Basketball: Taconic's Ardrey on doorstep of 1,000 points
PITTSFIELD -- Coach Steve Ray and the Pittsfield boys basketball team are calling today's matchup against city rival Taconic ‘The War on the Floor.'
The title stems from the matchup between the two Pittsfield schools, and as a way to honor the people that battled to provide Pittsfield High School with a new gym floor in the Moynihan Field House.
"The celebration [today] is recognizing the efforts of all the people that worked hard to get that floor there," Ray said. "There's been an active push to replace the floor.
"Everybody was behind this. ... To come up with a couple thousand dollars for a new floor is quite the accomplishment."
In addition to the new floor celebration, the Taconic Braves plan to have a celebration of their own.
Senior guard Shaq Ardrey enters today's game with 992 career points, eight away from the magical 1,000-point mark. The four-year varsity player said it would be a special moment to reach a career milestone in front of his friends and family.
"There's a lot of pressure and a lot of motivation for us because it's Pittsfield vs. Pittsfield," he said. "It feels special. Knowing that it's in my hometown, I'd rather get it here instead of in my last game [at Wahconah]."
Ray added that he'd enjoy seeing Ardrey achieve the milestone after developing a relationship with him as his travel basketball coach.
Pittsfield senior guard/forward Amancho Adopo, however, would like to shut down Taconic's talented guard.
"That's not something we want to see," he said. "As a team, if we do what we need to do, we'll hold him under eight points."
Emotions will be high as the two teams square off, and the game looks to be a strength vs. strength matchup. Both teams look to run and score in transition. The team that can take the other out of its element will be in a strong position to win.
"With the way both teams are playing up to this point, there's definitely a lot of emotion," Taconic coach Bill Heaphy said. "We talked about keeping an even keel. Not too high, not too low, and just keep a strong focus on the game plan and what your individual job is."
Leading scorers Ardrey and Adopo will definitely be featured as part of the other team's game plan. But, look for the role players to play a big part as well. The matchup in the low-post between Taconic's Mike Taylor and Pittsfield's Anthony Jones will be one to watch. When Taylor gets going, it opens up the floor for Ardrey and Kyle Reardon from 3-point range.
Jones will draw the task early, but Ray said it'll be a team effort in stopping Taylor down low.
"Handling Mike will be a significant challenge for us because we're undersized," Ray said. "It creates a double problem because we've got to defend inside, and the perimeter."
If Taconic has the advantage inside, then Pittsfield senior Josh Conant believes the Generals depth will work in their favor as the game goes on.
"We have more guys coming off the bench that can help us," he said. "We're four or five deep, so that can help us keep fresh guys in the game."
One key reserve for the Braves will be forward sophomore Treyvon Ringgold. After Monday's win against Hoosac Valley, Heaphy called Ringgold the team's "X-factor" because of the energy he provides. Ringgold said a fast-paced style fits his game well. Look for him to use his athletic ability to grab rebounds on both ends of the floor for the Braves.
While Taconic said they're taking the underdog approach on the road against Pittsfield, senior Drew Scace feels the team is confident, but not cocky.
In the end, it's a city rivalry with plenty of storylines.
"We're just excited," Heaphy said. "We're excited that it's two city teams that have some good players, and we hope the people in the community come out and see the kind of talent that's at both schools."
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