Pittsfield Boys Win, Taconic Falls at Curry Hicks Cage

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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AMHERST, Mass. -- The Pittsfield boys basketball team showed some versatility.


Taconic showed some heart.


One had a win to show for their efforts at the Curry Hicks Cage on Sunday afternoon.


Pittsfield (2-0) played a little outside its comfort zone but played well enough to earn a 52-43 win over Springfield Central in the third annual Pioneer Valley Tip-Off.


Taconic (1-1) rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to have the ball in its hands with a chance to tie the game in the closing minute before succumbing, 50-46, to Quabbin.


“I thought we had some life with four minutes to go,” Taconic coach Bill Heaphy said. “But trying to sustain that -- to get that to be a full game -- is what the trick’s going to be.


“The last four minutes were really the highlight of our 32-minute game.”


Pittsfield’s highlight reel consisted of a lot of plays from senior Chad Shade, who scored 12 points -- eight in the first half -- and grabbed 12 rebounds.


The Generals led most of that first half but went to the locker room down, 23-22, after a defensive-oriented battle.


Pittsfield coach Steve Ray said his team would have preferred to get up and down the floor, but it was encouraging that the Generals were able to hold their own in a halfcourt game.


“The good news is this year we’ve got some athletes and guys with some basketball IQ,” Ray said. “So what we’re lacking in execution, we’re making up for in athleticism.


“What we’ve recognized this year is we’ve got to take whatever the other team gives us. Last year, it was our way or no way. This year, we think we can be whatever we need to be to get the job done.”


The game was largely decided in a three-and-a-half minute stretch that spanned the third and fourth quarters when Pittsfield’s defense forced four turnovers in 8-0 run.


Shade hit a bucket to give the Generals a 36-33 lead at the end of the third. Then to open the fourth, Anthony Reinhold hit a free throw, Bryce Daley (10 points) set up Connor McDonough for a 3-pointer, and Shade drove the lane and dished to Anthony Jones for a bucket that made it 42-33 with 5 minutes, 50 seconds on the clock.


After breaking a long scoring drought with a Tariq Green 3-pointer, Central traded baskets until the 47-second mark when Pittsfield called timeout with the ball and a 48-43 lead.


Out of the timeout, the Generals ran more than 20 seconds off the clock before Jerry McDonough set up Connor McDonough for a bucket.


Pittsfield got the ball back on a turnover, and Daley knocked down a couple of free throws to provide the final margin.


Points were even harder to come by in Taconic’s battle against Quabbin.


Both teams struggled to find the mark in the first half and went to the locker room tied, 19-19.


The bigger concern for Taconic, though, was the early fouls collected by junior forward Treyvon Ringgold and sophomore point guard Deonte Sandifer.


“I think our youth showed,” Heaphy said. “Some guys’ inexperience showed. We got into foul trouble, which hurt us. The first half, we just couldn’t get anything going, and yet it was tied at half. The defense was decent. I still wasn’t completely happy with it, to be honest with you.


“[Foul trouble] hurt us. When we lose a presence like Treyvon inside, that hurt. And Deonte -- our other point guard is hurt, so we didn’t have him. And when Deonte got in foul trouble, we had guys handling the ball and trying to run offense who really weren’t comfortable doing it.”


Behind 16 points from Reilly Balcom, Taconic was able to stay close most of the way.


But Quabbin opened the fourth with a 5-0 run to open up a 42-32 lead. Taconic recovered and closed to within five when Anthony Whiteley was fouled putting back an offensive rebound and converted one of his free throws with 4:37 left to play.


It stayed a two-possession game until the closing seconds.


Whiteley drove to the basket to make it 48-46, and Taconic fouled with 12.7 ticks left.


Quabbin missed both ends of a two-shot foul, and Whiteley grabbed the defensive rebound. But with no timeouts, Taconic was forced to push the ball upcourt in a hurry, and it was whistled for a traveling violation with 5.7 seconds left on the clock.


Taconic was forced again to foul, and this time, Marco Gabrielli (game-high 23 points) converted both tries from the line to put the game out of reach.


Pittsfield opens its home schedule on Wednesday against Longmeadow. Taconic travels to Mount Greylock on Tuesday.

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