AMHERST, Mass. -- Emma Stanton scored 27 points Saturday morning to lead the Quaboag girls basketball team to a 56-28 win over Lee in the Western Massachusetts Division 4 Championship Game at Curry Hicks Cage.
The second-seeded Cougars (17-7) outrebounded the top-seeded Wildcats (18-5) by a margin of 60-33 as Lee played without 5-foot-8 forward Mikayla DiSantis and 5-9 Brianna Hawley, who rolled her ankle in Tuesday's semi-final win.
"To be honest with you, the kids who stepped up to fill in some of those roles today played well," Lee High coach Rick Puleri said. "It's just that those two kids are ... irreplaceable for us. They bring so much to the table.
"But the kids who stepped up did a really nice job."
An already depleted Lee roster was further hampered when three Wildcats earned three fouls apiece in the first half. Shannon Finnegan (team-high 10 points), Karli Retzel and Cara Walker each went to the locker room with three personal fouls. Walker was the only one who ended up fouling out, early in the fourth quarter.
"I told the girls that I was kind of going to roll the dice a little big because we were so short-handed," Puleri said. "I think some of that was tired legs. We were reaching a lttle too much.
"But that's a tough team to defend. They're quick, they're athletic, they can shoot. So, it doesn't surpise me."
And the Cougars, who advance to Tuesday's state semi-final at the DCU Center in Worcester, carried off a fourth Western Mass final in four tries at Curry Hicks Cage before returning to their actual section, Central Mass, for the 2017-18 season.
Stanton left her mark on the Cage -- particularly on the left wing corner at each end of the floor, where she hit six 3-pointers on Saturday.
"She loves it here," Quaboag coach Clifford Lanier said. "On Monday night [in the semi-finals] at half-time, she said, 'I think I like it better here than playing at home,' which is fine with me.
"One of the things she and I have talked about a lot is: You're a 3-point shooter. You're going to miss a few. You can't let that bother you."
Stanton made five 3s in the first half.
Three of them came during a 15-1 run to close the second quarter and open a 31-15 lead going into the locker room.
Moments after Kendra Williams (nine points, nine rebounds) converted an assist from Retzel to trim Quaboag's lead to 16-14, Stanton hit a corner 3 to get the run started.
Finnegan accounted for Lee's only point during the barrage when she was fouled in the post and made one free throw to cut the margin to 22-15.
But Quaboag scored the next nine, capping the run with a Stanton 3-pointer at the buzzer to give her team its largest lead of the half, 16 points, at the break.
Finnegan opened the second half with a 3-pointer for Lee, but Quaboag answered with an 8-0 run to establish a 21-point lead when Stanton scored inside the arc to make it 39-18.
From there, Lee matched the Cougars on the scoreboard to keep the margin around 20, but Quaboag's bench extended the lead in the fourth to account for the 56-28 final.
"These kids worked their butts off," Puleri said. "I'm so proud of these guys. They gave a great effort. And they've done that all year long, every day at practice and every game they've played all season long, they play all 32 minutes.
"It hurts right now. We wanted to come down here and win. We gave it our best shot, but Quaboag was the better team today."