WORCESTER, Mass. -- After leading his team to back-to-back Division 2 State Championship game appearances, Taconic boys basketball coach Bill Heaphy Saturday had to lead them somewhere none of them wanted to go: through the grieving process for a season that ended with a 69-54 loss to Tech Boston at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
“They’re winners, period,” Heaphy said. “Sometimes you try to get to the top of the mountain and you get knocked down. And you try to go again, and you get knocked down again. That’s life. You’re going to run into a lot of things that happen in your life that are obstacles or challenges, and you’ve got to overcome.
“You might not get the result you like, but what you do is you keep plugging, and you keep working. So we talked [in the locker room] about being disappointed, but we talked about the fact that we gave and effort, and we accomplished something.”
For the second year in a row, it was the Tech Boston Bears dancing off with the top trophy.
Shamar Browder scored 16 points, and Alan Nunez added 15 for Tech, which used a 13-7 run to close the third quarter that opened a double-digit lead the Bears never relinquished.
Isaac Percy scored 17, and Quentin Gittens scored 12 for Taconic (20-4), which lost for the first time since Dec. 14 in a season that saw the program win back-to-back Western Mass titles after winning the school’s first in 41 years in 2018.
“We went from coming out of nowhere last year and getting to a final to being the targeted team, the team with all the expectations and still getting back to the final,” Heaphy said. “That’s not easy to do. We didn’t win. We’re disappointed, but we’re happy with having had the chance.”
Taconic overcame eight first-quarter turnovers to lead, 12-10, after eight minutes of play. Percy hit a 3-pointer on an assist from Gittens late in the quarter to erase a 10-9 Tech lead.
It gave Taconic what ended up being its final lead of the game.
Tech Boston scored the first six points of the second quarter to go ahead by four and led by as many as eight in the quarter before settling for a 30-25 advantage at half-time.
“We never really got into a good rhythm,” Heaphy said. “Partly due to [Tech], give them some credit. We missed a few shots we normally knock down, missed a few lay-ups early, which I didn’t think was because of them. … It was just getting into a flow. We just weren’t into a flow.
“I thought we did a good job limiting their runs. There runs weren’t nearly as bad as they were last year [in a 78-40 loss].”
Tech Boston came out of the locker room with a 12-4 run to open up a 13-point margin with three minutes left in the third quarter.
Taconic (20-4), which had 11 first quarter turnovers, coughed up the ball seven times in the first five minutes of the second half.
“It was a little bit of both,” Heaphy said when asked whether the turnovers were more a matter of Tech’s defense or Taconic’s inefficiency. “We talked about it at half-time. Taking care of the ball was first and foremost.”
After falling behind by 13, Taconic rallied with a 7-2 spurt.
First, Quincy Davis set up Mohammed Sanogo (11 points) in the post. Then the next time down the floor, Sanogo put back and offensive rebound to make it 42-33. After a Tech field goal at the other end, Dedric Moody knocked down a triple off an assist from Gittens to draw Taconic within eight.
But a Taconic turnover led to a conventional three-point play in transition for Tech, and Browder dropped in a teardrop before the buzzer to push the lead back to 13, 49-36.
Taconic graduates six players from the back-to-back sectional titlist squads: Gittens, Davis, Robert McCown, Moody, Jayden Cross and Christian Womble.
Heaphy praised his seniors for their academic and athletic accomplishments.
“They epitomize what a student athlete should be,” Heaphy said. “Leaders, terrific kids. I’m going to miss them terribly, the whole group.”