PITTSFIELD -- The clash of Mount Greylock and St. Joseph's answered one burning question on Friday night: Who presents the tougher defensive challenge?
The Mounties may have proven they're the best team in Berkshire County, too, with the 64-61 victory at the Boys and Girls Club.
"St. Joe's has been the pinnacle of Berkshire County basketball for years now," said Greylock's Nathan Majumder. "All my career, I've been wanting to beat them. I never thought I'd have this chance."
The senior helped make it happen, scoring 15 points as part of a four-headed Mountie monster the Crusaders didn't have an answer for. Teammate Tyrell Thomas had 21 with Tyler Picard scoring 15 and Hank Barrett chipping in with 11. All four knocked down huge shots, helping Greylock (11-2, 7-0 South) tighten its grip on the South Division.
"The problem is when you've got their starting five out there, it's tough to play them man and it's tough to go help because they're so talented," said St. Joe's assistant coach Matt Stracuzzi. "If you help on one, the other kid takes advantage. You have to do a good job of playing good, hard man defense or if you're in a zone, you got to play that area and you got to play it well.
Stracuzzi was in charge of the defending sectional champions on Friday with coach Paul Brindle serving the final game of a two-game suspension. The Crusaders (7-5, 6-3) got 17 points from Tank Roberson, 16 from Mike Carpenter and 11 from Matt Begrowicz.
But the game did not have the up-tempo, transition flow St. Joe's thrives on. Roberson had trouble getting going, making three shots over the first three quarters.
"What [Majumder] forced Roberson to do was to come back to the ball after a miss or a score versus catching it and going," said Mounties coach Bob Thistle. "That was huge. And we thought we did a good job with our zone pressure, not to get turnovers but to contain them, prevent them from turning it into a track meet."
St. Joe's did find some success from the 3-point line, knocking down 10. The Crusaders came at their guests with deep bombs, but Greylock had an answer each time.
First it was Carpenter hitting back-to-back 3s in the third to erase a halftime deficit. Thomas answered with seven straight points.
When Roberson and Begrowicz gave the Crusaders the lead with three 3s early in the fourth, Majumder and Picard hit back-to-back jumpers to get the Mounties on top.
Finally, when St. Joe's was once again within two in the final 90 seconds, Barrett stepped back and knocked down a 3.
"Honestly, I had faith in my team the whole time," Thomas said. "They started hitting a few big shots, but our defense held them off. It's a team effort at all times."
The Crusaders had a last gasp 3 from Begrowicz at the buzzer, but he had to step back on a long pass to get behind the arc and the shot fell short.
Stracuzzi, who was the head coach at St. Joe's in the mid-1990s, said he was still proud of how his team played without Brindle on the bench. Greylock had just enough answers to keep the Crusaders in check.
"Coming off that [win] against Wahconah we were really focused on making a spark today," Roberson said. "It didn't happen. It didn't happen."
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