Mount Everett Girls Hang on, Hand Lee First Loss
SHEFFIELD, Mass. -- Anyone who follows Berkshire County girls basketball knows that Gwen Carpenter is option 1, 2 and 3 for the Mount Everett girls basketball team.
But don't sleep on the Eagles' bench.
Depth was key on Friday night as Mount Everett edged Lee, 64-63, in the championship game of the South County Tournament.
The Eagles saw three players foul out of the game in the final six minutes, but they had just enough to hold off a furious comeback attempt by the Wildcats and improve to 6-1 this season.
"We're only about seven deep, eight deep anyway, and to have two starters and our first girl off the bench -- and all of our bigs -- foul out, was huge," Mount Everett coach Scott Rote said. "Sarah Beckwith coming in and hitting that little chippy at the end was big."
Beckwith was on the receiving end of a Carpenter assist with less than a minute to go to give the Eagles the lead for good, 62-61, after Lee used a 13-3 run to take the lead on a pair of Karli Retzel free throws.
The next time the Eagles got the ball, Carpenter (29 points, five assists) ended up at the line for a one-and-one, and she hit both to give Mount Everett a 64-61 lead.
Taylor Fera scored two at the line for Lee (5-1) with 16 seconds left to make it 64-63.
Carpenter drew another foul with 9.9 on the clock and a one-point lead, but a rare miss on the front end opened the door a crack for Lee. Brianna Hawley (13 points) grabbed her 13th rebound of the game to give the Wildcats a shot, but their shot rimmed out, and Carpenter grabbed the rebound and dribbled out the clock.
Although the super sophomore is known far and wide for her scoring prowess, it was her ability to find an open teammate that gave Mount Everett the lead for good in the final minute.
"It's basketball IQ on [Carpenter's] part," Rote said. "We have Sarah, who is a first-year varsity player who gets little minutes here and there and gets thrown into a situation tonight. She has not played in a high-intensity game yet.
"For Sarah to have the poise to get open on the block, and Sarah plays really well in the low post. But for Sarah to have the poise to get the ball and make the shot was huge. It shows a lot about Gwen having the trust in her teammates, and she does. She believes in her teammates."
Carpenter showed in the second quarter why her teammates can believe in her when she knocked down eighth of nine of nine tries at the foul line to help give Mount Everett a big lead.
The Eagles outscored Lee by a margin of 22-12 in the second quarter to take a 35-24 lead into the locker room. Carpenter scored 13 points in that quarter, which also saw Kelsey Netzer (14 points) knock down one of her four 3-pointers.
It was still a sizeable margin, 50-41, going to the fourth quarter, and it was 57-48 midway through the fourth when Madeline VonRuden set up Kayla Krom for a bucket.
But Lee held Mount Everett scoreless on eight straight possessions while the Wildcats chipped away at the lead.
"We play pretty solid man," Lee coach Rick Puleri said. "We keep it pretty simple, but we have speed at the guard, and we did a nice job on Carpenter [in the fourth quarter] keeping her off the line and making her make a few field goals instead of getting all her points at the line.
"But we did a good job defensively. We rebounded really well. In the first half, the problem was in transition. They killed us in transition. In the second half, we slowed them down a little bit and made a run."
Kendra Williams led Lee with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Mikayla DeSantis grabbed 11 rebounds. Shannon Finnegan had four second-half steals to go along with five points and four rebounds.
Lee will look to bounce back on Wednesday at Palmer. Mount Everett on Thursday will look for its fourth straight win when it visits Housatonic Valley.