PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield High School’s girls basketball team advanced to the next round of the Western Massachusetts Division 2 playoffs after the Generals freshman guard Peyton Steinman led the team in their charge past the Belchertown Orioles, 57-42, on Thursday night.
"I feel pretty good," Steinman said. "I just wanted to go out and do my best because I knew we needed to win this game. I’ve been wanting this for awhile."
The freshman played well beyond her years, contributing 19 points and five assists during the game. Steinman also shot three 3-pointers.
The game promised to be one of the best early matches during the playoffs as well as a classic match between two highly skilled players: Pittsfield’s Steinman and Belchertown’s junior guard Tia Spellacy. With Spellacy scoring 20 points, including two 3-pointers, the crowd at Pittsfield High did not walk away disappointed.
During regular season Spellacy averaged 17.1 points per game, and Steinman scored 15.2 points per night.
Despite Spellacy's brilliant ball handling and efforts, the Generals opened up an 18-6 lead in the first quarter. Thanks to their passing game, peripheral shooting, and defense Pittsfield held at least a 10-point lead most of the game.
Pittsfield junior forward Lauren Carnevelle contributed 18 points and 15 rebounds, while classmate Trinity Kookis a junior shot three 3-pointers and had 11 points in all. With a 3-pointer from Alice Thomasson, one of the Generals' three seniors, Pittsfield had a combined seven 3-pointers in all, proving they can shoot from a distance.
Belchertown came in from the half looking fired up as Spellacy and teammate Jillian Cavanaugh a senior forward dominated the court. Late in the third quarter, Pittsfield forward Daria Brown stepped up the defense and was able to shut down Spelling. The Generals dominated the game after that. They began the fourth quarter with a 16-point lead.
Although the Orioles got within 46-33 early in the fourth, Pittsfield kept climbing ahead by using better fundamentals and defense.
"I feel relieved," said Pittsfield head coach Joe Racicot after the game. "I woke up at about four o'clock this morning, had a panic attack just making sure we covered everything. It all worked out for the best. It’s just a matter of trying to keep the team grounded and having them play the way they know how to play."
The fourth-seeded Generals move on to play No. 1 Longmeadow in the Western Mass Division 2 semifinals nest Wednesday at Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst.
"They beat us here, so we got a good look at them. We know what adjustments to make," Racicot said. "They’re a good team they’re athletic. I think the start of the game should tell the whole story of the scoreboard."