LENOX — Strong shooters need confidence and a short memory when playing through a shooting slump. Through three quarters, Monument Mountain's Joe Aberdale struggled to find his touch from 3-point range. However, with his team needing to surge in the fourth quarter his trey helped spark a rally, allowing the Spartans to pull out a 55-44 win over Lee in the championship game of the South County Tournament on Wednesday. The win is Monument's first South County Tournament title after Lenox won the previous two tournaments.
Aberdale's 3-pointer gave Monument its first lead of the game, with 3 minutes and 30 seconds remaining. He followed the trey with a layup off a steal from Kevin Troiano. Free throws from Troiano and Conor Prince extended the lead to eight. Lee got no closer than six points the rest of the way. Aberdale led Monument with 15 points.
"It's always great to hit the three, and you've just got to keep shooting," Aberdale said. "We're a team, so whoever makes [the three] it brings everyone up and boosts the morale of the team."
Aberdale helped close out the game, but Lee's Matt Reynolds started the game strong and looked poised for a big night. Coming off a 32-point performance against Mount Everett on Tuesday, Reynolds scored his team's first six points, leading to a 12-4 first-quarter lead. Monument paid closer attention to Reynolds for the rest of the game, however, and the Spartans limited his damage to 17 points. With Reynolds contained, the seven-deep Wildcats seemed to tire out as the game progressed.
"We just wore down, and I'll take blame for that," Lee coach Tom Finnegan said, "I should've done a better job substituting, and keeping my guys fresh.
"Coach [Mike] Saporito did a good job. He's nine-deep and he kept throwing fresh bodies at me. We tried to do a little bit too much. ... We'll go back to the drawing board and fix it."
Lee held a nine-point lead at halftime. Zack Tinker's 3-point play cut Monument's deficit to five at the end of the third. Aberdale hit his first 3-pointer of the game with 6:10 left in the fourth, starting the comeback effort.
Monument coach Mike Saporito said he knew his team had to start chipping away at the lead late in the third quarter, if they wanted set-up a possible late-game situation. He said the his players ability to drive-and-dish to shooters helped generate open looks from deep.
"I thought in the second half we did a better job of making them play on-ball defense," he said. "We had some decent penetration out of [Branden] Perry, we had some decent penetration out Troiano, and they were unselfish where they kicked the ball back."
Tinker 2-1-5, Troiano 2-2-6, Prince 3-0-8, Perry 3-3-10, Piepho 2-2-6, Riegal 1-0-3, Newey 1-0-2, Aberdale 4-5-15. Totals: 18-13-55
Reynolds 7-2-17, Harding 3-0-6, Sampson 2-2-6, Johnson 0-3-3, Finnegan 1-1-3, Buratto 2-0-5, Castillo 2-0-4. Totals: 15-8-44.
3-point goals — MM 5 (Prince 1, Perry 1, Riegal 1, Aberdale 2). L 2 (Reynolds 1, Buratto 1).
Lee 12 11 8 13 — 44
Monument 4 10 12 29 — 55
LENOX 52, MOUNT EVERETT 43
LENOX >> Lenox put together an 18-3 run to start the third quarter to pull away for a comfortable win over Mount Everett in the consolation game of the South County Tournament.
Lenox led by two at halftime, but the Millionaires used a half-court trapping defense to harass the Eagles' ballhandlers. They forced 10 turnovers in the quarter, and did not allow a basket until the 1 minute, 53 second mark. Everett was outscored 18-5 for the quarter,
"I thought if we turned up the pressure a little bit and got a couple easier baskets, got into the flow a little more and got into a transition pace, then maybe we would be a little more successful," said Lenox coach Scott Sibley.
Lenox forced 26 turnovers in total, turning the miscues into easy points.
Everett coach Jowe Warren said he wanted to give younger players experience in the second game in as many days, and they experienced growing pains against Lenox.
"I asked a lot of young kids to step up and take up different roles tonight," he said. "It was a learning experience. That's the only way they're going to learn is by going on the court and playing."
Lenox got balanced scoring from its entire team, with six players reaching the scoring column. Kevin Coakley led the Millionaires with 18 points. Michael Downer added 11.
Everett struggled offensively, but Kenny Krom put together a strong all-around effort. The 6-foot-5 post player scored 20 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and made five blocks.
MOUNT EVERETT (43)
C. Conaway 4-0-9, Litchfield 4-0-10, Gulotta 0-2-2, Robitaille 1-0-2, Krom 7-6-20. Totals: 16-8-43
Reynolds 3-0-6, Sheppard 1-1-3, Parkinson 4-1-9, Coakley 6-6-18, Hedges 2-1-5, Downer 4-0-11. Totals: 20-9-52
3-point goals — ME 3 (Conaway 2, Litchfield 1). L 3 (Downer 3).