Monson Girls Stop Lenox in Western Mass Final

By Stephen Sports
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AMHERST, Mass. -- Mia Krupczak scored 21 points, and the Monson girls basketball team built a big early lead and never looked back in a 71-52 win over Lenox in the Western Massachusetts Division 4 title game.
Sophie Patella had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Tabor Paul scored 20 for the Millionaires, who rallied to cut into a 17-point first-half deficit and get within eight in the third quarter but could not get over the hump.
Monson early on used its full-court press to frustrate the Millionaires and got eight first-quarter points from Kelsey Duggan to build a 22-6 lead.
"We hadn't seen that [pressure] since Hoosac and Taconic, and we can't match that kind of intensity every day in practices," Lenox coach Nicole Patella said. "We were trying to go over things in practice. ... I said, 'They don't run our plays. They don't run our defense.' So we have to be a little bit more creative when we're practicing five on five.
"And that's the thing you have to match in practice. But we'll get better at it."
Coach Patella said that the big problem in cutting into that lead for the Millionaires on Saturday was the foul trouble that took away offensive weapons when they were needed.
"The slow start, being down by 10, that didn't really bother me, because I knew we could come back," she said. "We've been doing it all season. But with Jade [Alward] and Kat [Nichols] on the bench in the third quarter, those are our 3-point shooters. And when they got back in, they felt they had to rush it, and that extra half second is huge when you're thinking about taking a 3."
Nichols ended up fouling out of the game with about two minutes left in the fourth quarter. She finished with seven points. Mia Giardina scored eight.
Lenox did not get its first field goal until nearly midway through the first quarter when Sophie Patella hit a pull-up jumper from the foul line.
It was a 15-point Monson lead going to the second quarter, but Lenox rallied from there.
Katherine Nichols hit a 3-pointer off an inbounds pass from Jade Alward to start a 7-0 spurt.
The teams then matched baskets until Monson was able to build a 17-point lead with about three minutes left in the half.
But in the last three minutes, Tabor Paul hit a pair of 3-pointers and put back an offensive rebound, and Amelia Reis got to the line in transition and converted both her free throws as Lenox went on a 10-3 run to go to the locker room down 10, 37-27.
Early in the third quarter, Ptella put back an offensive rebound, and Paul hit from outside on back-to-back Lenox possessions to cut the lead down to eight at 39-31.
But Monson scored the next 12 points -- eight from seventh-grader Oliva Chrzan, who scored 15 points in the win -- to go up by 20.
The margin stayed around 20 points the rest of the way, sending Monson on to this week's Division 4 state semi-finals against the Central Mass champion.
Lenox's Patella said that while Saturday's loss hurt, there are a lot of positives to take away from her first year back at the helm of the Millionaires' program.
"They never quit," she said. "They came in and had to adjust to a different style, and there was never any quit with them. It showed out there [Saturday].
"We have a decent core group coming back, and this group of seniors has been amazing. They can give the pep talk before a game. I wasn't needed because they were there, and the knew exactly what needed to get done."
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