velasco offensive rebound.
In fact, the first five points of the run came on second-chance opportunities. A Puleri make from the foul line and a Lydia Simone free throw got the Wildcats within a point of the Senators at 38-37. Simone scored in the post with 5:20 left to give Lee a 39-38 lead.
The teams then traded points with Mahar tying the game a last time on a foul shot by Delaney Parker with 1:13 on the clock to make it 43-43.
Both sides had chances to retake the lead before Mahar’s final turnover on the inbounds with 7.7 left.
Lee takes a two-game winning streak into Monday’s home game against Drury.