Pittsfield girls get second shot at Longmeadow, this time for Western Mass. title


PITTSFIELD >> It isn't all that often that a basketball team gets a second chance at a regular-season, non-league foe. But that's exactly what the Pittsfield girls get to do this afternoon.

The Generals will be playing for a Western Massachusetts Division II championship against a Longmeadow team that they've already played, and has already beaten them.

"I'm hoping it's going to be a lot different, and if someone's up by 20, I hope it's us," Pittsfield's Peyton Steinman said. "I think we've grown a lot more since then and gotten a lot better as a team."

Top-seeded Longmeadow (20-1) will play No. 3 Pittsfield (18-4) in the fifth game of six at the Curry Hicks Cage on the UMass-Amherst campus. The tip-off is scheduled for 5:45.

The Generals and Lancers met in the Hoophall Tournament back on Jan. 14, and the Lancers beat Pittsfield 63-40. Kayla Mokwuah had a triple-double for the Lancers with a game-high 24 points, 26 rebounds and 14 blocked shots.

"I remember a lot of missed shots, poor defense and there was no boxing out and rebounding against [Mokwuah]," said Steinman. "There was a lot of frustration."

Pittsfield head coach Joe Racicot said that it can be good to get a team a second time.

"What I like about it is that you can adjust from your mistakes that you made the first time you played them — if you lost to them," Racicot said Friday afternoon before his team took to the Moynihan Field House floor for one final practice before heading for the Cage.

"If you beat them, then you're wondering what they've got planned for you," Racicot said with a smile.

Which leads to the obvious question: What does Pittsfield have in store for Mokwuah and the Lancers?

The PHS coach wouldn't exactly say, but he has watched the tape of the Hoophall game several times.

"Let's just say I watched it many times, but most of the time I watched that second quarter," he said.

The second quarter might have been the worst eight minutes the Pittsfield girls played all season. The Generals trailed 15-12 after the first quarter, but Longmeadow outscored PHS 19-2. That kind of quarter can't happen again if the Generals want to win their first Western Mass. girls hoop title since 2002.

The Generals reached the final after beating No. 2 Belchertown 60-54, in a rematch of last year's title game. Steinman had 33 points and 10 rebounds to pace the Generals. Longmeadow beat No. 4 North Middlesex 44-34.

"It's definitely a good thing, because it's kind of like payback," said Pittsfield's Bella Aitken. "We're going to try our hardest to win. Losing by 24 isn't the best thing.

"But we're coming back strong."

Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.


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