SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Northampton sophomore Amanda Mieczkowski was a thorn in the side of the Pittsfield girls basketball team on Monday night as she led the top-seeded Blue Devils to a 53-44 win in the semi-finals of the Western Massachusetts Division 2 tournament at Western New England University.
Mieczkowski scored 17 points at one end of the floor and held 1,000-point scorer Bella Aitken to just five points through three quarters at the other as Northampton improved to 18-4 and earned its second win of the year over the Generals.
“She’s a good all-around player,” Pittsfield coach Joe Racicot said. “We were hoping we could get a few more open looks, but that didn’t happen.”
Northampton, coming off two weeks off thanks to its bye in the first round of the seven-team D2 bracket, managed just seven points in the first quarter, and PIttsfield took advantage, leading by as many as five before settling for an 11-7 lead after eight minutes.
Taea Bramer snapped a 4-4 tie with a 3-pointer, and Aitken drove the baseline for a pair before Sydney Lewandowski scored for the Blue Devils. Jordyn Lummus drove the right wing for a bucket to make it 11-6, Pittsfield, with 20 seconds left in the quarter. But a Mieczkowski free throw cut the Generals’ lead to four.
It was all Northampton in the second quarter as Mieczkowski scored eight points, and the Blue Devils outscored Pittsfield, 13-3 to take control of the game.
“They did a good job getting her open,” Racicot said. “We were trying something different in the beginning. In the second quarter, that kind of got old. And half-time we went to straight man, and things kind of leveled off a little.
“But we didn’t shoot that well. We rushed a lot of shots. Unfortunately, we started shooting well when we called our last three timeouts [in the fourth quarter].”
Northampton led by as many as 12 on a couple of occasions in the second half.
It was 47-35 with 1 minute, 18 seconds on the clock after Aitken (10 points) knocked down a 3-pointer.
Northampton missed two front-ends of one-and-ones over the next 40 seconds, while the Generals got buckets from Natasha Shade and Bramer (14 points) to draw within seven, 49-42.
But Northampton went 4-for-4 at the line in the last 30 seconds, and only a bucket by Alexis Garvey (seven points, 12 rebounds) was all the offense Pittsfield could muster.
Seniors Clair Babbott-Bryan and Emma Tanner scored nine and eight, respectively for the Blue Devils, but it was the 10th grader Mieczkowski who made the difference.
“She did a good job,” Racicot said. “That’s what we just talked about: This is the same team you’re going to have to face in other years.
“The thing is, remember these moments and when you get a chance to go to the gym, shoot some baskets.”