Longmeadow Holds Off Pittsfield Girls in Western Mass Semis
AMHERST, Mass. -- After starting the season 3-5 and getting to the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semi-finals, the Pittsfield High School girls basketball team knows something about staging rallies.
So it should not have been surprise when it cut a 16-point half-time deficit in half fewer than two minutes into the third quarter against Longmeadow on Thursday night at Curry Hicks Cage.
Unfortunately for the Generals, that was as close as they could get, as the Lancers held on for a 65-51 win and a berth in Saturday's sectional final against North Middlesex.
Fourth-seeded Pittsfield (14-8) used its full-court press to get eight quick points to start the second half and cut the lead to 35-27, and the Generals got within eight twice more, but top-seeded Longmeadow (17-5) hit five of six foul shots in an 8-2 run down the stretch to put the game away.
"I tell you what, we've been scrapping all year long," Pittsfield coach Joe Racicot said. "You've got to love the effort that the kids put out. They responded, and you can't ask for more.
"We just needed a little of the offensive gods on our side tonight, and we didn't have that."
Pittsfield also did not have size on its side.
Longmeadow's front line of Tajmah'Nae Lewis, Allison Mishol and Emma Robin helped the Lancers build a 54-29 advantage on the glass. Lewis alone had 23 rebounds to go along with a team-high 17 points.
"We want to outrebound every team," Longmeadow coach Terry Britner said. "It's not always where it needs to be, but they work really hard on the boards. And we have to bang the ball down low."
"They're big," Racicot said. "And they're big and wide and strong. We needed everybody to crash the boards. It didn't happen in the first half. In the second half, we started to get some bounces and it started to go our way.
"But we kind of squandered a couple of opportunities with throwing the ball away when we needed to make a basket."
Pittsfield's Peyton Steinman scored a game-high 18 points with three assists. Lauren Carnevale scored 12 with 11 rebounds. Dominique Satrape scored eight and had four second-half steals.
She turned one of those steals into a lay-in with 6 minutes, 12 seconds left in the third quarter to cut the lead to 35-27.
Racicot said that after going to the locker room down double figures it was time to step up the defensive intensity.
"Our bench is a little thin, and we figured we'd try a zone in the first half, and obviously they shot the eyes out of the hoops," he said. "In the second half, that's what we talked about -- coming out hard, mano a mano, taking care of business one on one.
"We needed a little boost off the bench, and it's been hard to come by this year."
Longmeadow built its lead on the strength of a 12-3 run that closed the first quarter and broke open a 7-4 game. Robin scored eight points during that stretch.
Britner said Thursday's game, despite an eerily similar score to Longmeadow's 64-49 win at Pittsfield, had a different feel than the teams' first meeting.
"We got off to a really slow start the last time we played them, and we allowed them, I think, 19 in the first quarter," Britner said. "[On Thursday] we allowed 19 in the first half. We kind of adjusted on their end, switching on some screens so their shooters weren't wide open."