Mt. Everett bounces Turners Falls

Recorder Staff
Thursday, March 01, 2018

TURNERS FALLS — A great player rising to the occasion can take a team a long way in March.

Enter Gwen Carpenter.

The Mount Everett Regional School junior point guard poured in 15 fourth-quarter points Thursday night, finishing with a game-high 35 to lift the fifth-seeded Eagles to a come-from-behind 60-55 win over No. 4 Turners Falls High School in a Western Massachusetts Division IV Girls’ Basketball quarterfinals.

Mt. Everett (13-9) advanced to the WMass semifinals, where it will play top-seeded Monson High School (14-7) at the Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst.

“She put on a show,” lauded Mt. Everett head coach Scott Rote of Carpenter, who had 23 points in the second half as the Eagles rallied from a 28-23 halftime deficit. “I think she’s the best player in Western Mass. in Division IV… I think she’s the best in our county. She’d be putting up these types of performances playing in higher divisions as well.”

Turners (13-9) had things going in its favor late in the third quarter before Carpenter threw the visitors on her back. The Powertown held a 43-35 advantage with 1 minutes, 24 seconds remaining after an old-fashioned three-point play from Chloe Ellis (16 points).

From there on, however, Carpenter tok over. She outscored Turners herself, 18-12, over the game’s final 9:24, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 5:40 remaining to give the Eagles a 46-45 advantage.

“It was not an unfamiliar spot for us,” admitted Carpenter of the close second-half spread. “We seem to find ourselves in a lot of games like this over the past couple of years.”

Makenzie Ullrich (6 points) drilled a 3-pointer later in the frame to help extend the lead to 51-45. Turners cut the deficit to 55-53 with a layup from Dabney Rollins with 42 seconds remaining, but the hosts could not get the ball out of Carpenter’s hands in the final seconds. She hit five of six free throws in the final 39 seconds to seal the deal.

“We couldn’t stop her,” Turners head coach Ted Wilcox admitted of Carpenter. “You put two players on her and she finds the open player. You know where she likes to shoot and she was still able to get shots off. We just couldn’t make enough plays in the fourth quarter.”

Turners used an 8-0 run in the second quarter to open up a 20-12 lead, and the hosts took advantage of a plethora of Mt. Everett turnovers in the opening half to head into the locker room with the 28-23 lead. Aliyah Sanders hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first half and had 9 of her 12 points before intermission.

“We had way too many turnovers,” said Carpenter of the slow start. “We just needed to spread the floor, settle down and play the way we’re capable of playing. It’s important in a game like this not to get down on yourself.”

Turners could never create enough separation to run away from the Eagles. Maddy Chmyzinski (10 points) and Sanders hit back-to-back 3s in the third quarter, but the advantage never got higher than the 8-point margin when the Powertown led 43-35.

“We know we’re a 55- to 60-point-a-night scoring team,” Rote said. “So halftime, we’re only at 23 but we know we’re going to be able to score points.”

Carpenter made sure of it.

“She’s an amazing player,” Rote said. “She has such court sense out there. You don’t even have to coach her. She knows what to do and she’s only a junior. She’s been this way since the ninth grade. Just a dominant performance from an outstanding player.”

The Eagles focused the bulk of their defensive attention on Chmyzinski, Turners’ 1,000-point scorer. Rote took turns putting Logan Willi and Madeline VonRuden on her, though she did wiggle free for a pair of 3-pointers on the night. Sanders and Ellis carried the first-half offensive load, combining for 16 of the team’s 28 points.

After breaking through to reach the Cage last year, Turners fell just shy in its return attempt. Thursday’s game marked the final outing for seniors Sanders, Chmyzinski, Ellis, Abby Loynd and Emma Miner. It was also the final game for Wilcox, who is retiring.

“These seniors put their heart into this team,” Wilcox praised. “It’s going to hurt now, but after the hurt goes away, down the road they’re going to be able to look back and know they put Turners back on the map.”

Loynd finished with 7 points and Rollins, a sophomore, tossed in 6. Freshman Taylor Murphy scored 4 points on the night.