SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- After a two-week absence from the hardwood, the Taconic boys basketball team came back with a vengeance on Wednesday night.
But first it had to comeback from an initial surge by upset-minded Northampton at Western New England University in the semi-finals of the Western Massachusetts Division 2 tournament.
Behind three players in double figures, top-seeded Taconic (18-3) did just that, erasing a 9-2 deficit to earn a 60-39 win and a date on Saturday night in Curry Hicks Cage against No. 2 Chicopee (14-7).
Isaac Percy and Robert McCown each scored 13, and Mohammed Sanogo added 11 as Taconic won its 17th straight game and its first since the regular season finale at Hoosac Valley -- way back on Feb.20.
“I was worried about [rust],” Taconic coach Bill Heaphy said. “We had a few scrimmages, but that’s not the same as a game. And two weeks is two weeks. It’s a long time.
“So I was worried about. But you’ve got to play. You’ve got to get out there and get that rust off, and hopefully it’s sooner than later.”
The Blue Devils (10-11) took advantage of whatever rust may have remained by jumping out to a seven-point lead midway through the first quarter. But Taconic held Hamp to just eight points the rest of the first half, building a 33-17 lead and never looking back.
“I thought some of it was just energy,” Heaphy said of the first-quarter. “There wasn’t enough urgency, so that’s what we talked about.
“And, actually, I was kind of glad, because we haven’t had a lot of adversity. It was nice to find ourselves down by whatever it was. How were we going to respond?”
Taconic responded by going on an 11-0 run to end the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Sanogo scored six points to help give his team a 16-point half-time lead.
It stayed that way most of the second half. Northampton only was able to get to within 15 points on a couple of occasions but never could make a serious run.
Quentin Gittens scored eight points, and Christian Womble added six on a pair of 3-pointers for Taconic, which on Saturday at UMass-Amherst will look to defend its 2018 Western Massachusetts title against Chicopee, which has not hung a banner since its 1994 Western Mass D1 title.
“I’ve seen them a few times,” said Heaphy, who watched the Pacers knock off Longmeadow, 66-62, in Wednesday’s opener. “They’re tough. They were clutch down the stretch with some good free throws that they made. They’re athletic.
“It’s going to be a tough matchup.”