Lee boys basketball battles back to get by Mount Greylock at home

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LEE — The simplest way to explain the 2018-19 Lee Wildcats is with their track record of overcoming adversity.

After starting the season 2-4, they ran off three-straight wins before Thursday's game.

The Wildcats found themselves trailing 31-24 at halftime against Mount Greylock. Just like they dug themselves out of the 2-4 hole, they found a way on Thursday, coming back to defeat the Mounties 59-53.

"I think we just had to find ourselves as a team," senior Ben Harding said after the win. "We just had to fall in love with winning again. Lee hasn't [won] in a while but I think we are determined to keep chasing [wins].

The Wildcats (6-4) led 14-9 at the end of one and the path to four-straight wins seemed to be clear. While Greylock (2-6) is young, the Mounties weren't going to roll over against a Wildcats team that features five seniors and a starting front court of Harding and Myles Whitney-Nason, who were averaging a combined 32 points per game.

In the second quarter, the Greylock showcased the talent it's young core has, cutting through the Lee full-court press to find open looks. Led by Toby Foehl's 14 second-quarter points, Greylock showed it could compete with the top teams in the Berkshire South.

The Wildcats went into halftime down seven and looking for answers.

"I tell them everyday that this game is a grind," Lee coach Jason Bliss said. "It's a game of runs and we just have to be on the right end of that final run."

Even though Harding was often double-, and even triple-teamed, the grind never stops and the Wildcats keep going to him.

Once again, the big man delivered.

In the third quarter, Harding scored 10 of his team's 15 points, ending the night with a team-high 25.

The Wildcats outscored the Mounties 15-6 through seven minutes, 50 seconds of the third quarter, but Foehl wasn't going to let the Mountie-lead slip away easily, draining a step-back three followed by a block to end the frame. With eight minutes to play, Greylock was hanging on to a one-point, 40-39 lead.

After a quiet three quarters, Whitney-Nason provided the Wildcats with a boost in the fourth, scoring five-quick points and eight in the quarter. Lee fought back to tie the game at 50, before Declan Drozd drained a three, his only basket in the game, to give Lee its first lead since early in the third quarter.

The Wildcats would never look back.

Greylock had its opportunities to steal one in Lee, however, struggles from the free-throw line would seal it's fate. The Mounties missed seven, fourth-quarter free throws and a total 13 of their 21 attempts on the night.

"You can't win Berkshire County basketball games scoring in the 30s and 40s," Greylock coach Bob Thistle said. "It's not a moral victory, but it was good to see us put up 50 points tonight. We have to work on our free throws and just being more clutch down the stretch. That comes with the day-in, day-out of experience. These guys work hard everyday and we've dug ourselves a hole, but we aren't done yet."

Even without starting point guard Mitch Jezouit, who was out with the flu, the Greylock defense gave Lee trouble.

"They're a good defensive team that is very well coached," Bliss added.

Greylock will get another opportunity to snap its losing steak when the Mounties welcome McCann Tech for a 5:30 p.m. game on Saturday.

For the Wildcats, they will try to make it five straight as they welcome Athol, also on Saturday, with tip scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

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MOUNT GREYLOCK (53)

Foehl 8-6-28, Santos 0-0-0, Locklear 3-1-7, Paris 3-1-7, Waynick 1-0-2, Sheridan 2-0-4, Brady 1-0-2, Wellspeak 1-0-3. Totals 19-8-53.

LEE (59)

Drozd 1-1-4, Whitney-Nason 4-2-11, Bartini 2-0-5, Jimenez 1-2-4, Harding 8-9-25, Redstone 2-0-4, O'Brien 2-2-6. Totals 20-15-59.

Mount Greylock     9     22     9     13     —     53

Lee     14     10     15     20     —     59

3-point goals — MG: 7 (Foehl 6, Wellspeak), Lee: 4 (Drozd, Whitney-Nason, Bartini, Harding).

Jake Mendel can be reached at Jmendel@berkshireeagle.com, @Jmendel94 on Twitter and 413-496-6252.


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