By Stephen Dravis
10:15PM / Friday, February 15, 2013
St. Joe's Michael Carpenter jumps for the shot at Friday's game. The Crusaders fell 63-58 to the Mounties. See more photos here.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — With 29 points, 19 rebounds and three blocks, Mount Greylock Regional High School's Tyler Picard was red hot on Friday night.
But he was also cool enough to make the biggest free throws of a 63-58 win over St. Joseph in Mountie Dome.
The Mounties led by just one, 57-56, with 46 seconds left when Picard was fouled pulling down an offensive rebound.
Before he could shoot his two shots, the Mounties' bench was assessed a technical foul, meaning that after Picard's shots, the Crusaders would get two of their own plus the basketball and a chance to take their first lead of the game.
In other words, these were two points Greylock had to have.
And as he did all night, Picard delivered.
"His free throws down the stretch were huge," Greylock senior Hank Barrett said. "It was just an incredible performance by him, but we've come to expect that from him.
"With no one on the line, that's a lot of pressure. But just — ice in his veins. He knocked them down."
And with Picard leading the way, Mount Greylock knocked St. Joe out for the second time this season, improving to 16-3 with a season sweep of the defending Western Massachusetts Division 3 champions.
After Picard made it a 59-56 game, St. Joe missed its two foul shots, and a Picard block in the post erased the Crusaders' chance to make it a one-point game.
But St. Joe (10-8) got within one moments later when Taverick "Tank" Roberson drove the left wing for two of his team-high 25 points.
Following a Crusader timeout, Nathan Majumder inbounded the ball to Picard, who drew a foul and hit two more foul shots to make it 61-58 with 13 seconds left.
Jon Bianchi's 3-point try rimmed out for St. Joe with 6 on the clock, and Barrett got the rebound, got fouled and made two of his own at the stripe to provide the final margin of victory.
Back in the first half, Mount Greylock threatened to run away with the South Division showdown, leading by as many as 11 thanks largely to Picard's 17 first-half points.
In that first half, the Greylock 6-foot-6 center knocked down a 3-pointer, drove the lane for a bucket and set up Brett McCormack for a basket to make it 26-15 midway through the second quarter.
"I was on today, I feel like," Picard said. "I was feeling it. My shots were falling. I was feeling good. My teammates were getting me the ball. I was just getting good looks."
That was the strategy going in, Mounties coach Bob Thistle said.
"Against a zone, and a good zone like St. Joe's, we felt the zone would collapse on Picard," Thistle said. "And he did a great job tonight, not only scoring. Coach [Dave] Hadley on the bench was calling out 'double.' His teammates were calling out 'double.' And he was able to read that. That's really hard. I was never a big man, but to read and feel the double — he was able to get it out, and that started to open things up for us."
St. Joe rallied in the last four minutes of the half, getting back within four at intermission.
Michael Carpenter scored two in the post and hit a 3-pointer to start a 13-6 run after Greylock's last double-digit lead.
The Crusaders started the third quarter with a 6-1 spurt that featured a Carpenter 3 and a Roberson lay-up in transition to make it 35-34.
But Picard converted a post entry from Tyrell Thomas to spark a 15-7 run that built the lead back to eight points. Barrett came up big during that stretch, setting up Majumder for one triple and knocking down two of his own.
"In the first half, I wasn't hitting, and we were all struggling hitting," Barrett said. "But we were staying in it with good defense. But you know with that team, no lead is safe — anywhere from 2 to 10 points, you know they're going to make a run, and they did.
"Coach just kept telling us, 'Keep shooting.' Coach Hadley sat me down and said, 'Kid, just have fun shooting like you've been shooting your whole life.' And I kind of focused, knocked them down and that felt good."
Barrett's second 3 made it 50-41, but St. Joe scored the next six to get within three early in the fourth quarter. Picard then hit his second 3 of the night, and Barrett converted both ends of a one-and-one to give Greylock its last "comfortable" lead, 55-47.
Bianchi and Matt Begrowicz hit 3s for St. Joe to get within two, and after Thomas drove the left side for a basket to make it 57-53, Roberson knocked down a triple to get the Crusaders within one with 2:50 on the clock and set the stage for Picard's last-minute heroics.
Carpenter finished with 12 points, and Lavante Wiggins had 10 rebounds for St. Joe, which finishes the regular season at Lenox on Tuesday.
Barrett scored 12, and McCormack had seven points and seven rebounds for Mount Greylock, which travels to Monument Mountain on Tuesday.