SHEFFIELD -- Lenox girls basketball coach Nicole Patella said an adjustment in her team's pressure defense allowed it to pull out a 50-46 win over South Division foe Mount Everett on Thursday.
The team's new full-court press caused Everett trouble in the second half, but it was a half-court stop that sealed the game for the Millionaires.
With 30 seconds left in the game, trailing by two, Gwendolyn Carpenter of Mount Everett passed the ball to the right wing to Deseraye Conaway. Conaway fed the ball inside to Jessica Abbott, but the Lenox defense collapsed on Abbott, forcing her to quickly pass back to Conaway. Abbott's pass tipped off Conaway's hands and bounced out of bounds.
Two free throws by Jaclynn Hathaway sealed the game for Lenox on its next trip down. Hathaway hit four free throws in the fourth quarter to finish with four points.
"Considering we don't get a lot of time to practice our free throws, they were huge," Patella said. "I thought we hit a couple crucial free throws and we played great team defense."
Patella also credited eighth-grader Alice Najimy for effectively directing the offense in the fourth quarter and dribbling out of pressure when trapped.
Lenox looked to Liz Mitts early and often to get its offense going. Mitts scored the first six points of the game for the Millionaires and finished with 28.
"The guards were able to find me inside, and we were trying to get me one-on-ones inside," she said.
Pressure defense allowed the Millionaires to build a 12-point lead midway through the third quarter.
Everett was able to regroup, however, as Brooke Morehouse sank a 3-pointer off an Eagles steal to cut the lead to five to end the third.
A 7-2 run capped by a Conaway three-pointer cut the lead to two with 5:20 left in the game, but Everett would score only two points for the reminder of the game. Conaway finished with 14 to lead Everett.
"That's the thing with this group -- they never quit," Everett coach Scott Rote said. "This is the deepest team I've had in years, and what's nice about them is they don't give up."
For Lenox, Patella said it's nice to see her team get a division win, on the road, in a high pressure game.
"It helps to know that we have a young group out there and they didn't rattle," she said. "I'm just proud that they didn't get rattled and they didn't give up that lead."
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