Perry Leads Pittsfield to Final Four

By Stephen Sports
Print Story | Email Story
PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Pittsfield boys basketball coach Jerome Edgerton Thursday challenged his team and one of its stars.
Both rose to the challenge in a big way.
Malachi Perry scored 25 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter, and grabbed 12 rebounds as the Generals earned a 76-65 win over Medfield in the quarter-finals of the Division 3 State Tournament.
Third-seeded Pittsfield (19-5) earned its first trip to the state semi-finals since 1973. Next week, it will face either No. 2 Old Rochester (19-4) or No. 23 Dover-Sherborn (14-8), who play on Friday night in the Elite Eight.
On Thursday night, Perry was truly elite, taking over the game in a fourth quarter that started with Pittsfield holding a slim, 50-49, advantage and ended with his emphatic dunk in the closing seconds.
“I told him, ‘You’re the best player on the court,’ “ Edgerton said. “Nobody can stop you. You’re the best one. Honestly, he likes to get his teammates involved. But at some point, as one of the best players on our team, in our county, in the state, you’ve got to take the game over.
“And he did.”
Patrick Brennan hit five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points, and Makai Shepardson and Nunu Brown added 13 and 12, respectively, as Pittsfield won its 13th straight game.
“This is crazy, man,” said Perry, who also passed out three assists and recorded a couple of blocks. “I never even would have imagined what it would be like going to the Final Four in Boston.”
Early on, it looked like Pittsfield would punch its ticket for the state semis going away.
Two 3-pointers from Brown, one from Brennan and one from Marcello Ariente helped Pittsfield go on top early. And with two minutes left in the first quarter, Perry drove down the lane and scored to give his team a 23-12 lead.
But No. 6 Medfield (18-5) finished the quarter on a 10-2 run, getting five straight points from Peter Kumar (team-high 23) to make it a one-possession game, 25-22, going to the second.
Five more in a row from Kumar late in the second gave the Big Blue a 38-33 lead with about a minute left in the half. But Shepardson drove the right wing and scored, and then he set up Brennan for a 3-pointer to tie it, 38-38, at the break.
A low-scoring third quarter went back and forth but ended with Brennan’s fourth triple of the night to give Pittsfield a 50-49 lead.
“Pat’s been playing that for the whole season,” Edgerton said. “Brilliant at tournament time, he’s just been turning it up another notch. Shooting. Defending. Every game, we play him on the toughest assignments, and between him and Prosper [Ezan], they played really well.
“I’m just super proud of my team. I’m just so proud of the boys. The three of them, Brown, Shep, Mali [Perry], I’m just so proud of them all.”
And it was all hands on deck for the Generals after Shepardson picked up his third and fourth personal fouls in the opening minutes of the third quarter.
“I was concerned, but I also trust our bench,” Edgerton said. “I trust our practice, I trust our development throughout the year. And I just knew that no matter who it is, that they would be ready. And Prosper stepped in, [Briawn] Thompson stepped in. They played big, and we’re going to Boston.”
Perry started the fourth quarter with a steal and a layup. Medfield got that basket back, but a triple from Brennan and a transition basket from Thompson made it a 57-51 lead and forced the visitors to take a quick timeout just 2 minutes, 17 seconds into the quarter.
The Big Blue came back and tied it, 61-61, on a bucket by Rowan Tracey (13 points) midway through the fourth.
But the Generals went on a 15-2 run from there.
First, Shepardson scored in transition following a Perry rebound at the other end to give Pittsfield the lead for good with 3:13 on the clock.
Then Perry and Shepardson scored on back-to-back trips to push the margin to six points, 67-61, with 1:58 remaining.
After Medfield got a bucket from Kumar, Perry scored nine straight points, finishing with the game’s first dunk to delight the home fans and put the finishing touch on a stellar performance.
“It’s always in the fourth quarter we pick it up, we pick it up fast,” Perry said. “But we’ve got to start from the beginning.”
Edgerton was happy to see his star and his team play to their potential – and relieved to see it after what he saw on Wednesday.
“You know why it’s [Perry’s] biggest game? Because it’s the next biggest game,” Edgerton said. “And if you want to be great, you want to be a college athlete, you show up and you prove why you’re a collegiate athlete. And he’s done that.
“And I challenged these boys. Our practice yesterday, I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the crisp practice I would like. So I let those boys know: Right now we’re on the road to losing.
“And those boys said, ‘Nah, not tonight.’ “
Print Story | Email Story