WINSTED >> The Lewis Mills Spartans got the revenge they wanted against Housatonic, after losing to them last week costing themselves the outright Berkshire League Title, beating them in the Berkshire League Tournament semifinals, 55-36.
“We all wanted it, we were disappointed in our effort last week,” said Lewis Mills head coach Joe Capitani.
“We wanted to get revenge,” said Lewis Mills junior Natalie Ruel, who missed the last match up between the schools, due to a leg injury.
When they met on Feb. 20 at Housatonic the Mountaineers surprised the entire league when they defeated the Spartans, 49-38, including a 17-0 third quarter.
After the loss to the Mountaineers, Ruel came back and played sparingly in the Spartans next game, win over Terryville to clinch a three-way tie for the BL regular season title.
Ruel would play difference maker for the Spartans this time around.
“It’s definitely better with her in the lineup, she mixes up the offense,” said Spartans senior Teagan Dunn who scored a game high 20 points.
“The speed of the offense is a lot quicker with her out there,” said Housatonic head coach Frank Hadsell. “She makes better decisions.”
Ruel scored 13 points to help lead the Spartans.
“We just have different looks; I make the right passes,” said Ruel of her first full game action since Jan. 17 a win over Housatonic. “It felt good, I am still getting back.”
The Mountaineers coming off a win against Northwestern in the quarterfinals of the tournament carried over the momentum into the first half against the Spartans, taking a 22-22 tie into the final possession of the first half.
With the ball and the clock winding down the Spartans freshman Corrine Morrow hit a 3-pointer right before the buzzer to give the Spartans a 25-22 going into the locker room.
In the third the Spartans came out playing like the team they were for the first 10 games of the season, before Ruel’s injury.
“Both teams played even in hustle in the first half,” said Capitani. “For the third I preached hustle, told them to dive for the loose balls.”
The Spartans extended the lead to nine, 36-27, going into the final quarter.
To start the fourth the Spartans reverted back to how they played in the first half, giving the Mountaineers some life.
Capitani took a timeout with 5:30 left in the game, up 38-30.
“We realized we are the top seed, we needed to play like it,” said Dunn.
Out of the timeout the Spartans put the game away; Ruel would score seven points after the timeout and assisted on the two Dunn layups to seal the deal.
“I think we have more work to do getting back to where we were earlier in the season,” said Capitani.
The Mountaineers were led by Heather Kearns who scored 15 points in the loss.
“I cannot be prouder they came every day and worked hard,” said Hadsell. “We’re not the best team but when we go out there they know Housatonic was there, we leave our mark.”
Lewis Mills will play Thomaston in the BL finals on Friday night at Northwestern, 7 p.m.
The Spartans defeated Thomaston both times the teams played on Dec. 11, 46-42, and on Jan. 14, 45-44.
“Thomaston is the most improved team since the beginning of the season, their underclassmen have stepped up,” said Capitani. “We are going to have two days of hard practice. It’s going to be a fight out there between two good teams.”
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