Derek Gentile: Lee girls proved they belonged


This may sound incongruous, but I wanted to congratulate the Lee girls basketball team for its postseason run.

Lee lost a tough game to Ware last week, ending their season. But the team was 1-1 overall in the postseason, which is far, far more than some of the team's so-called "fans" thought would happen.

The team finished 3-17, and I heard from at least two local people that a 3-17 team shouldn't be in the postseason.

The comments were along the lines of, "I don't care why they got in, a 3-17 team doesn't belong in the tournament!"

How wrong you are, naysayers!

I admit, I enjoy rooting for the underdog, and the Lee girls were probably the underdog's underdog.

Plus, if this were women's professional or semi-professional (sorry, college) basketball, I would agree they shouldn't be playing.

But here's the point: The Wildcats played perhaps one of the toughest Division IV schedules in Western Massachusetts. They were in the Northern Division of Berkshire County, and none of the other North teams are Division IV. They are in higher divisions.

So it was a tough row to hoe. When they finished the regular season 3-17, it would have been easy to write this year off and start over next year.

But because they had a .500 record against the few Division IV teams they did play, the Wildcats were tournament-bound.

In the first round, they had to go to nearly the edge of the world, also known as Worcester, and play North Brookfield. (For the more literal-minded in the audience, I'm kidding about Worcester being near the end of the world. It was a joke. Please don't be mad.)

That's about a two-hour bus ride. When I was in college, we had a number of two- and three-hour bus rides to various hoop opponents (alas, BCC didn't have a private jet).

I can tell you, my legs were shot for about the first 10 minutes. Fortunately, of course, I didn't play much, so it was rarely a factor.

But Lee won. In fact, they won pretty convincingly, 60-21, thus fulfilling my in-house prediction that they would win that game.

I was less sure about beating No. 2 seed Ware, a good program that has experience with county teams. But the game was close until the end, and very winnable. Lee lost the game, 35-25.

But it was a cool run. It proved that it is very difficult to count Berkshire County teams out. I believe the Wildcats, had they earned a better seed, might still be playing.

Had they earned a better seed, I admit it, I'd probably be shocked, but my assertion remains.

Anyway, the run is over, and the county teams with better records now carry the ball, so to speak. But it was fun to root for the girls while it lasted.

To reach Derek Gentile:,
or (413) 496-6251.
On Twitter: @DerekGentile.


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