SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Kobe Parker put back an offensive rebound with just more than a minute to go to put Chicopee on top for good in a 46-44 win over Taconic on Thursday evening at the HoopHall Classic at Springfield College.
Parker scored 11, and Jopaul McKrieth had a game-high 17 for the Pacers, who answered a 5-0 Taconic run by scoring the last three points and thwarted a last-second try for a tying shot to avenge a loss in last year’s Western Massachusetts Division 2 title game.
Isaac Percy scored a game-high 18, and sophomore Sean Harrigan had 10 for Taconic, which got 13 rebounds and seven blocks from Mohammed Sanogo.
Afterward, Sanogo said that Chicopee wanted it more on Thursday night.
“Across the board, they were very physical,” he said. “They were after the ball. They wanted it more than we did. They were playing really hard at both ends of the court.
“We’ve just got to learn from what we do. We’ve got to run our plays better because our timing on screens … we made a lot of mistakes on passes, a lot of turnovers. We just have to make better decisions.”
Taconic coach Bill Heaphy agreed, saying that while the stat sheet mirrored the razor-thin margin on the scoreboard, Taconic’s errors came at critical times.
“It was a tough loss,” Heaphy said. “We didn’t rebound like we should have. Turnovers hurt us in crucial spots.
“The stats say it was even, but when we made mistakes, it was at critical moments.”
Bolstered by Sanogo’s 13 and nine boards by Percy, Taconic had a slight, 37-36 edge in rebounding.
And after committing nine first-half turnovers, Heaphy’s team was a little more efficient in the second half, finishing with 17 turnovers for the game.
And it led most of the second half after Harrigan hit from the baseline to give his team a 27-25 lead early in the third quarter.
Taconic led by five late in the quarter when Harrigan pulled up for a jumper to make it 36-31 with 28 seconds left. He scored nine of his 10 points in the third.
Chicopee took its first lead since midway through the second quarter when McKrieth scored from seven feet to make it 38-37.
And moments later, the Pacers put on a 5-0 spurt to lead, 43-39, with 3:20 left to play.
Taconic rallied to regain the lead.
First, Percy scored in transition. Then, after a Harrigan rebound on the defensive end, Sanogo converted an offensive board to tie it, 43-43.
An offensive rebound by Eric Montgomery extended Taconic’s next possession, and Harrigan got to the line with 1 minute, 45 seconds remaining. He sank the first of his two foul shots to give Taconic its final lead at 44-43.
Chicopee rebounded the second shot and McKrieth grabbed an offensive rebound to extend the ensuing possession, which ended in Parker’s putback to put the Pacers ahead for good.
Taconic got a look at the basket with 44 seconds left, but Damian Ocasio ended up with the rebound. Percy made a steal with 13 seconds on the clock, but Taconic turned it over.
With 5 seconds left, Chicopee’s Tah Bennefield went to the line for a one-and-one. He made the first but missed the second, and Percy got the rebound.
Taconic called timeout with 4.3 on the clock. And after two more timeouts, it tried an inbounds play 94 feet from the basket that Chicopee was able to break up, ending the game.
“What we talked about was our rebounding,” Heaphy said. “We played great defense for a possession or two or three, but then we didn’t get the rebound. So you play defense for 28 seconds, they take a shot, and then they get second-chance points. That hurt us.
“And we turned the ball over in critical moments. We’ve got to get better at that.”
Taconic (8-4) goes to Mount Greylock on Tuesday.