Lee girls stopped in state D-III basketball final by Archbishop Williams

Sunday March 17, 2013

WORCESTER -- They were the usual tears you see at the end of a state championship game.

But it wasn't just the 60-33 loss to Archbishop Williams that bothered Lee's Eileen Dooley when she walked off the DCU Center court on Saturday.

"I was really upset," Dooley said. "I was happy where my team made it that far because we've just grown so close. I'm just so proud of my team to make it back to states this year, and my coach [Gary Wellington].

"I'm the last one of my family to play basketball and basketball's been like a whole family thing. It was just knowing that was the last time I would ever play basketball and I would ever play with that group of kids again."

Dooley scored 16 points in the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association's Division III championship, but even the speed of the 5-foot-2 guard was no match for the Bishops' tandem of 6-foot-3 Jaylen Williams and 6-foot Alana Gilmer. Each had 14 points and Williams ripped down 10 boards, including seven in the opening quarter.

Lee (19-6) had no answer, with potent scorer Stephanie Young shut out until the fourth quarter. The senior finished with one 3-pointer in her final high school game.

"My shots just weren't falling," Young said. "There's nothing I can really do to change it. I was shooting like I normally shot, what I normally do. They just weren't falling for me today. Just an off day."

The Wildcats got a taste of just how tough the morning ahead would be early. Archbishop Williams (23-5) scored the first 13 points of the game, with five of their first seven coming off second-chance points. The Bishops got six looks at the basket on one sequence in the second half.

Lee tried to hang tough, holding steady just nine points off the pace late in the first half. That's when Williams flew in on an offensive board, put the ball back in and drew a foul for the 3-point play. It was the start of a 13-2 run.

"We played good defense," said Lee senior Megan Gaul. "You can't say anything about it. They just grabbed the ball over us and put it back up. We tried boxing them out plenty of times. We're just small."

The struggles on the boards also hampered the Wildcats' ability to generate points on the break. Lee didn't have the firepower it needed with Young, who scored 30 points in the semifinal, held in check. Freshman Courtney Picard complemented Dooley with seven points, but no other Wildcat had more than four.

Archbishop Williams coach Jim Bancroft said he wanted Gilmer to limit Young. The Bishops didn't give the senior anything inside the arc.

"The plan was if Alana gets beat, there better be someone there to help out," Bancroft said. "It worked. If someone was there to help [Young] had to kick out because there was nowhere for her to go."

There was no path to the title for the Wildcats, either. It was the last game for six seniors -- including the entire starting lineup -- and Wellington. The coach is stepping down after five years and a state championship in 2010.

"I've had a blast," he said. "I wouldn't want to do it with any other team. If you told me you could switch teams here today, I wouldn't do it. I'll keep my team. I'll keep those kids."

Young, Dooley, Gaul and their classmates began their careers in Worcester, winning this same game three years ago. That was the first step on a road with close to 90 wins and three state final appearances. That journey ended on the same court Saturday.

"Just really sad," Young said. "I just think of going to the gym in the summer with my dad, like never doing that again. I don't know. It's just time to go, I guess."

To reach Christopher James:
or (413) 496-6252.
On Twitter: @BECJ2k.


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