SPRINGFIELD -- With a minute and a half left in the first half of the 2013 Hoophall Classic's second game, Lenox was within a point of Smith Academy and had something going.
The bad news for coach Scott Sibley's Millionaires (3-6) is that the Falcons scored the final five points of the first half, and then outscored the Millionaires 18-4 to open the third quarter. That proved to be too much for Lenox to overcome as Smith Academy scored a 68-50 win on Thursday night at Springfield College's Blake Arena.
"We told them tonight that they had to come out right from the start and play 32 minutes," said Sibley. "We can't get away with 20, 22, 24 minutes like we've been able to the last couple of years. We had to come out right from the start and be consistent, which we have had a little trouble doing right now."
Robert Tharion was named the player of the game for Lenox, scoring 11 points. He had five rebounds and three steals. Keith Natale had a double-double with a game-high 26 points and 11 rebounds. Seaver Rickert didn't score and took only one shot for the Falcons, but he had 10 rebounds. Derek McMahon had 18 points for Smith and David Longstreeth added 12.
These were two of the four teams that played in last year's Western Massachusetts Division III semifinals at the Curry Hicks Cage. The win improved Smith to 10-1 and qualified them for the tournament.
The Millionaires trailed for all but the first minute, but were able to stay within contact throughout the first 16 minutes and trailed 25-19 at halftime. Lenox and Smith traded hoops to start the third quarter, but the Millionaires went ice cold. It was 27-21 with 7:38 left in the quarter after Tharion's fast-break hoop. From there, Smith went on a 13-2 run. Natale scored four points of the run. Sibley was forced to call timeout when Jared Tuttle missed a jumper, Smith's Longstreeth pulled down the rebound and McMahon converted the fast break with a drive to the basket. That hoop made it 40-23 with 4:01 left.
A Lenox miss and a turnover led to a 3 by Longstreeth, and the Millionaires couldn't catch up. Lenox was outscored 25-13.
"The third quarter killed us," said Sibley. "We seem to have one bad quarter in every game that we've been playing in, where we've been getting outscored by double digits in either the second or the third quarter. For whatever reason it is, we're still trying to figure that out."
Lenox led only once in the game, when Andrew Vickery got inside and scored on the Millionaires' first shot of the game. Natale answered with a fast break hoop and then scored when he rebounded a missed 3-point shot by Mathew Sulda. Eight unanswered points by the Falcons put them up 8-2, and they never trailed