City boys hoops bragging rights on the line again tonight for PHS, Taconic
PITTSFIELD -- The first meeting between city rivals Pittsfield and Taconic had a lot of extracurricular events surrounding the game.
Pittsfield was christening its new floor, Taconic's Shaq Ardrey was searching for his 1,000th career point and Pittsfield's Anthony Jones was sitting out the first game of his two-game suspension.
Heading into Monday's 7 p.m. matchup, this game will be strictly about basketball, and being crowned the top team in Pittsfield.
"In the beginning of the [first] game, we were worrying about Shaq and Jones wasn't in, but now we can focus on playing," Pittsfield senior Amancho Adopo said. "It's about competition. Whoever wins this game will have bragging rights."
Taconic coach Bill Heaphy said his team's 71-68 loss last month is still fresh in the players' minds.
"It's your city rival," he said. We remember the last game, and we're excited about getting the opportunity to play them again at our place."
Both North Division powers are securely in the Western Mass. tournament. However, Pittsfield has games remaining which could shake up the final standings.
"We could see [Pittsfield] again in the tournament. But altogether, it'll be a game about personal pride," Heaphy said. "[You're] playing for your school and the name on the front of the jersey."
Taconic showed poise battling on the road until the very end in its first meeting with the Generals.
If not for Pittsfield freshman Bryce Daley's hot-shooting fourth quarter, the Braves might have left Moynihan Field House with a victory.
Taconic's perimeter defense and closing out on jump shots should be a priority. Look for Charles Davis, along with Deonte Sandifer, to try and contain the Generals' shooters and limit penetration.
A matchup that did not take place in the first meeting that could be key in deciding the outcome of the game will be between Jones and Taconic big man Mike Taylor.
Getting Taylor the ball early was something Heaphy said he missed an opportunity to do in the Braves' first meeting with Pittsfield.
Post buckets from Taylor early will open up the floor for Taconic shooters and create driving lanes to the basket. Expect a mix of Chad Shade and Jones to attempt to limit Taylor.
The newest member of the Berkshire County 1,000-point club, Adopo -- along with Ardrey -- will factor heavily in both team's game plans. However, expect other starters and role players to factor in as well.
Daley showed he was not intimidated by the big stage of a city rivalry game. Who will set up for the Braves in key situations? Ardrey scored 32 in the teams' first meeting. Topping that is a lot to ask any player.
For Pittsfield, a win against Taconic will give them confidence heading into the postseason, as they look to advance past the first round of the Western Mass. tournament.
The Braves will be celebrating Senior Night before Monday's game, but Heaphy said he's getting his team focused on the what's happening on the floor.
"Those things are important; milestones are nice," he said. "But I think all of us want to have a chance to play the game, and let it hang out on the court."
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