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Wildcats win overtime thriller

The Lee girls’ basketball team celebrates on its way to the bench in the second half Monday night. (Photo by Matthew Tonis)

LEE — Trailing by a point with just 16.3 second remaining in overtime, Lee sophomore Brianna Kelly stepped to the free throw line with a chance to give her team a lead. After missing the first of two attempts, Wildcats coach Rick Puleri called timeout.

“I could see that she was nervous,” Puleri said. “After the first one, I felt like she just needed to calm down… I sat her down and I told her to close her eyes, take a few deep breaths. I said, ‘You’ve shot thousands and thousands of free throws, every day in practice. Go through your routine, take a deep breath and knock it in.’ And to her credit, she did.”

Kelly’s second point of the night tied the game for the Wildcats, who then forced a stop of Mt. Greylock on the other end. As the possession came to a close, the ball found Kelly’s hands again as the Mountie defense closed in and fouled her again, this time with 3.4 seconds showing on the game clock.

The sophomore, who was thrust into the starting lineup recently after an injury to Caroline Maloney was once again given the opportunity to lift her team to a victory. After missing the front half, once again, Kelly paused before shooting her second free throw.

“I’ve always dreamed of making a game-winning shot,” Kelly relayed. “I just relaxed and I made it and it was so exciting.”

The Mounties could not get off a shot in the final seconds as the Wildcats held on to a 42-41 victory, giving Lee its 10th victory of the season. That total is already the most since 2016-17 for the Wildcats, which was also the last time the program made it to the postseason.

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