AMHERST, Mass. -- Even for one of the most decorated boys basketball players at Taconic High School, winning never gets old.
"It feels great every time," Isaac Percy said after scoring 16 points to lead his team to its third straight Western Massachusetts Division 2 title with a 63-52 win over Chicopee on Saturday night.
"Every time we win, it gets better and better. A three-peat now, that's amazing."
Taconic broke open a tight game with a 9-0 run in the third quarter and led by as many as 14 points.
But it never really was able to shake the top-seeded Pacers, who got within six points with three minutes left in the fourth and were down by just six with a minute left before Taconic converted two one-and-ones down the stretch to put the game away.
Mohammed Sanogo scored 18 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked four shots, and Eric Montgomery and Bo Bramer added 13 and eight points, respectively for third-seeded Taconc (19-4), which will play the Central Mass champion this week in the state semi-finals in search of a third straight state title game appearance.
Saturday's win came in a rematch of last yaer's sectional final. More recently, Chicopee earned a two-point
regular season win over Taconic earlier this season.
Percy said the experience from the latter game came in handy.
"They're a really good team," he said. "We did lose to them earlier this year. I know they really wanted this after losing to us last year in the Western Mass championship. But we knew what we needed to do to stop them.
"We came out ready to play after losing to them that one time. We knew what we needed to fix and what we needed to do right. And we attacked the middle more, and it helped towards the end."
Taconic came out on fire in the first quarter, jumping out to a 14-2 lead when Montgomery finished in the post midway through the quarter.
But Chicopee fired right back with a 14-0 run of its own, scoring on six straight possessions to take a two-point lead.
The second quarter was more back-and-forth, with Taconic surviving with a one-point lead, 28-27.
It was still a five-point margin midway through the third when Taconic scored nine straight.
Bramer got things started when he drove the lane to make it 40-33.
Percy was fouled in the post two possessions later and made both his foul shots. The next time down, he scored a bucket. Finally, he hit Montgomery with a crosscourt pass, and his fellow senior drained a 3-pointer to make it 47-33.
Taconic coach Bill Heaphy said his team did a better job of getting the ball inside for offensive touches in the second half.
"We were focused on getting the ball inside ... not just getting it to Junior [Sanogo] but Isaac [Percy] and Eric [Montgomery], a couple of times, who was huge for us. He got us off to that great start and then continued to be a factor throughout the game.
"I thought Bo [Bramer] and Sean [Harrigan] were solid at the guard spot. Isaac was Isaac. Junior was Junior. In terms of [Sanogo's] overall product, baseline to baseline, he was tough."
A Sanogo dunk midway through the fourth pushed the lead to 53-41, but Chicopee continued to hang around, scoring six straight to make it a two-possession game.
In the final minute, Sean Harrigan (nine points) and Bramer combined to go 4-for-4 from the foul line to put the game away.
Defensively, Taconic limited Chicopee to just five points over the last 2 minutes, 10 seconds.
"We just knew we had to come out and hustle more, be more aggressive on defense, and we knew we could get the stops if we really tried," Percy said.