AMHERST >> The Mount Everett girls basketball team made history Saturday morning, but that couldn't mask their disappointment.
The Eagles got to their first-ever Western Massachusetts basketball championship game here at the Curry Hicks Cage, but couldn't close the deal as fifth-seeded Quaboag handled the No. 2-seeded Eagles 61-41 in the Division IV championship game.
"This has been incredible," Everett guard Gwendolyn Carpenter said. "[Assistant coach Tom Kinne] keeps telling us to enjoy the journey. We're the first team that's come here for girls basketball.
"It's been really special. It brought together the school and it's been a lot of fun."
The Eagles (18-5) led by as many as nine points in the first half, and despite trailing 25-21 at halftime, opened the third quarter with a 7-2 run to take a 28-27 lead over the Cougars. But Quaboag (16-8), two-time defending Division IV champions, took a three-point lead after three quarters and opened the fourth with a 12-2 run to dash the dreams of the kids from Sheffield.
Carpenter finished with a team-high 15 points and added 15 rebounds. Kelsey Netzer scored 11. Four Quaboag players scored in double figures, and three of them had double-doubles. Lexi Paquette had a game-high 21 points and 11 rebounds. Eighth-grader Kiarra Dorman had 11 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, while her sister Shaylah had 11 points and 13 boards.
Sometimes, it's about the journey and not the result of that journey. And if you had told the Eagles back in November that they would have been playing basketball the second week of March, there might have been some really quizzical looks.
"It's definitely hard to believe" that the Eagles got to the Cage on March 12, said Jess Abbott. "We're really proud of ourselves for making it this far."
The way the game started, it looked like the Eagles were going to be there until the end. They scored the first seven points and jumped out to a 13-4 lead, turning the game into a track meet. That was because the Eagles made six of their first nine shots from the floor, including a game-opening 3-pointer from Netzer.
From that point, the Cougars picked up their defense, made it harder for Carpenter to orchestrate things in the open court and started rebounding like demons. For the game, Quaboag out-rebounded Everett 56-29 and had a 34-12 advantage in the second half.
"We were one-and-done. We could not get another good shot," said Everett coach Scott Rote.
In fact, the last offensive rebound for the Eagles came with just under 3 minutes left in the third quarter. Abbott snared the rebound of a miss by Parker Snyder, fed the ball to Carpenter who then got the assist on a hoop by Madison Ullrich. That tied the game at 32.
From that point, the Eagles were outscored 29-9, and seemed to run out of gas as the two-time champs completed a three-peat.
"We had shirts made up that said 'One team, one family, one community.' This brought a community together," said Rote. "A community of respect that Mount Everett had not had for years."
Stanton 5-0-12, C. Paquette 0-0-0, S. Dorman 4-3-11, Bolaske 1-0-2, L. Paquette 8-5-21, K. Dorman 5-1-11, Routhier 2-0-4. Totals 25-9-61.
MOUNT EVERETT (41)
Coon 0-3-3, Carpenter 5-5-15, Ullrich 0-0-0, Robitaille 0-0-0, Abbott 2-2-6, Snyder 2-0-4, Netzer 4-1-11. Totals 16-11-41
3-point goals — Q 2 (Stanton 2). ME 2 (Netzer 2).
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.