PITTSFIELD -- Points were hard to come by early for both the Mount Greylock and Taconic girls basketball teams on Thursday night.
The Mounties found their touch for a few minutes in the third quarter to cut the Braves' lead to two, but Taconic made key baskets and was sound late to pull away for a 49-37 victory.
"These guys put together a good game tonight, four good quarters," Taconic coach Matt Mickle said. "Played good team defense."
It was far different than the 32-point pounding the Braves gave the Mounties just two weeks ago.
Greylock's early 4-0 lead quickly turned into a deficit it tried to erase the rest of the night. The Mounties finally made it a one-possession game on Arianna Walden's free throw with 3:01 left in the third quarter. The basket completed a stretch of six straight points for the sophomore. She finished with 10 points.
Taconic's Angela O'Neil answered with a 3-pointer a few possessions later and Shalee Conyers (eight points) hit a buzzer-beating three to push Taconic's lead to eight with a quarter to play.
"Angela knocked down some big shots, the shots I expect her to make. Tonight, she made them," Mickle said. "She hit the big shots."
That lead quickly grew in the fourth, with Nyanna Slaughter (15 points) registering the first five points. That gave Taconic a comfortable lead at a time when points were scarce.
The teams combined for only 12 points in the first 6:37 of the fourth quarter. It was the final basket in that low-scoring stretch, a 3-pointer from O'Neil (16 points, four 3-pointers), that pushed Taconic's lead back to double digits. That made Greylock's comeback attempt even more daunting.
"A lot of people consider us a shooting team better than driving," O'Neil said. "But not only do we take threes, but we always look for our power play with Nyanna and [Brianna Rogers] down low because there's not many people bigger than us out there."
Greylock coach Paul Barrett said Taconic's perimeter pressure created problems for his offense, which contributed to its scoring woes. That was part of Mickle's game plan. He credited O'Neil for her play defending Lucy Barrett (16 points).
"Barrett can hit them from NBA range. You saw the [buzzer-beater] at halftime, [and] that one at the end of the game. You almost feel like the farther back she goes, the better shot she has at it," Mickle said. "Angela knows she's got to get up and guard her, and the girls all know they got to play help-defense if she puts the ball on the floor. I thought, we did a good job with that tonight."
Neither team could establish much rhythm throughout the game. The first half was plagued by turnovers, many of which stemmed from a pace of play neither was comfortable with. Both found ways to settle and slow the game down in the second half, but Taconic converted more chances.
"I definitely think that when we get up the court, we were rushing things and more frantic than we needed to be," Lucy Barrett said. "We need to have more confidence in our passes and our shots."
For Taconic, it was a nice bounce back from a tough 46-40 loss to Lenox on Monday. Mickle said his team struggled moving off the ball and moving the ball around against the Millionaires.
"I do think our offense looked better tonight. The ball was moving, the girls were moving, and that's a big deal," he said. "We talked about swinging the basketball and getting the defense to move, and, I thought, they did a good job of that tonight."
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