PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Taconic boys basketball team clinched a berth in the Final Four of the Division 5 State tournament after a 74-57 win over Sutton on Friday night.
It’s almost to the point where a final four appearance for the Taconic Thunder is expected with the recent success the program has had. This year, it is led by Tayvon Sandifer, who scored a game-high 26 points in Friday’s quarter-final. Jarmal Sistrunk added 15 points, including seven in the first quarter that really set the tone for Taconic going forward.
“Jarmal played with a lot of confidence and got us into a lot of stuff today,” Taconic coach Bill Heaphy said. “He was looking for his shot, and it looked good, he made some shots and got guys into their spots, he did a nice job.”
This extra offense helped Taconic get into its full court pressure, which was really the difference maker in the game. Taconic sped things up with the pressure and Sutton struggled to get the game under control.
The full court pressure not only allowed Taconic to read passes and get out in transition, but it also kept Sutton out of the half court offense where they were comfortable slowing the game down and running sets. The main source of offense for Sutton came from inside the post which was negated with active hands and constant pressure on the guards.
Taconic took a 15-9 lead after the first quarter and then really started to turn things up in the second. It came out on a 7-0 run to start the second quarter and Sutton had no options but to burn an early timeout. Both of these teams went back and forth for the remainder of the half and the Thunder was able to take a double-digit lead into the break.
Second half action saw Sutton finally claw back into this game getting the game within as little as five points, but just like all game Taconic was ready and had an answer for the nice Sutton run. After getting the game within a couple of possessions Taconic used an 8-0 run to widen this gap.
Just before the end of the third quarter Ceasar Santos knocked down a deep three at the buzzer while getting fouled in the process. He would knock down the free throw and push the Taconic lead to 14 points.
“We lost some guys in transition and came out slower than we wanted in the third quarter which allowed them back in the game,” Heaphy said. “We got active feet and hands without fouling, Christian gets his hands on a ton of balls and causes a lot of loose balls, Cesar did a great job defensively and then knocks down that buzzer beater three with the and one which was a big momentum swing.”
A momentum swing it was as Taconic took control from that point on and never let Sutton get any chance of a comeback.
Top-seeded Taconic (21-3) now will take on the defending state champions, Maynard for a spot in this year's championship game on Monday at 6 p.m. at Springfield's High School of Science and Technology
a date and in a venue to be announced. Maynard (15-7) advanced to the state semi-finals on Friday with a 45-32 win over Pioneer Valley.