PITTSFIELD >> Pittsfield's Connor McDonough went from the possible goat to the eventual hero in a matter of seconds against rival Taconic on Friday. With the game tied at 48 with 17.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Pittsfield coach Steve Ray selected McDonough to shoot two technical free throws. The senior forward missed both shots, but Pittsfield kept possession due Treyvon Ringgold's technical. Out of the inbounds play, Edwin Rodriguez found McDonough on the left wing for the winning 3-pointer with 13 seconds left, sending the Generals to a 51-49 win.
"I didn't score at all until that shot," McDonough said of his winning trey. "My teammates had confidence in me to shot the two foul shots. I left them down on that unfortunately, but they picked me right up. ... My team had a lot of faith in me even when I didn't have faith in myself."
McDonough's late heroics was the last of three lead changes in the fourth quarter.
Taconic's Izaiyah Mestre hit a 3-pointer early in the fourth to cap a 7-0 Braves run, which put the team up eight over the Generals. Pittsfield slowly picked away at the deficit, however, as Josh Moore made a driving layup to bring the Generals within one with under two minutes remaining in the game. Louis Higuera followed with a transition layup off a Taconic turnover, giving Pittsfield (6-5) its first lead since early in the third. David McIntosh's layup and two free throws from Ringgold then put Taconic back up three. Pittsfield's Anthony Reinhold then made a layup, followed by a split pair of free throws from Higuera, to set the stage for McDonough's winner.
Mestre had an opportunity to tie at the buzzer, but his shot missed.
"Our guys did a great job in spite of all the distractions," Taconic coach Bill Heaphy said. "We had a chance to tie the game at the end. We talked about it all week, we knew the crowd would be like this and we knew the type of effort Pittsfield would put out there.
"Our theme going into the game was poise under pressure. ... The fact that we still gave ourselves a chance to tie the game in the closing second shows that our guys never quit." The game ended with several whistles and free throws, and the first half was filled with the same. The teams combined for 50 free throw attempts. Taconic made nine of 16, while Pittsfield struggled to the tune of 14 of 34. The high number of fouls led to foul trouble on both sides,
Moore picked up his second foul with 6:15 left in the first quarter. He didn't return until the second half. Rodriguez and Reinhold did a god job of filling in for Moore, combining for 19 points. Taconic's Deonte Sandifer also spent significant time on the bench in the second half due to foul trouble. He had 10 points. Mestre had a team-high 15 points.
The loss snaps Taconic's (9-2) eight-game winning streak.
Despite the win, Ray said his team's poor shooting from the line hindered the offense's output.
"If we shot our normal 65-75 percent — that's a different ball game for us." Ray said. "We had the plan to go at these guys because we wanted to get them in foul trouble. ... Needless to say, the other side is you've actually got to make [free throws]."
Cotto 1-0-2, Sandifer 4-2-10, Mestre 5-3-15, Stracuzzi 0-1-1, Walker 1-0-2, Cooney 0-0-0, Whiteley 1-0-2, Murphy 0-0-0, Reardon 1-0-2, Ringgold 3-3-9, McIntosh 3-0-6. Totals: 19-9-49.
Reinhold 5-1-11, McDonough 1-0-3, Moore 3-1-7, Higuera 3-4-12, Muzzy 0-3-3, Rodriguez 2-3-8, Nassif 2-2-7. Totals 16-14-51
3-point goals — T 2 (Meste 2). P 5 (Higuera 2, McDonough, Rodriguez, Nassif).