Phillips, Cross Lead Taconic to Narrow Win over Pittsfield

By Stephen Sports
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Taconic seniors Ahliya Phillips and Faith Cross stepped up in a big way on their hometown’s biggest stage on Tuesday night.
Phillips scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Cross had a double-double with 14 and 11 as Taconic outlasted Pittsfield, 49-45, at the Boys and Girls Club.
The Generals, who lost by 14 at Taconic back in the season opener, were more than ready for the rematch, leading by as many as 13 in the first quarter.
But the reigning state champions from the other side of town answered with a 10-0 run.
Phillips was a major factor in the run that spanned the first and second quarters.
She scored three straight times in transition, the last time getting to the line and knocking down a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to three at 15-12 with 5 minutes, 42 seconds left in the first half.
She went on to score 11 points in the second quarter, which ended with Pittsfield ahead by just two, 22-20.
“She was a beast,” Taconic coach Matt Mickle said of Phillips. “She’s a senior leader. These last couple of games she’s really showed up. She just took over the game, and I was proud of her. I just told her that.
“Sometimes she gets frustrated with the lack of focus on our team. But tonight, I thought she was laser-focused, and she was playing hard the whole night.”
Phillips said Taconic needed to regroup after a first quarter where it committed 10 turnovers to help dig it a hole.
“The last couple of games, we definitely started out kind of slow,” Phillips said. “We needed to come back out and get our legs back under us. Once we go into half-time and talk and get together as a team, we kind of know what we have to do.
“And we come back out and bring that energy, and we’re just able to do it.”
Cross took over in a Taconic run to start the third quarter.
She got things going when she converted a feed from Phillips in the post, and she scored three more buckets in a 15-4 run that ended with Alex Hudson’s transition basket from Phillips to give Taconic a 35-26 lead late in the third.
Pittsfield (3-4) refused to go away.
The Generals opened the fourth quarter with eight straight points to get within one when Dezerea Powell hit a free throw midway through the period to make it 39-38.
Phillips and Cross took turns scoring for Taconic to build the lead back to seven with 2:15 left to play.
But Jamie Duquette (15 points, 12 rebounds) answered with a pair of baskets and a free throw in a 7-2 Pittsfield run to make it a one-possession game with 1:08 left on the clock.
Unfortunately for the Generals, her free throw to make it 47-45 was the last point Taconic allowed.
At the other end, Taconic did just enough, converting two of five chances from the line in the final minute, to hold Pittsfield at bay. It did not help the Generals’ cause that they needed needed to foul three times in the final minute just to get Taconic into the bonus.
Pittsfield will look to snap a two-game skid on Friday when it goes to Minnechaug. Taconic (4-2) is at West Springfield next Tuesday.
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