SHEFFIELD >> It might not have been the prettiest game of Mount Everett's season, and the final 12-point spread might have been a bit too kind to the Eagles.
But at the end of the day, a win is a win. And for a team that hadn't beaten Mount Greylock in a decade, the Eagles were ready to celebrate after posting a 45-33 win over the Mounties on Friday night in Sheffield.
Gwendolyn Carpenter scored 20 points — 14 at the line — to set the tone for Mount Everett (11-3, 3-1), and after giving up an early lead the Eagles figured things out down the stretch to breath new life into their Berkshire County South title chances.
"It's awesome," Mount Everett coach Scott Rote said of the win. "We were talking before the game started ... In my 15 years of coaching, we hadn't beaten Greylock in 10 years.
"This was huge for us for a variety of reasons. Getting us into a potential tie for first in the South, [and] for the tournament to play a quality team like Greylock and beat them on our home court is awesome."
The Mounties (9-6, 5-1) made things interesting after a slow start saw them fall behind 17-6, but the high-water mark came too early in the game, and the Mounties had to settle for a loss on the road.
After trailing 23-18 at halftime, Greylock came out and went inside to Jenna Benzinger (14 points) to get the mojo going, and the junior obliged with six points over the first four minutes to put Greylock up 24-23 — its first lead of the game. Haley Reinhard scored on another bucket to push the lead to three, but then the Eagles wrestled back control for the rest of the contest.
"We took a 3-point lead and we could have broke them with a run after that, but it never happened," Greylock coach John Jacobbe said. "[Mount Everett] chipped away and then got the lead back. You work hard to come back from a lead, and sometimes it's tough to go 32 minutes. Disappointing loss, but my girls battled hard."
With Greylock missing starting guard Ari Walden with an injury, Everett came out hot to start. The Eagles scored the game's first seven points, with a Parker Snyder triple putting the team up 7-0, while Greylock struggled for rhythm. After one, Mount Everett led 17-6.
Greylock started its comeback attempt started in the second. The Mounties scored eight of the first nine points in the quarter, and trimmed the deficit down to three on a jumper from Rachel Voller with under a minute to go. But a pair of free throws from Carpenter — who shot 14 of 22 from the line — put the Eagles up 23-18 at the break.
The third quarter again started in Greylock's advantage, and after the Reinhard bucket Rote started to get nervous on the Everett sideline.
"I thought we were starting to falter with the fact we didn't know what to do with Benzinger," Rote said. "They were getting it more inside, the guards weren't, y'know, so much doing their duty, with what we were trying to do."
But that's why the school pays Rote. Rote switched up his defensive scheme, drifting from the man-to-man/box-and-one defense to a 3-2 zone to try and put pressure on the ballhandlers.
Benzinger was limited to just a pair of free throws the rest of the way.
"When we went to that 3-2, we tried to push it to the zone and hope that [Jess] Abbot or Snyder could play up on Benzinger as much as they could — fronting and backsiding her — we felt that it would work, and it did," said Rote.
In the fourth, Everett helped seal the game by going 8 of 12 at the free-throw line.
With the win, things in the South got a lot more complicated. Everett and Greylock will meet once more, and the winner of that should have the inside track on the league title. But Lee, which picked up an overtime win over Lenox on Friday, is 3-2 in the league and still has to play Greylock on Feb. 8. In theory, all three could still tie for first in the league. St. Joseph and Lenox already have more than two losses in the league.
"[Mount Everett] knew they had to get a win against us because we hadn't lost in the league yet," Jacobbe said. "Now, it's wide open for Lee, Mount Everett and us. They took the first game, now its a must that we win the second game."
Benzinger finished with 17 rebounds along with her points. Carpenter filled the stat sheet, swiping seven steals, grabbing five rebounds and dishing three assists. Emily Coon had six points and four assists for Everett, and Lauren Howard had five points and 10 boards for Greylock.
MOUNT GREYLOCK (33)
Byrnes 1-0-2, Flynn 0-0-0, Reinhard 2-0-4, Albert 1-0-2, Voller 1-0-2, E. Cerveira 0-0-0, Stripp 1-0-2, Howard 2-3-5, K. Cerveira 1-0-2, Benzinger 6-2-14. Totals 14-5-33.
MOUNT EVERETT (45)
Coon 2-2-6, Carpenter 3-14-20, Ullrich 1-2-4, Abbott 2-0-4, Snyder 2-0-6, Netzer 2-1-5. Totals 12-19-45.
3-point goals — ME 2 (Snyder 2).