PITTSFIELD, Mass. – It was not a great start for the Taconic boys basketball team in Monday’s Division 5 State Tournament game.
But a great performance by Christian Maturevich helped the team keep its head above water.
And when things started clicking for the rest of the team, Taconic rolled to a 63-44 win over Salem Academy Charter and a trip to the State Quarter-Finals.
Maturevich finished with 20 points, nine rebounds, two assists and a couple of blocked shots. He also took four charges on defense in the first half to provide one of the bright spots in a stretch that saw the visitors take a 24-20 lead into the locker room against No. 1-seeded Taconic.
“I loved Christian Maturevich’s play,” Taconic coach Bill Heaphy said. “For the whole game, he was solid. He did some great things for us when nothing else was working in the first half.
“He was the sole reason we were only down by four. I thought, at half-time, we sort of sorted a few things out … and I thought we came out pretty good. Sam [Sherman] hit a couple of shots. Tayvon [Sandifer] did a few nice things out front stealing balls. And we kind of got our momentum back.”
Sean Harrigan scored in transition after a Sherman steal to start a 7-2 to open the second half and give Taconic a lead at 28-26.
Salem Academy’s Jorbert Peralta (18 points) hit a 3-pointer to regain the lead, but Taconic then went on a 10-0 run and never looked back.
The run featured seven points from Maturevich, including an and-one in transition off an outlet pass from
Taconic led by six at that point, and Sherman’s triple with 1 minute, 45 seconds left in the third gave the hosts the first double-digit lead of the game.
In the fourth, Sherman (11 points) added his third 3-pointer of the game, and Sandifer had a triple and five of his 13 points.
A big part of the second half for Taconic was ball security.
In the first half, Heaphy’s team gave the ball away 11 times. In the second half, it had just five turnovers until the 2:28 mark of the fourth quarter, when the lead was 21 points and the benches were starting to empty.
“We talked a lot about [turnovers at half-time],” Heaphy said. “Valuing the ball has been our focus in practice – as well as charges. We haven’t been a team that’s gotten those all year, and we focused more on it because we’re seeing teams that are getting into gaps and driving a little.
“Christian is that kind of player. He took them all. I don’t know how many he had, but he probably could have had seven or eight. Two or three didn’t get called. But those are big plays.”
Taconic advances to the quarter-finals, where it will play either No. 8 Hopkins Academy or No. 9 Hopedale, who meet on Tuesday in Hadley. That home game for Taconic is tentatively scheduled for Friday evening.