LEE -- Evan Lanoue's introduction to the Lenox-Lee basketball rivalry was a successful one.
"They said it was going to get crazy up here. I didn't know it was that crazy," said the Lenox point guard, who transferred from Pittsfield. "These stands were packed. It was fun. I could feel the energy. I could feel the adrenaline running through my veins, and it was fun to be a part of."
It was more fun because Lanoue and his Millionaire teammates knocked off the South Division leader with a decisive 77-42 win over Lee Friday night. Lanoue and Bailey Patella combined to outscore the entire Lee team. Patella had a game-high 26 points and Lanoue added 22 for the Millionaires, who took the lead for keeps midway through the first quarter on a drive to the hoop by Lanoue, a junior.
Patella nearly had a triple-double. He finished with the 26 points, 18 rebounds and eight blocked shots. He also had three assists. Lanoue had the 22 points and a game-high four assists.
For part of the first quarter, the game was close and Lenox led only 17-13 after one quarter. Lenox outscored Lee 13-3 in the second quarter and the Wildcats were held without a point for the final 5:10 of the second quarter.
"I thought we got great looks in the first half. I thought we got the looks we were looking for. We just couldn't put the ball in the hoop," said Lee coach Dan Korte. "In the second half, we did not handle adversity well.
"We've got to really do a better job of when things are going not great, of digging in, being tough and coming together."
Heamon Williams was a one-man wrecking crew for Lee. He finished with 24 points and a game-high 17 rebounds. Williams is now 46th on the Berkshire County all-time scoring list with 1,049 points. If he gets three points in his next game, Williams will pass former Wildcat standout Tony Brown.
The Wildcats trailed 30-16 at halftime, a margin that was anything but insurmountable in high school basketball. Williams had 11 points at the break while Patella had 13 and Lanoue 10.
But when the Wildcats managed only one basket in the first three minutes of the third quarter, the Millionaires were on their way. On Lee's second possession of the third quarter, Williams had a shot blocked by Patella and the ball went to Ben Herrick. Herrick took off and scored on the fast break. Korte called a quick time out, but it did little good. After the two teams traded hoops, Herrick hit a 3-pointer and the Millionaires continued on their way.
A lot of the damage in the game was done by Patella, the sophomore forward. He had 13 points in each half and blocked four shots in each half.
"I think the defense definitely helped. Heamon, he scored 24, but he could have had a lot more opportunities," said Patella. "We kept him from that. On the boards, we did a good job."
The Millionaires moved the ball well and had 10 assists to show for it. Many of their baskets came off the break and some of those points followed 22 Wildcat turnovers.
Lenox maintained the double-digit lead throughout the second half, and Lenox's Kris Vahle (13 points) put the exclamation point on the victory when he drained a 3-ball from the right wing with 50 seconds left in the third quarter. The fourth quarter was academic.
The Millionaires are a win from making the Western Mass. Division IV tournament, but will have a tough road to travel as four of their next five games are on the road.
"They're playing hard. They're playing with some heart," said Sibley. "They're working together well. It might have taken seven weeks, but they're finally coming together."
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