Lee stuns Granby, upsets Rams in Division 3 quarterfinals
GRANBY — After most of his teammates were already gone, Granby junior Corey Baker waited in the locker room for a long time, still processing that the Rams’ once-promising season was over.
Baker vowed to use the 78-77 overtime loss to No. 7 Lee in the quarterfinals of the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament as motivation during the offseason that started earlier than he’d hoped.
“This hurts so bad,” said Baker, who had 16 points for Granby. “All summer, I’ll be thinking about this moment and working hard to make it farther next year.”
Early in the fourth quarter, No. 2 Granby appeared headed for Curry Hicks Cage and a trip to the semifinals as the Rams led by 12 with 6:16 left. But the Wildcats dominated the fourth quarter and overtime to deliver the upset.
“That’s a good team. Every mistake we made tonight, they took advantage of. Kudos to them,” said Granby coach Tim Sheehan, whose face was red and tear-streaked after the game. “In the first half we made the extra pass and in the second half we didn’t. That made a big difference. When that happens we’re a little easier to guard.”
Lee (14-8) advanced to face No. 6 St. Joseph (13-8) in the semifinals next week. Granby finished the season at 17-4.
Lee senior Jake LePrevost’s two free throws with 11.8 seconds left capped his 30-point performance and gave the Wildcats a 78-75 lead. Granby missed a game-tying 3-point attempt with under six seconds left and Brandon Cloutier put back the rebound hoping to get fouled as time expired. No whistle came and the final horn left Granby stunned.
Granby led 59-50 after the third quarter before Lee junior Deaglan Giarolo knocked down a 3-pointer to open the fourth. But the Rams scored the next six points to take a 65-53 lead with 6:16 left.
On its next possession, Lee drew the fourth foul on Baker. With him on the bench, the Wildcats attacked, scoring nine straight points to get within 65-62 with 3:54 left.
Sheehan called timeout to put Baker back in the game, but Granby couldn’t regain momentum. The Rams played the last 6:52 of regulation without making a field goal.
Kenney Retzel gave Lee its first lead since the first quarter on a 3-pointer that made it 67-66 with 2:32 left.
Granby sophomore guard Jesse Molin (29 points) made 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game at 67-67 with 2:25 remaining, but Heamon Williams made a tough shot in traffic with 2:05 left to put Lee ahead 69-67.
The teams traded turnovers and missed shots in the final two minutes before Williams fouled Baker going to the basket with 8.3 seconds left.
The junior made both free throws to force overtime.
Granby scored the first basket of the extra session but the Wildcats answered with five straight on a 3 by Retzel and two free throws by Williams. The trip to the line came on Baker’s fifth foul. Sheehan said the Rams missed him in crunch time.
“He’s a great player, but his leadership is most important to us,” Sheehan said. “It’s tough to lose with your best player sitting on the bench.”
The Wildcats’ lead ping-ponged from one to three points the rest of the way as Lee held on.
Andy Gifford added 16 for Granby as he, Cloutier (eight points) and Andrew Williams played in their final high school game.
“They’re a great group of kids,” Sheehan said. “Saying goodbye to them is hard.”
With a strong nucleus returning, Sheehan was optimistic about the future.
“We’re a year ahead of schedule,” he said. “I like our team for next year. I love the kids what we have.”
Matt Vautour can be reached at email@example.com.