Drury Girls Close on 20-0 Run to Top Lenox
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- The year in high school sports has been all about making lemonade out of lemons.
On Wednesday night, the Drury girls basketball team made the most out of a bad situation.
Midway through the third quarter, the Lenox Millionaires, who trailed by as many as eight points in the first half, completed a 4-0 run with a pair of free throws off a technical foul to tie the Blue Devils, 22-22.
They were the last points Drury allowed in a 42-22 win.
"I turned to my assistant coach after the Alyssa [Russell] technical and said, 'This is going to be a game changer,' " Drury coach Ian Downey said. "And it was a game changer for us. The girls rallied around her, and that might have been the hardest they played all year.
"Whether the technical was warranted or not, I think they rallied around her. Hannah [LaCasse] had gotten one earlier, and they didn't think it was warranted, so they rallied.
"And they went on a 20-0 run, which may have been the first 20-0 run of my coaching career."
Sophomore Maddison Houghtaling scored 11 points during that run to finish as the game's high scorer.
Drury took the lead for good when Ellie Harnick was fouled in the post and hit both her free throws to make it 24-22 with 3:40 left.
On Lenox's ensuing possession, Houghtaling made a steal and went the other way other way for a transition basket. She then knocked down the first of her two 3-pointers on Drury's next possession to push the lead back to 29-22.
It was a nine-point lead at half-time, and Drury took its first double-digit advantage on its first possession of the fourth quarter when freshman Faith Moran drive the lane to make it 33-22.
Moran finished with just four points but also a team-high 13 rebounds as the front line of Moran, Harnick and Mackenzie Dobbert dominated the glass.
Especially in the first half, when Drury never trailed after Alyssa Russell's 3-pointer made it 3-2, Drury's interior game was the difference.
"Every coach wants paint touches, and that's all we talk about," Downey said. "The problem this year is we don't get practices. So you're trying constantly in games trying to explain it. There are times when you'll see me, when something good happens, turn to the bench and say, 'See what happens when you get a paint touch? Everything just opens up. ... It was almost like it clicked today.
"But I thought our bigs were very aggressive on the rebounding end, too. I thought they were getting in there and getting rebounds."
The Millionaires' Mia Giardina and Sophie Patella each scored six points while pulling down eight and seven rebounds, respectively.
Downey acknowledged that Wednesday's score reflects, in part, the fact that Lenox (0-2) is just a few games into its season.
On the other hand, the Blue Devils (2-7) know that feeling, having started their season at the beginning of March, playing teams who had been playing games for a month.
"It's been a weird year," Downey said. "I'm just happy. Barring anything happening, we're going play a 10th game. So that's half a season when we didn't think we were going to get anything in. We all just feel fortunate.
"As a coach, I'm a competitor, so at times I've gotten frustrated because we're not playing as well as I think we can. But then I have to remember that we just started three weeks ago, and that was after a year off of doing nothing."
The silver lining, for Drury, is that most of this year's team will enter the 2021-22 season better for the experience this month.
"We're extremely young," Downey said. "We're only losing two seniors. This year, for me as a coach, has been great because I've been able to get young girls in with no consequences. 'Go make a mistake. I don't care. You're not going to cost me a Western Mass tournament or a chance at South Division title.'
"Go make mistakes. Learn this year that you can or can't make that pass. Learn this year that you can get that shot off or not get that shot off. So, for me, as much as I would have liked a full season with regular tryouts and preseason and the whole 9 yards, for me as a young team, it's going to hopefully help us in the future."