AMHERST — Allie Hunt didn't have to think long when she was asked about the night teammate Peyton Steinman had that helped boost Pittsfield to its second consecutive Western Massachusetts Division II championship game.
"She's on a different world like every game, but in this one, she was way out in outer space," said Hunt with a huge smile, "just doing crazy basketball things."
The Pittsfield junior had a game-high 33 points, 10 rebounds, five steals and three assists as she orchestrated a second-half comeback and the third-seeded Generals knocked off No. 2 Belchertown 60-56 Tuesday night in a semifinal game at the Curry Hicks Cage.
Steinman had 18 points in the first half as she kept PHS afloat. In the second, she got her teammates more involved and made a nifty pass to Bella Aitken for a basket with 36 seconds left in the third quarter that put the Generals ahead for keeps.
"I don't even have any words," said Steinman, when asked what it meant for her and the Generals to be coming back to the Cage for the Western Mass. final on Saturday. "I'm so excited. It means a lot to me."
Aitken finished with 11 points while Hunt, who was in foul trouble and missed most of the first half, scored eight second-half points to help the Generals.
"[Steinman] created a lot of good things tonight. Just like everyone else, she had her ups and downs," said Pittsfield coach Joe Racicot. "But her ups outweighed her downs by many."
With the win, Pittsfield (18-4) will play Saturday at 6 p.m. against the winner of tonight's semifinal between top-seeded Longmeadow and No. 4 North Middlesex.
"We didn't lose the game. They won," Belchertown coach Jason Woodcock said after leaving the locker room. "There are nights when you say 'We lost the game.' They took it away from us at the end."
Both Woodcock and Racicot agreed on one thing — Tuesday's game was virtually a carbon copy of last year's championship game.
Twelve months ago, Pittsfield jumped out to a quick lead only to have Woodcock call a time out. Eventually, Belchertown's best player took over that night as Tea Spellacy, who graduated in June, finished up with 32 points and 10 rebounds. Tuesday night, it was the junior from Pittsfield who took the game over in a similar circumstance.
"Coach Woodcock was just saying 'You guys did to us what we did to you in our last game,' " the Pittsfield coach said. "I said 'Yeah, but that was the championship.'
"It's great coming back for a second time."
The Orioles scored the game's first nine points before Racicot called time out. Out of the time out, Steinman drained a 3-pointer, and that started a Pittsfield comeback. The Generals tied the game at 11 before Jackie Johnson hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving the Orioles a 14-11 lead.
At halftime, PHS trailed only 27-24. A back-and-forth third quarter went Pittsfield's way in the last minute. Steinman hit a basket with 1:14 left, found Aitken off a pick and roll with Hunt and after a Belchertown turnover, freshman Megan Collins took a 24-foot shot and canned a huge 3-point basket. That 7-0 run gave PHS a 44-41 lead.
"That gave us a big boost," said Steinman of Collilns' shot. "She's a freshman. She came in confident and we were all psyched for her."
The Generals opened the final stanza with five points, including a 3-pointer by Steinman, to go up 49-41. Belchertown's Kayla Henry, who had 16 of her team-high 18 points in the second half, scored six straight for the Orioles, and when Johnson (16 points) hit her fifth trey of the night, it was 51-50 with 4:30 left.
Pittsfield freshman Natasha Shade responded with a basket just inside the arc, and the Orioles got no closer.
For Pittsfield, Britney Perkett did not score, but she pulled down eight rebounds — five in the second half — before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
Steinman 11-6-33, Murphy 0-0-0, Cookis 0-0-0, Perkett 0-0-0, Eline-Wright 1-1-3, Aitken 4-2-11, Quetti 0-0-0, Satrape 0-0-0, Shade 1-0-2, Hunt 3-2-8, Collins 1-0-3. Totals 21-11-60.
Jopson 2-0-4, Henry 8-1-18, Lounder 2-2-6, Johnson 5-1-16, Birkis 0-0-0, McKenzie 6-0-12, McLean 0-0-0, LeBlanc 0-0-0. Totals 23-4-56.
3-point goals — P 7 (Steinman 5, Collins, Aitken). B 6 (Johnson 5, Henry).
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.