Carlson, Drury Girls Win Gene Wein Tourney
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- The Drury High girls basketball team wants to emphasize defense this winter.
On Thursday, the Blue Devils were definitely emphatic.
Drury held Mount Greylock to no points in the second quarter en route to a 42-29 win in the championship game of the Gene Wein Holiday Tournament.
Olivia Carlson grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds, blocked three shots, had a couple of steals and scored seven points to lead Drury to its second straight win and a 2-1 record.
"We're going to play team defense, and that's going to come off our communication," Carlson said. "If we communicate, good things are going to come from that. We're a quick team, but we've got to communicate because good things are going to happen."
The best thing that happened for Drury on Thursday night? Limiting Mount Greylock 6-foot-4 center Jenna Benzinger to two first-half rebounds.
"I just think Liv had an incredible game tonight," Drury coach Brian Flagg said of the 5-10 Carlson. "She was tasked with shutting down one of the best rebounders in Western Massachusetts. Jenna Benzinger is a force to be reckoned with under the basket.
"Our goal was to eliminate as best we could her rebounding, and I think Olivia did a tremendous job getting that done tonight. I just couldn't have been any more pleased with her."
Benzinger bounced back to grab 10 second-half rebounds, but the Mounties (2-1) could not come all the way back from a 15-point half-time deficit after the scoreless second quarter.
The Mounties did make a run starting at the end of the third quarter, and it started with Benzinger's putback of an offensive rebound to make it 31-18 after three.
Mount Greylock's Lauren Howard started the fourth quarter with another putback, and the Mounties scored the next three points to get within eight, 31-23, with about five minutes left.
That's when Katlyn Toomey took over.
The Drury senior went to the foul line on three straight possessions, going six-for-six to build the lead back to to push the lead back to 14 points with 3:48 on the clock.
"Real big moment," Flagg said. "And that might have been the swing in the second half. Games are won or lost at the free throw line. If you can't make free throws, bad things are going to happen.
"We've been shooting free throws all week. It's one of the fund-raisers we do - a free throw fund-raiser for our team. So it's definitely a focus for us. And she really kept the momentum our way by hitting those free throws."
Mount Greylock did not get closer than 12 the rest of the way.
Drury travels to Athol on Saturday for an afternoon game. Mount Greylock is off until Tuesday, when it hosts Hoosac Valley.
The Mounties will look to avoid the slow start that put them in a deep hole on Thursday night.
"We just played with more aggression [in the second half]," Mount Greylock coach John Jacobbe said. "We have a mix of veterans and new players, and this was enemy territory and we came out with a little jitters.
"We've got to fix a lot of things. It's a marathon, not a sprint."