Team Effort Lifts Mounties Past Lee
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Anyone who has followed Berkshire County girls basketball even a little bit the last few years knows about Mount Greylock senior Lucy Barrett.
If you want to beat the Mounties, you better know more than that.
Yes, Barrett scored a game-high 27 points in Thursday's 57-44 win over Lee in the Mountie Dome. But Mount Greylock got key contributions from every other player on the eight-girl roster.
None was more crucial than sophomore center Jenna Benzinger, who grabbed 16 rebounds, passed out two assists and drew enough attention from the defense to open up the outside for Barrett and the Mounties' guards.
"That's what makes that team a good team," Lee coach Jenna Gangell said. "They have several players who can score. So you can't just focus on one player.
"Barrett is an excellent player. She's going to get her points, no question. We just didn't execute well on the defensive end."
Mount Greylock coach Paul Barrett said that the 6-foot-3 Benzinger's evolution at the offensive end helps the entire Mount Greylock team.
"I think No. 1, we're finding out, as Jenna is finding out herself, what here strengths are," he said. "I think having her moving a little bit rather than just planting her down in the low post helps. She has some decent foot speed. And she's much harder to defend if she's not a stationary object.
"She's going high post and dropping down, and we got some good looks that way, which nice. Certainly, if she can attract more than one person -- and Sarah Stripp was the beneficiary of that in the first half, she got some open looks. That's what it's going to give us.
"Then we have plays where we can run both Lucy and Jenna off of each other, so defenses have to make a decision which one they're going to take out."
The Mounties led most of the night on Thursday but were not able to get ahead by more than seven until the third quarter.
Stripp ignited a 7-0 run that featured a steal and a 3-pointer by Barrett to make it 41-29 midway through the quarter.
Then the Mounties closed the quarter with another 7-0 spurt to go ahead by 16 going to the fourth. First, Benzinger scored in the post. Then she grabbed a defensive rebound that led to Arianna Walden's 3-pointer. Finally, freshman Caroline Flynn drove the left wing for a bucket to make it 48-32.
Alyssa Kelly hit a couple of 3s in the fourth to get the lead down to 53-40 with 3 minutes, 35 seconds on the clock, but Barrett went 4-for-4 at the line down the stretch to keep the game out of reach.
Lee (3-9), which came into the game on a three-game winning streak, kept it a game in the first half with its 3-point shooting. Karli Retzel had three of Lee's six first-half triples. The 'Cats connected from behind the arc four times in the second quarter, including a Mikayla DeSantis 3 with 3:04 on the clock to tie it, 20-20.
Moments later, DeSantis was fouled in the act of shooting a 3 and converted all three at the stripe to give Lee its only lead, 23-22.
A conventional 3-point play by Stripp started an 8-0 run for Mount Greylock that re-established its lead.
The Mounties kept that lead in the second half by outrebounding Lee, 26-17, and holding the 'Cats to just two second-half 3s.
"They did a great job screening, No. 1," Paul Barrett said. "The challenge was you can't just go into them, you've got to fight to get over the top. And when they're way out, you should be shooting the gap underneath. That's something we did a much better job of in the second half."
And after getting outrebounded 20-16 in the first half, Mount Greylock got nine second-half rebounds from Benzinger and seven (to go with a block and a couple of steals) from Walden.
"[Rebounding] has been our nemesis, for sure," Barrett said. "Knowing that [Lee] scraps after the ball and attacks the basket, the fact that we held them to one shot per possession is definitely something that we've been working on. And it's nice to see the fruits of our labor."
On the other hand, Lee's Gangell was disappointed that her team was not able to show some of the things it has been working on in practice.
"We just didn't execute our game-plan as well as we have been," she said. "We came out flat. Mount Greylock clearly wanted it more than we did in the second half. They outhustled us, they outplayed us, they ran faster down the floor. ... They had the size advantage on us, but that's no excuse for not boxing out under the basket. So we need to execute much better."
Lee hosts St. Joe on Tuesday. Mount Greylock (5-6) plays Hampshire on Saturday at the Coaches vs. Canceer showcase at Hoosac Valley.