NORTH ADAMS, Mass -- Drury junior Hayden Bird scored 28 points and hit two clutch free throws to lead the Blue Devils to a 51-48 boys basketball win over rival Hoosac Valley Tuesday night.
Bird set the tone early, scoring the team's first seven points to give the Blue Devils an early 7-2 lead. He finished the first half with 14 points and scored 14 out of the team's 20 second half points to give the Blue Devils their 10th win on the season, qualifying them for postseason play. Despite the scoring, staying mentally tough was the key to pulling out a win.
With Drury clinging to a 49-47 lead with 12.5 seconds left, Bird headed to the line trying to ice it for the Devils. He missed both free throws giving Hoosac a chance to tie or take the lead. Hoosac secured the rebound and guard Keagan McGrath pushed the ball up the floor, finding Jameson Coughlan under the hoop looking to tie the game. Before he could lay it in, Drury forward Connor Clark hustled back and fouled Coughlan, sending him to the line for two shots. Coughlan made the first but missed the second, setting up the biggest rebound of the game.
Drury just needed one player to secure the rebound and go make two free throws. That person happened to be Bird, who did not let his two previous missed free throws get in his head. Despite being on the other side of the lane he secured the rebound and got fouled. With 4.6 seconds left he stepped back up to the line and calmly made both free throws.
“Coach talks about shooting free throws in practice under that exact same scenario.“ Bird said. “I missed the first two but I was mentally tough to make the next two.”
A last-second 3-pointer for Hoosac missed the mark, and Drury earned a season split with its rival.
For Drury (10-8), Cristian Montoya scored eight points and Reece Racette chipped in with seven, but it was Drury’s five first half 3-pointers that helped give the Blue Devils a 31-19 lead at halftime. Two of those five came in the second quarter from Montoya.
“I made a few turnovers at the beginning of the game,” Montoya said. “My teammates told me to keep shooting the ball. My favorite spot is the corner spot and I hit two 3s from there. My teammates had faith in me so I kept shooting.”
For Hoosac (11-7), Matt Koperniak scored 14 points and Coughlan added 11. It is just the third time the Hurricans have lost in their last 11 games after opening the season 2-4.
After a Coughlan basket made it 2-2 to start the game, Bird hit a jumper to put Drury up 4-2. That was a lead they would not relinquish for the rest of the game. Drury led 14-8 after the first quarter and pushed that lead up to 12 by halftime.
Hoosac came out hot in the third quarter as Koperniak scored nine of his 14 points, but Bird answered, scoring 10 of his own, including a putback at the end of the quarter giving Drury a 45-36 lead heading into the fourth. But, as is the case in the Drury-Hoosac rivalry, no lead is safe.
All night long Hoosac pressured Drury, and all night long Drury broke it. After a Coughlan layup with 3:26 left to play cut the lead to 49-43, the press finally wore Drury out.
It started with a 10-second violation. Then a Drury turnover with 3:02 left led to an Avery Hall layup, cutting the Drury lead to 49-45. One possession later, with 2:03 left to play Coughlan was fouled and headed to the line for a 1-and-1. He made both to cut the lead to 49-47. After another Drury turnover with 1:38 left to play, Hoosac had its first chance to tie it but turned the ball over with 1:26 left to play.
With 46.5 second left, Hoosac got its second chance to tie or take the lead but missed a turn around jumper in the lane, giving the ball back to Drury. Hoosac decided not to foul, allowing Drury to use clock. Hoosac got what they wanted as Connor Clark misfired on a baseline jumper, but the ball went out of bounds off the Hurricanes. Hoosac was forced to foul Bird, setting the stage for the dramatic closing seconds.
“We talked about it, but I was worried about Coughlan getting the second shot opportunity so we just let it play out, they are big and physical," Drury head coach Jack Racette said. “You look at our size, we’re not big, so we stuck with just playing straight up defense. They got a pretty decent look too. We got a little lucky, it's nice to get lucky once and a while.”
Both teams play Friday night as Drury welcomes Wahconah and Hoosac will host Taconic.