PITTSFIELD -- The Taconic boys basketball team used its size inside to control the boards, leading to second-chance points and a 82-68 win over Pittsfield on Monday night to split the season series for the city rivals and give Taconic the North Division title.
"We win the North, and that was what we were playing for," Taconic coach Bill Heaphy said. "We got a share of the city title, and that was two of our goals heading into the year. Now we wait for our seeding and see what happens."
Western Mass. postseason brackets will be determined Saturday.
The game looked as if it would be a shootout early.
Taconic's Charles Davis and Shaq Ardrey scored all but five points in a first quarter, which Ardrey capped with a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give the Braves a 25-17 lead.
The first quarter featured a lot of perimeter shooting. For Taconic however, the rest of the game would be won down low.
Rebounds by Mike Taylor, Drew Scace and Davis led to second-chance points as the Generals struggled with Taconic's size.
On the perimeter, the Taconic defenders to a good job on closing out on Pittsfied's shooting, limiting them to just three 3-pointers. Bryce Daley, the hero of the first matchup, was held to just two points.
With Anthony Jones back in the lineup, Pittsfield had a big body to put on Taylor. But, when the double team came, Taylor did a good job of finding the open man, or making a move before the second defender could get there.
"It's a real tough job," Pittsfield's Chad Shade said on guarding Taylor in the post. "He uses his size to his advantage, makes good moves in the paint and finishes well."
One possession early in the second half illustrated Pittsfield's struggles in the paint.
Taylor received the ball on the left block, and spun for a layup plus the foul.
After Taylor missed the free throw, Taconic grabbed the offensive rebound and missed multiple putback attempts before the ball was kicked out to Deonte Sandifer for a 3-pointer along the left baseline. The three put Taconic up 18.
"[Second-chance points] is what killed us in the first game," Heaphy said. "Those are momentum killers when you can get a second-chance shot; a kick back out or run an offense. It's debilitating."
After a layup by Scace, the Braves took their largest lead of the night with a little more than six minutes left in the third quarter.
The Generals would respond with a 16-2 run of their own, starting with a Jones layup and being capped off by back-to-back layups from Amancho Adopo. Adopo scored 23 points. Scott Steinman had 17.
Pittsfield got within eight points of Taconic with less than four minutes to play in the third, but Taylor would go back to work for the Braves.
Taylor scored consecutive baskets for the Braves, and in the final seconds of the quarter, an Ardrey steal led to a Taylor transition layup. Ardrey led all scorers with 26. Taylor scored 18 points, and said he's always willing to do the dirty work down low.
"[Rebounding] is always part of our game plan," Taylor said. "That's what we have to do."
"Coming into the second half we knew they were going to focus on me," Ardrey added. "But we knew we have an inside-outside game with me and Mike. We kept dishing it to the inside to Mike, and we knew he could get us buckets."
With the game in hand for the Braves, Pittsfield's Adopo put on a special display of athleticism for the Taconic fans.
He scored eight of the team's last 13 points, including a monster one-handed slam in the lane off one dribble.
For seniors like Ardrey, playing in his final regular season game, it meant a lot to go out with a win.
"It feels good, but it's kind of sad a little bit. We had a good crowd here and I like that feeling.
"[Winning] means a lot, and there's a lot of motivation for us going into the tournament," he said.
To reach Akeem Glaspie:
or (413) 496-6252.
On Twitter: @THEAkeemGlaspie.