Basketball teams get early start


LEE -- It was still November, and Lee High School was already abuzz with bouncing basketballs.

"We've been in the gym for four days," Lenox girls coach Nicole Patella said on Nov. 30. "It doesn't bother me because it gives the girls a chance to run. Putting stuff in and they're kind of stagnant in practice. Just gives them a chance to run."

Patella's Millionaires were one of eight teams that met in Lee last Friday for an early jamboree. Some, like the Monument Mountain boys, hadn't finalized their varsity roster yet. The final football games in Massachusetts had yet to be played, but basketball was firmly on the minds of the coaches and players.

"It's weird but it's a good way to actually see how the plays have been going over," said Lenox's Liz Mitts. "I like how we get an early start. We can kind of get the nerves out, start seeing each other, start actually having some serious competition."

Things will get serious -- for real -- tonight when four area teams, including the Lenox girls, play their season openers. Last week's event was organized by Lee athletic director Art Reilly in the fall. When he approached boys basketball coach Dan Korte with the idea, Korte thought it was a great way to get the schools in the southern part of the county together.

Teams played two eight-minute quarters in each scrimmage. Korte said the plays weren't too complex, but it was a good opportunity to get on the court.

"If you just practice, practice, practice every single day it can get a little dry, a little monotonous," Korte said. "More for the kids probably, but also for the coaches it's a nice way to break that up and sort of remember the big picture of why we're here and what we want to do."

The night still had its occasional competitive moment. When the Lee and Lenox girls met in a rematch of last year's Western Massachusetts Division III semifinal, the game had a bit of a poetic ending. Mitts put Lenox up late before defending All-Eagle Most Valuable Player Stephanie Young scored to end the game in a 23-23 tie.

"It was nice, especially in game situations where you can let the kids make the mistakes and there's no pressure on them," said Lee coach Gary Wellington. "I thought it was nice. Lenox is a good team. We got to play them again. ... They get a look at us. We get a look at them. I'm sure they're going to go back and check their notes and we're going to check ours."

Wellington said he was looking for game timing and who would be ready to step up into the rotation. Those were the same questions the Monument boys were hoping to answer.

"I think we did good," said senior Jesse Dupont. "This is our last day of tryouts pretty much. We're still trying to figure out our core team. It was a good to have a scrimmage this early because it brings the team closer together."


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