Abp. Williams 60
Lee 33

WORCESTER — If basketball is a game of inches, it came in the form of height disparity Saturday morning at the DCU Center.

The Archbishop Williams girls used their advantage to dominate the boards — not to mention the scoreboard — in a 60-33 win over Lee (19-6) in the MIAA Division 3 girls’ state championship.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

It is Archies’ first state title since 2008, fourth overall, and last before they move up to Division 1 next season.

“It’s amazing,” said Bishops senior captain Sara Ryan. “Every team wants to accomplish this. To get this far, it’s awesome. I’m going to miss my team so much. They’re like my family now.”

Sophomore Alana Gilmer echoed that sentiment, saying sending out the team’s two seniors — guard Kayla Free and Ryan — on the highest note was what they wanted.

“I can’t imagine school or basketball without her,” Gilmer said of Ryan, who finished with 6 points and opened the scoring with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. “She’s been amazing all year.”

With 6-foot-3-inch sophomore forward Jaylen Williams (14 points), 6-1 junior center Olivia Conrad (2) and 6-0 forward Gilmer (14) in the Bishops’ starting lineup, the victors had no problem handling the Wildcats.

Lee’s tallest player is Stephanie Young, a 5-11 senior forward, but the average height of the team is just over 5-5.

The Bishops (23-5) held Young, the Western Massachusetts Player of the Year, to 3 points.

“You can’t teach height,” said Lee coach Gig Wellington, fresh off coaching his final game before retiring. “[Gilmer and Williams] know where the ball is going. They play together well. The strength of that team is making those cross-court passes. They looked like Nolan Ryan a couple of times. I was amazed at the strength of those girls.”

The Bishops jumped to a 13-0 lead before Lee got on the board with 3:45 left in the first, and they extended that lead to 29-15 by the half.

“It was important that we started out strong,” said Bishops coach Jim Bancroft. “I knew they had six seniors, I knew their coach was retiring. They had that in their back pocket, something extra to work hard for. We didn’t want them to get any momentum from the start.”

The second half featured more of the same and had a bit of an anticlimactic finish.

Archbishop Williams freshman guard Ednaija Lassiter netted 9 of her 11 points in the third quarter.

Lee subbed out its entire starting lineup with about a minute and a half left, and Archbishop Williams played five underclassmen for the last few minutes.

With the contest well in hand, Bancroft put in junior guard Julie Bloomer, limping and donning a knee brace, for the final seconds. Bloomer has missed nearly half the season with a torn ACL.

“She came up to me in practice yesterday,” Bancroft said. “She said, ‘This is going to sound kind of strange, but if there’s any way the game is in control, can you let me inbound the ball and let me get my name, that I did appear in the game?’ ”

Mission accomplished.