Jones Scores 18 to Lead Pittsfield Past Drury
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – The Drury boys basketball team faced a big North Division test in its home game against Pittsfield on Friday night. It was the Generals who made the grade, however, controlling the offensive glass in the second half on their way to a 65-51 win at Bucky Bullett Gymnasium.
Pittsfield (11-5) collected six of its 10 offensive rebounds after half-time and took control of the game with a big defensive stand in the third quarter. The Blue Devils (10-5) did a good job of battling to make it a close game at the break but they were held to just seven points in the third frame as the visitors turned a six-point lead into a 12-point cushion heading into the fourth quarter.
“We kind of just got beat off of the boards in the third quarter,” Drury head coach Jack Racette said. “I don’t know how many times they got multiple offensive rebounds for baskets. That was the difference. We can’t get beat on the boards like that against teams. They’re athletic, and we’re small.”
“It was kind of ugly to watch.”
A pretty sight for the Generals’ fans was the play of senior center Anthony Jones, who did most of his damage with 13 of his game-high 18 points in the second half. Jones’ steady play in the paint was too much for the Blue Devils, who were forced to play a lot of the time without center Doug Sigsbury, who got into foul trouble early in the first half, and reserve Kirby Bryce, who missed his second straight game with an ankle injury.
Jones and point guard Jerry McDonough were a problem for Drury’s zone defense in the fourth quarter. After the hosts capped off a 7-2 run with a 3-pointer by senior Nick Trombley (11 points) to start the fourth, Pittsfield answered right back on consecutive lay ins by Jones. McDonough knifed through the zone defense on each occasion and set up Jones where he was able to score the basket and get fouled. He converted the free throw on his second basket, giving the visitors a 12-point lead with five minutes left in the game.
The Blue Devils never got closer than nine points the rest of the way.
“When Jerry gets into the middle, good things happen for us,” Generals head coach Steve Ray said. “That’s really the key for us. When we get a guy in the middle to draw help, we’re able to dump it off to Jonesy, who is pretty good at finishing around the rim there.”
Another key to Pittsfield’s success on Friday was the ability of its zone defense to slow Drury’s offense down. Blue Devils’ leading scorer Justin Girard was held to just four points, while fellow senior Kareen Beckett managed a quiet 10. Overall, the visitors outrebounded the hosts 36-25.
“We’re longer and, defensively, we had a lot of guys in the passing lane, and I think that helped tonight,” Ray said. “We went to that zone you saw just to make sure if they did get by Jerry that they would have nowhere to go.”
The one player for Drury who seemed to find his way through the Generals’ defense was Hayden Bird. The sophomore swingman scored 11 of his team-high 17 points in the first half, helping his squad overcome an early 24-12 deficit. He attacked the basket early on, but the Pittsfield defense started taking away some of those driving lanes as the game went on.
They were there in the first half, however, and the Devils took advantage of an overly aggressive Generals’ defense to get to the foul line 19 times before halftime. Fresh off of a tough loss to Wahconah on Wednesday, Ray said his team might have been a little too anxious early on.
“We’ve been coming out a pretty slow in the past few games, so we hoped to come out [tonight] with a little more energy,” he said. “We did that, but we also got into foul trouble doing it. But we did feel we got better at executing offensively than we did the other night, so we were pleased with that.”
Juniors Connor McDonough and Louis Higuera also helped pace the Pittsfield offense, each hitting a pair of 3s on their way to finishing with 10 points apiece. The Generals next host rival St. Joe’s on Tuesday night.
Drury will face another tough test against Taconic on the same evening, and Racette is hoping his team can get back to establishing the rhythm of the game.
“We’re a slow, methodical-type team,” he said. “Teams that run up and down the floor are going to give us problems. We have to keep the pace where we want it, and we didn’t get it there [tonight].”