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Recap for the game: Pittsfield vs Taconic on Feb 22

Pittsfield Knocks off Taconic in Western Mass Semis

By Stephen Dravis Sports
10:09PM / Thursday, February 22, 2024

PITTSFIELD, Mass. – The Pittsfield boys basketball team Thursday went on a 13-0 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters and held on late for a 54-49 win over Taconic in the Western Massachusetts Class B semi-finals.
The Generals “Big Three” again led the way as Malachi Perry, “Nunu” Brown and Makai Shepardson combined for 40 of the team’s points.
The victory marked the second straight win over the Thunder to go 2-1 in the city rivalry series this season and gave Pittsfield a ninth win in a row.
It also set up an opportunity for the Generals (15-3) to avenge a two-point loss to Monument Mountain. Pittsfield will meet the top-seeded and undefeated Spartans on Saturday evening at the Boys and Girls Club for the Western Mass crown.
At some level, though, Thursday’s game was less about the tournament than it was about the chance to knock off Taconic in its gym.
“We just wanted it more,” Shepardson said after scoring 12 points. “We worked every day – hard practices, three-hour practices. We’re just showing it on the court.”
Shepardson had five steals to help Pittsfield win the turnover battle. It forced Taconic into 20 giveaways, including 10 in the third quarter, when the Generals outscored their hosts, 14-5.
“The whole second half, we weren’t in any sync offensively,” Taconic coach Bill Heaphy said. “Some of that may be due to [Pittsfield]. But we weren’t making good decisions. I thought we turned it over way too many times. And I don’t think we were strong enough with the ball in the paint.”
Offense did not come easily for either team most of the night.
A low-scoring but highly entertaining first half saw the teams go blow-for-blow with neither leading by more than five points – a 7-2 Taconic lead that was quickly erased by a Brown bucket in transition and three points from Perry.
It was a one-point game in favor of Pittsfield at the end of the first quarter and a two-point lead for Taconic at half-time after Christian Maturevich set up Kyle McGrath for a basket in the final minute to make it 24-22.
Maturevich scored 11 points in the first half on his way to a double-double, finishing with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
Pittsfield coach Jerome Edgerton said the Taconic senior co-captain was a focus defensively for his squad.
“He was one of the key components to the team – whether it’s No. 5 [Maturevich], if it's No. 15 [McGrath], if it’s No. 3 [Jamal Sistrunk], you have to target those three boys,” Edgerton said. “He’s tough inside, he rebounds the ball well. They’re big.
“Right from the beginning, he was part of the key scouting report for sure.”
And Edgerton got a leg up in the scouting department from another Berkshire County rival, Wahconah, which earned a 47-41 win over Taconic just two weeks ago.
“I’ll be honest, the game that they played against Wahconah – I saw what Wahconah did to them, I know how Wahconah plays,” Edgerton said. “So, in my head, if we can take Wahconah’s game plan but then mix in who we are as PHS basketball, that’s kind of a little bit what you see.”
Taconic took its last lead on a Maturevich basket in the post to make it 29-27 midway through the third quarter.
Pittsfield then scored the last nine points of the period.
Brown got it started with a deep 3-pointer and ended the run with a bucket in transition with 7 seconds left to make it 36-29, Pittsfield.
The Generals opened the fourth with a steal by Brown that turned into a lay-up by Shepardson and a Prosper Ezan basket assisted by Perry to take the game’s first double-digit lead at 40-29.
Taconic quickly cut that margin back to four with a run that featured a pair of baskets from Martin Boua (14 points, seven rebounds).
Pittsfield stopped the Thunder’s 7-0 run when Shepardson set up Marcello Ariente for a basket, but Taconic again rallied to make it a two-point game with 3 minutes, 14 seconds left on a pair of McGrath free throws.
The Generals then went on a 9-4 run that saw the team go 5-for-6 at the free throw line. In between trips to the foul line, Shepardson drove to the basket and set up Perry for a bucket and drove to the hoop for one of his own.
A defensive rebound by Perry with 12.7 seconds on the clock effectively ended any hope for a Taconic miracle comeback. He was fouled on the play and went to the line, sinking one of two to give his team a seven-point cushion.
Edgerton said the win was a watershed moment for the program he took over last year at his alma mater.
“The last film I watched was in 2022, the last time PHS was in this gym in the Western Mass tournament, and it didn’t go well for us,” Edgerton said, referring to a 65-45 Taconic win. “Playing with that in my head, I told the boys, [Saturday’s] championship game is the last thing on our goal for tonight.
“We haven’t beaten [Taconic] two times in one year in the last 20 years. We haven’t made it to the Western Mass Championship Game since 2014. We haven’t been there. So we were up against 10-plus years of history. I told the boys that, we practiced like that, and here we are.
“We’re moving on.”
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