Perry, PHS Boys Top Springfield ICS in Opener
PITTSFIELD, Mass. – The Pittsfield boys basketball team’s starting five stormed out to a big early lead in Friday’s season opener.
The Generals’ depth carried them home.
Malachi Perry scored 16 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead Pittsfield to a 71-59 win over Springfield International Charter.
Pittsfield jumped out to a 25-4 lead after one quarter and never trailed after allowing the game’s first points in the opening minute.
But the Bulldogs battled back in the second half, using a 9-0 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters to cut their deficit all the way down to five points with more than five minutes to play.
Pittsfield had enough left in the tank to weather the storm.
“They’re the defending Western Mass champions, they’re the state finalists,” PHS coach Jerome Edgerton said of SICS. “No doubt about it, I don’t care who’s on their team, who’s not, this is what I told the boys: They’re going to come with the pride.
“So we expected them, being down 23, 24 points, to come back with a run. But it’s all about composure, all about our confidence. I thought our bench had some huge moments in there. I thought Cam Zerbato came in and was able to play a solid few minutes – but important minutes, when Marcello [Ariente] was in foul trouble.
“It was just a complete team effort in keeping our confidence and our composure.
With 5 minutes, 18 seconds left in the game, Nunu Brown (13 points) drove the lane for a bucket to snap a nearly three-minute scoring drought for Pittsfield and gave them a 54-47 lead.
The basket ignited a 10-2 run that ended when Perry fed Makai Shepardson (13 points) in transition to make it 62-49 with 3:27 on the clock.
The visitors got back within six with 48 seconds remaining, but Pittsfield scored the game’s last six points to close out the win.
Things could not have opened much better for Pittsfield, which got eight points from Brown and six from Perry in the first quarter.
It also allowed just one field goal, the game’s first from Jay’len Lovedy (16 points), in the first eight minutes of play.
“It’s something that we’ve been harping on, since the beginning of tryouts, becoming a better defensive team,” Edgerton said. “Even though, in the second quarter, they scored, I believe, 23 points, it was just the initial potential we saw on the defensive end that got me excited about this team, for sure.”
Offensively, Briawn Thompson capped the first quarter with a basket in transition assisted by Perry to give Pittsfield a 25-4 lead.
Springfield ICS started whittling away at that margin almost immediately, scoring the first four points of the second quarter and getting within 14, at 41-27, by half-time.
The Bulldogs finally got within single digits with 1:23 left in the third when London Denson (12 points) drove to the basket from the right wing and converted to make it 52-43. That is where it stood after three quarters, and the Bulldogs scored the first four points of the fourth to get within five.
On their next possession, though, Perry drew a charge on the defensive end, and moments later, Brown scored to start that pivotal 10-2 Generals’ run.
It was just one of many big plays by Perry, who also had several assists and a block to go with a couple of steals and his double-double.
“He’s new to our program but his leadership, his energy, his IQ of the game. Really just feeds [to] everything else,” Edgerton said. “Just the energy level. I’m an energetic coach, to have my players, the captains, trickle that down to Mally and the rest of the team, it’s just a beautiful thing for PHS basketball.”
Pittsfield (1-0) goes on the road for the first time on Monday when it visits Chicopee Comp.