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Paulo Freire Tops Taconic Boys in State Semi-Final

By Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires Sports - Print
10:41PM / Tuesday, March 15, 2022


DALTON, Mass. – For the first time since 2017, state championship weekend will be missing the Taconic boys basketball team.
 
Bryan Jiminez scored 13 points, and Christian Fontenez grabbed 20 rebounds Tuesday to lead Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter to a 47-45 win over the Thunder in the semi-finals of the Division 5 State Tournament.
 
Paulo Freire moves on to face the winner of Wednesday night’s game between Baystate Academy and Maynard in the state title game.
 
First-seeded Taconic (20-5) made three straight trips to that game – losing to Tech Boston in Division 2 in 2018 and 2019 before being declared D2 co-champion when the tournament ended after the semi-finals in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
On Tuesday, the Panthers used a 10-2 fourth-quarter run to take a seven-point lead with just more than a minute left to play and held off the Thunder down the stretch, allowing just a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Sean Harrigan (game-high 19 points) to make it a one-possession game.
 
Taconic dominated the early stages of the game everywhere but on the scoreboard.
 
The Thunder held Paulo Freire scoreless for the first seven minutes, 25 seconds, but it only had a 9-0 lead to show for it.
 
Sandro Diaz put back a rebound with 35 seconds left in the first quarter to get the Panthers on the board, and three minutes later, it was a one-point game after Jimenez scored in the post to make it 13-12.
 
The game was tied at half-time, and the Panthers held a two-point lead after a back-and-forth third quarter.
 
Taconic took its last lead on a Harrigan triple early in the fourth to make it 34-33.
 
Paulo Freire answered by scoring the next seven, forcing Taconic to take a timeout down 40-34 with 3:13 left to play.
 
After Harrigan drove the lane to get the Thunder back within four points, the Panthers scored three points at the foul line to take a 43-36 lead with 1 minute, 10 seconds remaining.
 
The teams traded free throws to keep the margin at seven points with a half a minute left. That is when Tayvon Sandifer scored in transition to cut the margin to five points.
 
But out of a timeout, Taconic was forced to foul, and D.J. Daniels sank both his free throws to make it 47-40 with 24 seconds left.
 
Harrigan scored the game’s last five points, but the Thunder ran out of time.
 
Sandifer finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. Mo Bamba grabbed nine boards, and Christian Maturevich had 11 despite early foul trouble that ultimately saw him sit down with his fourth foul midway through the third quarter.
 

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