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Wildcats eliminate Indians 

LEE — Turners Falls High School played a bold style Monday night against Lee High School in opening-round action of the Western Massachusetts Division III Boys’ Basketball Ttournament.

Aimed at creating steals at one end and finishing with jumpers at the other, it paid off through the first half. But in the second half, well, tired legs led to missed shots and Turners saw a 31-31 halftime tie end in a 55-41 loss.

“We were really tired, I think,” Turners coach Gary Mullins said. “We gave up quite a bit of size and it caught up with us.”

Lee height advantage was visibly apparent. Malcolm Smith (7 points), arguably the tallest Indians player on the court at any given time, stood several inches shorter than the Lee frontcourt. But the height advantage wasn’t an issue at first. Smith and company were active on the defensive end in the first half, creating 12 steals to stay in the game. The team coupled the defensive effort with five 3-pointers in the opening half, three from Melvin Moreno (10 points)

“We had to shoot well to be in it and we did that in the first half,” Mullins said.

In the opening period, Lee hopped out to a 12-6 lead after five minutes of play. But after a converted and-one by Lee’s Heamon Williams (22 points), Turners answered immediately when Wyatt Bourbeau (9 points) hit Moreno for a 3. Lee answered with a jumper but Liam Ellis (8 points) came right back to sink a shot on a baseline drive.

Turners capped the quarter when Bourbeau hit a wide-open 3 to tie it 14-14. Then, after a Lee turnover, Bourbeau cut through the middle of the lane for a layup to give the Indians a 16-14 edge.

The second quarter was much the same. The two teams went back and forth and Turners hung tough by hitting timely 3s. One of those 3s, this one by Moreno, made it 24-20 Turners midway through. But Lee did not allow the lead to build. Jake LePrevost (game-high 24 points) hit a jumper to cut the deficit to two. Then, after a pair of Bourbeau free throws, LePrevost drilled a 3 to cut the lead to one. Lee managed to create a three-point lead at 31-28 in the closing stages of the first half, but Bourbeau found Ellis for a 3 to tie it 31-31 heading into the break.

After the interval, Turners’ legs started to wobble.

The Indians opened the quarter with a Bourbeau layup, but before their next basket, Lee went on a 10-0 run, sparked by six interior points.

“[Lee] could just turn around and shoot the ball down low, and that was tough,” Mullins explained.

Turners halted the run with a 3 by Ellis but Williams came back down court to hit a tough turnaround jump shot, then, on the next possession, pulled down an offensive rebound and went right back up with two Turners defenders on him to make it 45-36 Lee.

“They extended their zone a bit further out in the second half and took us out of our flow,” Mullins said.

In the fourth quarter, things didn’t get much better. Lee opened up on a 6-0 run, capped by a jumper from Williams, before Smith could hit a free throw to open the Turners scoring.

“We have been a good second-half team this year,” Mullins said, “but tonight, with all that banging around out there, we got tired. Then, we got emotionally tired. And when that happens, you’re done.”

Summer Forest-Bulley (6 points) and Smith each added one more hoop late in the fourth but the four points were too little, too late for the Indians.

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