Bird Leads Drury Boys to Gene Wein Tournament Win

By Stephen Sports
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- After giving up 18 points in the first quarter of Tuesday’s Gene Wein Holiday Tournament Championship Game, the Drury boys basketball team knew it had to get its own offense in gear -- if it wanted to do the same for its defense.
And the Blue Devils did both -- outscoring Mount Greylock, 54-32 the rest of the way to earn a 65-50 win and the tournament title.
“We knew we had to start knocking down our shots so we could get into our press and start making chaos all over the court,” Drury senior Hayden Bird said. “That’s what we try to breed -- so they couldn’t get the ball to [Sean] McCormack down low because he’ll kill you.”
Instead, it was Bird who was the killer on Tuesday, scoring 30 points and grabbing 13 rebounds to help Drury go to 4-0 on the season.
Bird was one of the bright spots for Drury in the first eight minutes, scoring seven points while the Mounties (2-3) built an 18-11 lead.
But the Blue Devils knew they had to do a better job of converting on the offensive end.
“When you make shots, you can pressure,” Drury coach Jack Racette said. “In the first quarter, we missed a lot of easy shots, so we couldn’t get into our pressure. … We missed some early, and once we started making them and could get our pressure going, we got the game going exactly where we wanted it.
“We made a couple of little adjustments at half-time, talking about how we’ve got to get [Bird] the ball in different spots. The game’s going fast, and he gets that open look -- once he gets going, I think he went on a stretch there where he hit six or seven in a row.”
Drury went to the third quarter tied, 33-33, and neither team was able to find the mark for more than three minutes of the second half.
Finally, Reece Racette (22 points) hit a free throw to start a third quarter that Bird quickly took over. He scored the next nine for Drury to help his team take a one-point lead, 43-42, into the fourth.
It was still a one-point game with about six minutes left to play when Drury went on a decisive 12-0 run.
Thaylen Harrison got things started with a free throw to make it 47-45. Then he hit a 3-pointer from the corner on the right wing to give Drury its biggest lead of the night. Racette then followed his own miss and converted while being fouled; the conventional three-point play pushed the lead to 53-45.
Bird then hit from the baseline on the left side and drilled a triple off a Racette assist to give Drury a 58-45 lead with about three minutes left.
After Brady Foehl scored to get the Mounties back to within 11, Drury scored five more in a row -- all at the line -- to go ahead by 16 with just less than a minute to play.
Mount Greylock got 17 points from Sam Dils and 16 from Sean McCormack. The latter was hampered by foul trouble. After scoring five in that first quarter, McCormack drew his third foul with more than two minutes left in the second quarter.
“We wanted to get McCormack in foul trouble quick because we don’t have a lot of big people,” Bird said. “So getting him out early is pretty nice. It definitely helped us a lot.”
Bird was named the tournament MVP for his performances over the last two nights, and he was joined by Racette on the all-tournament team, along with McCormack, Mount Everett's Cavan Brady and Duggan Academy's Tyvoun Alston-Person.
Drury looks to stay unbeaten on Thursday when it meets St. Joseph at the Boys & Girls Club in Pittsfield.
Mount Greylock is off until Jan. 2 when it goes back to Bucky Bullett Gymnasium to take on the Blue Devils.
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