LENOX — Four times in the second half of Thursday’s MIAA Division V Round of 32 game, host Lenox built up double-digit leads against Renaissance. But just like their nickname, the Phoenix rose four different times.
They could not, however catch up.
“That’s a good question,” Lenox’s Michael Butler said, when asked how the Millionaires held the Phoenix off and scored a 60-55 win in the tournament opener for both teams.
“I think that our team knows what to do when that stuff happens,” he said. “We can keep that energy, keep that pace against these other teams. I think that’s what we’re pretty good at.”
Butler had a game-high 20, including 13 in the second half, as the 14th-seeded Millionaires staved off No. 19 Renaissance to move on in the 43-team Division V field.
“Tonight, thank God, we were able to hold on. I don’t think it was by far our best game or anywhere near it,” Lenox coach Scott Sibley said. “We kind of disappeared for a few minutes here and there and kind of played out of control. We did not play our type of basketball.”
On a night when each team had 25 turnovers and Lenox was out-rebounded 46-40, the Millionaires still came away with the win.
“We were definitely able to weather the storms,” Sibley said. “It’s a good group of kids. They do work hard. I think when it comes down to tough times, these guys pull together instead of the individual stuff that kind of gets us in trouble every now and then.”
Butler’s final two points, coming after Brendan Armstrong rebounded a miss by Renaissance’s Allen Miranda, gave the Millionaires a seven-point cushion in which to ride out the final 55 seconds.
With the win, the Millionaires will play the winner of Friday’s Round of 32 game between third-seeded Drury and No. 30 Ayer Shirley. Lenox lost to Drury 87-57 in the season opener and lost 66-40 in the Western Massachusetts Class C semifinal round.
The Millionaires got 13 steals out of Renaissance’s 25 turnovers. Armstrong had a game-high six steals and Butler had four. Armstrong also had a double-double with 12 points and a team-best 11 rebounds.
Renaissance got double-doubles out of Oliver Figuereo and Demari Peters. Peters had 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Figuereo pulled down 16 boards and scored 10 points. Miranda led the Phoenix with 16 points.
After trailing by as many as seven points in the first quarter, Lenox got a pair of free throws by Armstrong with three seconds left in the quarter to cut the deficit to 19-14.
Over the final four minutes of the second quarter, Lenox used a 12-2 run to take the lead for keeps. The big hoop came with 12 seconds left when Lenox’s Emmett Shove turned over Renaissance’s Marvin Jeanmary and Butler scored to make it 33-28. Michael Ward, who finished with 11 points, made 1 of 2 free throws to end the half with Lenox up 34-28.
The Millionaires opened the third quarter on a 6-2 run that not even a timeout by Phoenix coach Quintin Fowlkes could stop. The visitors responded with six straight and that made it a four-point game again.
Those swings in momentum were the story of the second half. Lenox led by 12 with 1:49 to play in the third, only to have Renaissance’s Justin Hicks hit a 3-point basket with 1:27 left and Miranda going to the line and making two with 31 seconds left. The score was 50-43.
In the fourth quarter, Butler made a 3-point shot to put Lenox up 10 with 6:45 left. The Millionaires made that stand up until the final 2:35. That’s when Renaissance went on a final 9-2 run. Figuereo’s hoop with 42 seconds left cut the lead to 60-55, and he was fouled. He was called for a lane violation on the ensuing free throw, and Lenox ran out the clock.
“They did a good job of forcing us into bad shots at times, rushing us at times, and just kind of making us uncomfortable in moments where we needed to settle ourselves,” the Renaissance coach said. “They did a great job of doing back taps and getting some quick turnovers when we were pushing the ball. We’d get the turnover we want but then we wouldn’t secure the ball on our side of the floor.
“All credit to how those boys were hustling on defense. They earned that.”