Everett girls win W. Mass. hoops opener in OT
HATFIELD -- In overtime, the smallest player on the floor delivered the biggest performance.
Starting in place of injured senior Natasha MacLeay, seventh-grader Gwendolyn Carpenter controlled overtime and pushed No. 9 Mount Everett past Smith Academy, 53-51 in the first round of the Western Massachusetts Division IV tournament on Monday night.
Carpenter scored eight of the Eagles' 10 points in overtime as part of her game-high 19.
"She plays well beyond her years," Everett coach Scott Rote said. "She's played like that for us all year. A 12-year-old kid taking a game like this and realizing what's got to happen, that doesn't happen very often."
Smith coach Fran LaFond tipped his hat.
"For a seventh-grader, she's got a lot going for her," he said.
Mount Everett led for most of regulation, surviving foul trouble throughout by Deseraye Conaway.
Smith tied the game late in the third quarter, but Carpenter beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer to put the Eagles ahead 31-28 going into the final quarter.
The teams went back and forth for most for the fourth. After a 3-pointer by Yagodzinski briefly gave Smith a 38-37 edge with 3:27 left, Brooke Morehouse and Conaway hit back to back 3s to make it 43-38.
Smith wouldn't go away as Everett missed enough free throws down the stretch to leave the door open. Yagodzinski, who had five 3-pointers as part of her 17 points, hit one with 3.2 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.
Rote liked the way his team bounced back in overtime.
"We knew if we stayed tough we could make a lot of good things happen," Rote said. "I give the kids a lot of kudos. They were great."
Kayla Miastkowski put Smith ahead early in overtime with a basket inside. But Carpenter stole an inbounds pass and laid it in to tie the game. Two free throws by Hannah Herrick put Everett ahead 47-45 with 2:18 left.
After Jen Adamites made one free throw, Carpenter stretched the Everett edge to 49-43 with two free throws with 1:50 left.
Following another Smith turnover, Carpenter danced through Smith's 1-3-1 zone and laid the ball in to make it 51-46 with just over a minute left, essentially sealing the win.
Moorehouse added 15 points and six assists for Everett, while Herrick added 12. Yagodzinski led Smith with 17 points.
Mount Everett advances to face top-seeded Quaboag on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Warren.
"This is the start of something special," Rote said. "We knew this was going to be our year to kick-start things and get further down the line."
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