McDonough, Reinhold Lead Pittsfield Boys to Western Mass Final
AMHERST, Mass. -- The Pittsfield High boys basketball team has talent, speed and savvy.
But in a game like Thursday's Western Mass Division 2 semi-final, it was all about guts.
And the Generals had that too in a 50-49 win over Shepherd Hill to advance to Saturday's sectional final against Tantasqua.
"It's just basically a gut check, time to reach down," Pittsfield coach Steve Ray said of Pittsfield's defensive stand in the fourth quarter. "We told them to give everything you have because there's no tomorrow here."
The fifth-seeded Generals (15-7) faced their biggest deficit of a back-and-forth game early in the fourth quarter when Shepherd Hill's Michael Rapoza (14 points, 16 rebounds) scored in the post to make it 42-37.
But from there, Pittsfield went on a 10-1 run to lead, 47-43, with less than a minute to play.
"We were man most of the game, and toward the end, it was [a zone], and they were a little confused, I think, at first," said Pittsfield senior Connor McDonough, who scored a game-high 17. "And we had so much intensity from Kolby Muzzy and all the players. It paid off. We got some steals, some turnovers. The work paid off at the offensive end."
McDonough's fifth 3-pointer of the game -- and fourth of the second half -- gave PHS the lead it would not relinquish, 45-43. Reinhold (11 points, four assists) set up McDonough in the right-wing corner for the triple to erase Shepherd Hill's last lead.
After a McDonough defensive rebound at the other end, Louis Higuera (nine points) found Reinhold along the baseline on a sideline inbounds play, and Reinhold got to the basket to make it 47-43.
"It is a huge play," Ray said. "What it is is a back pick and Reinhold goes to the rack. He can jump, so it's an alley-oop. It might be there once or twice a season on the alley-oop. Tonight it was almost there. He gave them a little fake, thank God, and got that. That was a big play for us. We always give that our first look, and then we have a couple of other looks off that. It's a play we've had all year. Just picked a good time to be open."
Shepherd Hill answered immediately with a 3-pointer with 21 seconds left.
After three straight fouls, Reinhold went to the line for a one-and-one. He made the first but missed the second. Joshua Moore made his first big play of the closing seconds, grabbing the offensive rebound to get the ball back for PHS.
McDonough was then fouled with 16 seconds left. He hit both ends of the one-and-one to make it 50-46.
Again, Shepherd Hill answered with a 3-pointer, This time with 4.2 seconds left. Pittsfield's Reinhold was fouled immediately on the inbound and stepped up for the one-and-one.
His first shot rimmed out, but Moore battled for the rebound to keep the clock running without a clean possession for Shepherd Hill. The clock ran out, and PHS ran off to start getting ready for Saturday.
Moore finished with 10 points and three steals to go with five points. Simon Nassif came off the bench to grab seven rebounds.
Pittsfield jumped out to an early 12-7 lead, but that was the biggest margin either team could build until the fourth quarter. Shepherd Hill ended up taking a two-point lead, 21-19, into the locker room.
McDonough hit a triple from the right wing to start a third quarter that saw the lead change hands seven times.
It was tied, 34-34, going to the fourth, but Shepherd Hill used a couple of conventional three-point plays in an 8-3 spurt to open the final quarter.
Pittsfield was the third Berkshire County team to knock off a No. 1 seed in the Western Mass tournaments. Mount Greylock's girls did it first, beating South Hadley in the quarter-finals. Hoosac Valley's boys did it on Wednesday in the semis against Sabis.
On Saturday, the Generals will face their second straight Central Mass opponent as they go for a Western Mass title. Tantasqua (19-2) eliminated Longmeadow in Thursday's first semi-final.
"They look like another tough team," Ray said. "I'm not sure what we're going to do with [John] Howland. He looks like the real deal. The whole team. They have a lot of talent. They've got size. They've got athleticism. We've got our work cut out for us, and we don't have much time to prepare. That makes it a little tough."