PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Everyone who crammed into Pittsfield High's gymnasium on Friday knew it was going to be a grand night.
They had no idea how grand.
Pittsfield freshman Bryce Daley knocked down a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left on the clock to give the Generals a 71-68 win over Taconic in the feature game of the "War on the Floor."
As expected, Taconic's Shaquille Ardrey scored his 1,000th career point, reaching the milestone with a 3-pointer midway through the first quarter.
But that turned out to be the least dramatic moment of the night.
The rest of the contest -- and especially the second half -- featured wild swings with two of the best teams in Western Massachusetts matching each other blow for blow until Ardrey, who finished with 32 points, just missed a chance to send it to overtime with a 3 that rimmed out at the buzzer.
"It doesn't get much better than that for a high school basketball game, does it?" Pittsfield coach Steve Ray said.
And it doesn't get much better for a freshman in the the county's game of the year than the performance Daley turned in.
Besides directing Pittsfield's offense, the guard scored a team-high 22 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter alone.
He also calmly called for the ball on the right side with the game on the line and drained the biggest shot of his young high school career.
"[Amancho Adopo] goes on a drive, but they all collapse, so they kicked it to me," Daley said. "I just went for the win.
"It feels great. Wonderful time."
As big as the 3 was, it was not the only big shot he hit in crunch time, and Ray was quick to give the youngster all the credit he was due.
"We had shooters spotted, up, had Adopo crash and said to Daley, 'We need it,' and he came up big," Ray said. "That whole last quarter, he had, I don't know, 16, so that's huge. We're obviously blessed to have a freshman like that.
"Not only does he contribute as a point guard ... but what we like about him -- you saw that gym going crazy, and he stepped up and knocked down two free throws. He was the calmest guy in the gym."
If he was, he was the only calm one.
The already fevered pitch of the city rivalry was heightened by several factors before tipoff: the fact that both teams came in vying for supremacy in the North Division and a high seed in the Western Mass tournament, the fact that Ardrey walked in needing just eight points to reach 1,000, the pregame ceremony to celebrate the new hardwood floor at Pittsfield High, the fact that the bleachers were packed and people were standing three and four deep on the baseline.
The fact that the second half featured seven ties and no lead bigger than six points made for an electric atmosphere in the closing minutes.
Taconic (11-5) led most of the night. Ardrey's 1,000th point gave his team an early 12-2 lead, but Pittsfield charged back to get within one when Adopo set up Chad Shade for a bucket with 1 minute, 26 seconds left in the first quarter to make it 14-13.
From there, Taconic briefly went ahead by as many as eight in the second quarter but settled for a 32-28 margin at half-time.
Pittsfield (13-1) stormed out of the gates to start the second half, taking a 39-38 lead when Daley fed Alex Weber for a triple with 5:50 left in the third.
But Taconic retook the lead and got ahead by as many as six at the end of third when Drew Scace scored in transition to make it 54-48.
Adopo (17 points) hit a 3 and put back an offensive rebounds on consecutive possessions to tie it, 56-56, but Taconic pulled back ahead, 62-57, when Mike Taylor put back an offensive rebound midway through the quarter.
Moments later, Daley hit his free throws to get the lead to one, 62-61, as Pittsfield went on a 9-0 run that ended with a Daley triple with just less than 2 minutes left to make it 66-62.
Ardrey hit 3s on back-to-back trips to give Taconic a 68-66, but Shade put back a rebound for Pittsfield with 39 seconds on the clock to tie it.
Taconic had a chance to go ahead with a pair of foul shots with 28 seconds left but could not retake the lead, setting the stage for Daley's heroics.
Taconic travels to face Drury on Monday. Pittsfield continues play in the city series that night with a date against St. Joseph.