Belchertown Uses Fourth-Quarter Run to Upset Pittsfield Girls
AMHERST, Mass. -- The Pittsfield High girls basketball team survived a third quarter in which it scored just three points.
But it could not weather a 9-0 Belchertown fourth-quarter run that propelled the Orioles to a 54-43 win in the championship game of the Western Massachusetts Division 2 tournament.
Tea Spellacey scored 32 points, and Cara McKenzie grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Belchertown to its first girls basketball sectional title.
The Orioles overcame a dry spell that saw neither team connect from the field for a nearly eight-minute stretch that spanned the second and third quarters.
Emma Jopson broke that stretch for Belchertown with a jumper from the baseline on the left wing to give her team a 27-26 lead with 1 minute, 38 seconds left in the third.
"It seemed like both teams were feeling each other out and decided not to play basketball but just stare each other down or something," Pittsfield coach Joe Racicot said.
"I had never seen a quarter like that, ever, and I've been doing this a long time."
After Jopson's bucket put the Orioles on top, Pittsfield's Peyton Steinman was fouled in the post and hit both shots to give the Generals a one-point lead.
But it turned out to be their last.
Belchertown (15-8) scored three straight to end the third, and after the teams traded scores to start the final frame, the Orioles built the biggest lead of the night for either team with the decisive 9-0 spurt.
Kayla Henry got things started with a 3-pointer to give the O's a 39-35 lead. Then Pittsfield turned over the ball on three of its next four possessions as Spellacy drove for two from the right wing, Henry scored in transition, and Speallacy converted two from the foul line to make it 45-35 with 2:58 to go.
PHS (19-4) rallied from there with an 8-2 run, fueled by seven points and a steal by Steinman (17 points). She converted a one-and-one with 1:05 on the clock to make it a 47-43 game.
But Belchertown held Pittsfield scoreless, and Spellacey went seven-for-eight at the line down the stretch to put the game away.
"Once they got the lead, that's right up their alley," Racicot said. "They give her the ball she can slow it up, speed it down, do whatever she needs to do.
"We tried doubling her so she had to give up the ball, but she ended up getting it back."
Pittsfield opened the game with baskets on its first four possessions to take an 8-0 lead. But Henry (10 points) and Spellacey hit 3s to help erase that margin on three straight trips.
From there, neither team led by four than four points as they matched each other shot for shot until half-time.
PHS erased a 24-21 deficit late in the second quarter with baskets in the paint from Bella Aitken and Allie Hunt to take a 25-24 lead into the locker room.
Hunt ended up with 13 rebounds, and Trinity Cookis scored 10 points for the Generals, who saw a five-game winning streak come to an end.
Cookis, Daria Brown and Lauren Carnevale played their last games in a Pittsfield basketball uniform, but most of the Generals return next winter for Racicot.
"They have great experience," Racicot said. "It's good for them to play here at the Cage. They know the highs, and they know the lows, and I think it's going to benefit us big time."