Girls basketball: Lenox secures Franklin County League North title with 48-37 win over Frontier

Frontier’s Hailey Hutkoski ducks below the defense of Mahar’s Alivia Patch (35) and Irati Martinez (25) last week in South Deerfield.

Frontier’s Hailey Hutkoski ducks below the defense of Mahar’s Alivia Patch (35) and Irati Martinez (25) last week in South Deerfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer

Published: 02-05-2024 9:43 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — It was a must-have game for the Frontier girls basketball team against Lenox on Monday to stay in the race for the Franklin County League North title. 

The Millionaires entered the game holding a one-game lead over the Redhawks for first place in the league with two contests to go. 

It was a close game throughout, with Lenox holding a 22-20 lead at the intermission before closing the third quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 32-26 lead after three. 

Frontier cut the deficit to 35-34 midway through the fourth quarter but the Millionaires responded with a 10-0 run, ultimately allowing Lenox to pull away with a 48-37 victory at Goodnow Gymnasium to capture the Franklin County League North crown outright. 

“Great effort,” Redhawks coach Dave Machon said. “Our seniors on the floor — Molly Gates and Hailey Hutkoski — it was great to see them lay their hearts on the line in a big game. It’s a shame their senior night had to be a big game for the league. Hand it to the Lenox players. They’re tough and they can shoot it. I didn’t know if they’d miss early on.” 

It was Hutkoski who caught fire for Frontier (14-3, 8-3) in the fourth, going on a personal 6-0 run to cut the lead to 35-34. From there, it was all Lenox (13-1, 10-1). 

Claire O’Brien swished a 3, Grace Julieano made a jumper on the baseline, Kelsey Kirchiner got inside for two before O’Brien drained another 3, and suddenly the Millionaires held a 45-34 lead late in the fourth. 

Prior to the run the Redhawks had done a good job of holding down a tough Lenox offense. The first time around Frontier suffered a hard fought 28-27 loss in Lenox, but the Millionaire offense was able to find a rhythm when it needed it most on Monday. 

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“There wasn’t a lot of offense,”  Machon said. “It was a defensive battle the first time. They’re a tough team. I have to hand it to them. They’re a tough team to beat. They’re very patient and have a lot of skill players.” 

It was Hutkoski who got the Redhawks going early offensively, scoring Frontier’s opening five points. Lenox was able to hold a 12-8 lead after eight minutes. 

Multiple Frontier players got in on the action in the second quarter. Olivia Machon and Claire Kirkendall each knocked down 3s and added baskets inside while Skyler Steele scored in transition, cutting the Millionaire lead to 22-20 at the half. 

The Redhawks were held to six points in the third quarter — with baskets coming from Hutkoski, Steele and Harper Modestow — though Kirchiner and Julieano sank 3’s to close out the frame to give Lenox a 32-26 lead after three quarters. 

Hutkoski finished the game with 12 points. Machon scored seven points, Kirkendall tallied five points while Steele and Modestow each had four points in the loss. 

While a loss is never the intended result, Dave Machon noted how games like Monday will get his squad ready for the upcoming postseason. 

“We’re preparing every day for the postseason,” Dave Machon said. “Games like this really help us prepare. It’s a hard pill to swallow but it is a great preparation for the postseason.”