Drury boys basketball team defends home court, knocks off PHS
NORTH ADAMS — It was a three-game week for the Blue Devils of Drury, and Friday evening at home was the hard-earned cherry on top.
Playing on its home floor for the first time in 2019, Drury was impressive in a 65-47 victory over Berkshire North rival Pittsfield High.
"This was a big game for us. You've got to protect your home court in the North," said Drury coach Jack Racette, after his boys built out a 20 point lead in the third quarter and then never let PHS back within single digits.
Back on Dec. 19, the Blue Devils (9-1, 1-1 Berkshire North) let divisional powerhouse Taconic come to North Adams and dictate things in a 26-point loss. On Friday against the Generals, that wasn't happening.
Max Daugherty keyed things in the early going with high-energy play. He scored six points, grabbed three rebounds and dished out a late assist all in the first quarter, while stars Reece Racette and Scott McGuire got their engines going.
"We've been ready all week. Played strong the first two games and kept the intensity ready and brought it to this game," Daugherty said after finishing with 10 points and nine boards. "This is our home court, got to defend. We came out and showed that."
Pittsfield (7-3, 0-1) started out ice cold, and never warmed up on a frigid January night. With the deep ball not falling — PHS finished without a made 3-pointer — the Generals went to their size advantage.
"I think tonight was really our shooting. We were just off tonight," Pittsfield senior Sam Higuera said. "Mentally, we would've been in a better state, gotten more locked in on defense and worked harder on both ends."
Joe Cracolici notched six points in the opening quarter, and frontcourt partner Donte Cruz finished with a team-high 16 points down low. However, Cracolici picked up his third personal on the first play of the third quarter, and his fourth a couple minutes after that. Pittsfield's top scorer was held off the board for the middle quarters, and in the meantime, Drury ran wild.
With anybody but Cruz on him, McGuire (21 points) was able to carve up the PHS defense and finish with either hand at the rim. He was also a floater defensively and came up with a block on Collin Frinks at the rim that led to a fastbreak basket by Racette (18 points) to put the Blue Devils in front 31-17.
Racette did a bit of everything, including taking two charges during a second quarter that saw an eight-point gap balloon into a 36-21 chasm at halftime.
Intermission did nothing to slow Drury's momentum, as Racette and McGuire fell into the familiar rhythm that has terrorized county defenses the past couple of years.
To open the third, Racette picked a Pittsfield pocket and pegged a pass to McGuire on the perimeter. A drive-and-dish gifted Hunter Sarkis an easy layup for the 18-point advantage.
"That was huge, seeing what we got out of Max there early," said Reece Racette. "I know what he's capable of doing. I wish we could have every single guy out there. Tonight was really about this whole team.
"People call us the two-headed whatever, but when we get other guys contributing like that, it's really tough to stop."
With Cracolici sidelined, the lead hit 20 off another Generals giveaway, which McGuire used to spin a layup with some English on it around Cruz midway through the third.
Each Pittsfield mini-run was met with a momentum-halting bucket the other way. The coach Brandon Mauer's crew cut the lead back to 15 in a hurry, but McGuire knifed through two defenders and rose for a right-handed floater that didn't make a sound on its way through.
The Generals opened the fourth quarter with a nice look inside from Sincere Moorer to Cruz for the and-one, drawing within 48-36. However, Drury finally calibrated its one weakness in the game from the foul line. The Blue Devils finished just 13 of 29 from the stripe, but went 7 of 10 in the final frame.
Kymani Harley put down six straight at the rim for the visitors, drawing the Generals back within 12, but before the official scorer could look up from making the mark, Racette was kissing one of his own off the glass at the other end.
"We've got to close out better, get in and help better. We got beat and the rotations weren't there. Got to tune that up," said Higuera.
Twice out of late-fourth-quarter timeouts, Drury beat Pittsfield down the court for fastbreak layups. Racette lobbed one from the sideline to a galloping McGuire, and then McGuire returned the favor with a baseball pass the length of the court to his full-speed senior teammate for another easy two, as Drury quarterback Obilio Rodriguez looked on with approval.
And here's McGuire returning the Racette favor after another timeout. Blue Devils running Pittsfield 63-47 pic.twitter.com/4xTdul8uuK— Mike Walsh (@CLNS_Walsh) January 12, 2019
Asked about dialing up those clutch baskets, the senior point guard kept things close to the jersey.
"Let's keep that confidential," he said.
After all, the regular season is only half over, the Blue Devils will have to make two return trips to the city of Pittsfield, and there is plenty of work still to be done in the Berkshire North.
Moorer 1-0-2, Johnson 0-0-0, Higuera 0-1-1, Cruz 7-2-16, Jackson 2-2-6, Cracolici 4-3-11, Harley 4-0-8, Matthews 1-1-3, Frinks 0-0-0. Totals 19-9-47.
McGuire 8-4-21, Rodriguez 2-1-5, Racette 6-6-18, Woodson 0-0-0, Massey 0-0-0, Daugherty 5-0-10, Sarkis 2-2-7, Brazeau 2-0-4. Totals 25-13-65.
Pittsfield 11 10 12 14 — 47
Drury 19 17 12 17 — 65
3-point goals — D 2 (McGuire, Sarkis).
Mike Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @CLNS_Walsh on Twitter and 413-496-6240.
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