PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Connor McDonough went from potential goat to certain great in the time it took his only field goal of the night to soar through the air and into the hoop.
McDonough hit a 3-pointer with 13 seconds left to give the Pittsfield boys basketball team a 51-48 lead, and the Generals hung on for a 51-49 win over city rival Taconic before a standing-room-only crowd in Moynihan Fieldhouse.
Just moments before, McDonough missed two technical foul shots, either one of which would have snapped a 48-48 tie, with 17.6 seconds on the clock.
But when the senior got a second chance, he made the most of it.
“I didn’t score at all until that shot, and my teammates had confidence in me to take the two foul shots,” McDonough said. “I let them down on that, unfortunately, but they picked me right up. Edwin Rodriguez had a ton of faith in me, giving me that pass.
“My team had a lot of faith in me, even when I didn’t have faith in myself.”
In fairness, the entire team struggled from the foul line — much to the dismay of Pittsfield coach Steve Ray.
“When you go 14-for-34 [at the line], this is the type of game you get,” Ray said. “If we shot our normal 65/70 percent … that’s a different ballgame for us. We had the plan to go at these guys because we wanted to get them in foul trouble.
“Needless to say, the other side of that is you actually have to make them.”
McDonough’s triple helped Pittsfield overcome an eight-point fourth-quarter deficit, win its fourth straight game and hand Taconic (9-2) its first loss since Dec. 13.
Louis Higuera and Anthony Reinhold led the Generals (7-4) with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Higuera, who also grabbed 14 rebounds, scored five points in the fourth-quarter comeback.
Izaiya Mestre (game-high 15) hit a 3-pointer with 6 minutes, 45 seconds left to give Taconic the biggest lead for either team, 40-32, in a game that saw the teams trade leads back and forth all night.
Pittsfield began its comeback, ironically, at the line, where Reinhold hit one of two to make it a seven-point game on the the Generals’ next possession.
That sparked a 13-4 run that included four points from Joshua Moore, a Simon Nassif putback and Higuera’s basket in transition with 1:30 on the clock to give Pittsfield a 45-44 lead, its first since the closing minute of the third quarter.
David McIntosh answered with a bucket to give Taconic a 46-45 edge, and his team went ahead by three points moments later when Treyvon Ringgold hit both ends of a one-and-one.
Reinhold drove the lane to get Pittsfield within a point with 31 seconds left.
On Taconic’s next possession, Higuera was fouled grabbing an defensive rebound, and a Taconic player was assessed a technical foul for arguing the call.
That sent Higuera to the line for two shots. He made one to tie the game.
Next was McDonough, who missed both his shots. But Pittsfield got the ball back off the tech, and that’s when Rodriguez found the 6-foot-2 forward for the game-winner.
“Connor has hit some big shots for us all year, and he has the shooter’s mentality,” Ray said. “The fact that he missed those two [foul shots], he still had confidence in taking that third one, and we were confident in him.”
And the Generals showed in the closing moments that they could keep their wits about them.
“What we talked about before the game was poise under pressure,” Ray said. “We talk about that all the time. We knew it was going to be a tough game. We know they’re arguably the best team in Berkshire County, so we knew were going to have our hands full.
“At the end of the game, the people with the cooler heads were going to be the ones that prevailed. That’s what we had hoped for.”
Pittsfield hosts Hoosac Valley on Monday, when Taconic hosts Monument Mountain.