CHESHIRE -- When Taconic High School's Shaquille Ardrey knocked down a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the third
Shaquille Ardrey See more photos here.
quarter on Tuesday night, his night was over.
But the Braves are hoping their season is just getting started.
Ardrey finished with 23 points to lead all scorers in a 59-37 win over Hoosac Valley that wrapped up a piece of the North Division title and propelled Taconic into the Western Massachusetts Division 2 tournament as the winner of five of its last six.
Afterward, the junior guard said that while Taconic has taken care of one of its preseason goals, there is still work to be done.
"We knew what we had to do this year, and we put it all into it," Ardrey said. "Every game we played together as a team and gave 110 percent. And we accomplished what we had to accomplish.
"Now, we're looking forward to the tournament and a state championship, hopefully."
After starting the year 1-4, the Braves have gone 10-4 with one of the losses coming to Mount Greylock, a runaway winner in the South Division and another coming against Division 1 Amherst.
In those two games, Taconic senior guard Trayvon Sims was either limited or unavailable due to injury. On Tuesday night, he showed just how important he is to the Braves with 11 points, five rebounds, two steals and four assists.
Three of those assists came in a 19-point second quarter that featured some of Taconic's best offense of the season. At one point, the Braves scored on eight of 10 possessions. Three of those scores came off Sims' assists: a pair of 3-pointers by Tyler Murphy and a 3 by Ardrey.
"It was good to see," Taconic coach Bill Heaphy said. "We talked a lot about our offensive execution and the lack of in previous games. At this time of year, we talked about valuing each possession and that every possession counted. Make the extra pass and just do what we practice and do it to the best of your ability.
"I thought we did that, and guys were pretty focused and playing what I like to call 'present' -- playing 'present' and not worrying too much about what came before or after."
Trevor Alibozek had team highs with 10 points and seven rebounds for Hoosac Valley (7-12) which lost for the fifth time in six games going into Thursday's finale against Wahconah.
Taconic never trailed after jumping out to a 10-0 lead when Ardrey knocked down his first triple from the top of the key three minutes in. His last 3 -- and last points -- gave Taconic its biggest lead of the night, 53-24, at the end of three quarters.
Unlike some earlier games this year, Taconic was able to hold onto the lead and maintain a working margin. The closest the Hurricanes came was 17-11 when Alibozek hit a 3-pointer early in the second quarter, but Taconic scored the next five and did not look back.
"Pretty much all I said at half-time was play the full 32 minutes," Heaphy said. "Certainly you can't be satisfied. We can never be satisfied. There's still more you can do, and that's the approach we've got to take ... because the next game we play, it could be your last game."
Taconic will learn its next opponent on Friday when the Western Mass tournament pairings are determined.