Photo Gallery | Lee bests Franklin Tech in Western Mass. opener
LEE — The Lee girls weren't thinking ahead, but one might excuse them if the Wildcats were.
After all, were the Wildcats able to get past Franklin Tech in the first round of the Western Massachusetts Division IV basketball tournament, they would have a rematch against a team that handled them fairly easily on opening night.
The first part of that came without a lot of difficulty as the Lee defense held the visiting 11th-seeded Eagles without a field goal for nearly 13 minutes and pulled away for a 50-25 win at Cinella Gym Monday night.
That means the sixth-seeded Wildcats get No. 3 Monson in the quarterfinals, a team that beat them 41-28 in the opener.
"We didn't have Mikayla [DeSantis] coming off the bench, which was pretty bad for us. We were kind of struggling offensively. It was we were trying to get back in the swing of things because it was the beginning of the season," said Lee's Karli Retzel. "I think we have really evolved in the scoring aspect of the game."
Retzel had 11 of her game-high 16 points in the first quarter, and battled a box-and-one defense all night. The Wildcat guard had little trouble getting her shot as the Wildcats led 17-12 after one quarter.
"She's an outstanding player," Franklin Tech coach Shawn Knightly said. "We knew that coming in."
The Wildcats took a lot of the suspense out of the game by holding Franklin Tech to six free throws in the second quarter. In fact, the visitors scored only 13 points in the final three quarters combined.
And in that opening quarter, the Wildcats rolled out to a 10-4 lead, forcing a Franklin Tech time out after Retzel drained a 15-foot jumer from the left baseline.
"The first few minutes for us really determine how we're going to play for the rest of the game," said Lee's Kendra Williams. "It was important to come out strong and set the tone."
The margin of victory could have been bigger had the Wildcats been able to find the target a bit more frequently. Lee was 8 of 20 from the floor in the first half.
The rest of Lee's game was working nicely. The Wildcats outrebounded Franklin Tech 25-15 in the first half and 49-33 in the game. Brianna Hawley had a double-double with 11 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Williams and Cara Walker had eight boards each for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats also forced 23 turnovers, 12 in the first half. Franklin Tech had lots of trouble with the Lee full-court press.
"We've been working really hard in practice these last few weeks, really trying to get our press where it needs to be," said Wildcat head coach Jenna Gangell. "We did a much better job with it tonight. We're getting there."
FRANKLIN TECH (25)
Adams 1-3-5, Wilder 0-0-0, Barrett 0-0-0, Leh 2-2-6, Merritt 0-0-0, Kidder 0-0-0, Harris 0-0-0, Andrews 4-4-12, Townsley 1-0-2. Total 8-9-25.
Williams 2-0-4, Walker 2-0-4, Bartini 2-0-4, Retzel 6-2-16, Fera 1-0-2, Finnegan 2-0-5, Hawley 2-7-11, DeSantis 2-0-4, Sands 0-0-0, Macchi 0-0-0. Totals 19-9-50.
3-point goals — L 3 (Retzel 2, Finnegan).
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.