Drury Girls Hold On to Beat Lee
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- Five games into the season, the Drury High School girls basketball team is still a work in progress.
But it definitely is progressing.
The Blue Devils won their third game in a row on Saturday night, beating Lee, 43-42, to improve to 3-2 on the season.
The difference was Drury's pressure defense, which yielded about 15 turnovers -- seven in a third quarter that saw the Devils lead by as many as 10 before Lee (0-4) battled back.
"At times, our press worked well," Drury coach Jay Meehan said. "We certainly have a lot of work to do with it. We basically just put it in the other day.
"With a little time, we've got to fine-tune some things."
The Blue Devils get some time to hone their skills in the gym before returning to action on Jan. 8 with an independent game at Granby.
On Saturday night, the Wildcats probably felt like time ran out after they went on a 9-0 run in the last four minutes to tie the game, 42-42, when Alyssa Kelly hit a free throw with 23 seconds on the clock.
But Drury got the ball over half court against Lee's press, and Katlyn Toomey went to the line for a two-shot foul with 7.4 seconds left.
She missed the front end but knocked down the second for Drury's first point in nearly four minutes.
"Katie's a good shooter," Meehan said. "She works hard at it. She's been in a bit of a slump shooting the ball, so it was nice to see her get to the free throw line a couple of times.
"We want her in that situation, at the line. We want Liv (Carlson), Molly (Moulton). Those girls work hard at that stuff, so we want them shooting those.
"I was pretty confident she was going to make one."
After a Lee timeout, Drury's press came up big one more time, forcing a loose ball at midcourt. Kelly was able to recover the ball, but she was forced to rush a long 3-pointer to beat the buzzer. Her shot rimmed out as the buzzer sounded, and Drury walked off with the "W."
Lee coach Jenna Gangell said that her team's style of play -- as much as Drury's pressure -- led to some of the Wildcats' trouble holding onto the ball.
"We play really hard, so unfortunately a result of that is increased turnovers," Gangell said. "We just have to learn to make smarter passing choices.
"But overall, I'm really pleased. We're going to go into tomorrow's practice with some things to work on, but we're going to keep it positive."
Positives like the 3-pointers by Kelly and Retzel that got Lee back into the game in a hurry midway through the fourth quarter. Those triples turned a 42-33 game into a one-possession game.
And after Retzel (16 points) was fouled driving to the basket with 1:15 left and knocked down both shots to get Lee within a point, the 'Cats had the ball four times with a chance to take the lead; finally Kelly (15 points) converted a free throw to tie it.
Besides the press, the other key for Drury on Saturday night was rebounding. Olivia Carlson grabbed a game-high 12 boards to lead the Devils to a 45-37 edge in that department.
Drury was even more dominant on the glass than that margin indicates before Lee came alive and got some big rebounds from Nikki Laudon (11 points, nine rebounds) down the stretch.
Drury's offense was led by Molly Moulton with 14 points. After that, it was a balanced attack with Jenna Moulton scoring seven, Toomey six and Destiny Crews and Carlson with five apiece.
While the Blue Devils are looking forward to some practice time over the next week, Lee will be back on the road on Monday night at Sabis and on Friday at Pittsfield.
Friday's game will wrap up a stretch that sees Lee face the defending Division 3 Western Massachusetts champion Hoosac Valley, the team Hoosac beat in the sectional finals (Sabis) and Division 2 semi-finalist Pittsfield in the Wildcats' first six games.
"We have a very tough first part of our schedule, but we're looking at that as it's going to prepare us for the [Berkshire County] South," Gangell said.