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Charlestown Boys Pull Away Late to Top Taconic in Final Four

By Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires Sports - Print
09:08PM / Wednesday, March 13, 2024


WORCESTER, Mass. -- The Charlestown boys basketball team Wednesday used a 10-2 run early in the fourth quarter to break open a back-and-forth game and went on to a 70-57 win over Taconic in the semi-finals of the Division 3 State Tournament.
 
Jaylen Hunter-Coleman scored 21 points to lead the top-seeded Townies (22-2), who advance to Saturday's state title game against No. 2 Old Rochester (21-4).
 
Taconic (17-7) committed three turnovers in the pivotal run and 14 in the second half to help seal its fate as the Thunder, which won a D5 state crown a year ago, fell just short of getting back to the championship game.
 
"We said turnovers were key," Taconic coach Bill Heaphy said. "If we don't turn the ball over, we win. That wasn't the only factor, but that was a big factor.
 
"Yeah, we'd like to have a few of those possessions back in key moments. But it wasn't as a result of kids being timid or afraid. It was the opposite, where we needed to harness it in a little bit. But, you know what, that's how we played all year. You live and die by it.
 
"And I'll take this group with me the next game, too."
 
Jamal Sistrunk led Taconic with 15 points as four players accounted for all the Thunder's points.
 
Christian Maturevich had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Kyle McGrath also had a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards. And Ceasar Santos scored 12 points while passing out nine assists.
 
Sistrunk drove the left wing for a bucket in the first minute of the fourth quarter to cut Taconic's deficit to four at 49-45.
 
But Hunter-Coleman answered at the other end with a 3, and the Townies went on to score the next four points to take their first double-digit lead at 56-45.
 
After a basket by Maturevich snapped that run, Charlestown's Damante Vanheyningen connected from behind the arc to finish the 10-2 run and give his team a 12-point margin.
 
Taconic got back within seven points a couple of times, the last with 2:45 left on a Maturevich bucket in the post.
 
But soon enough, the Thunder needed to start fouling, and the Townies did just enough at the line, going 5-for-11 down the stretch, to push their lead back into double figures.
 
Taconic led by as many as six in the first quarter when Sistrunk scored with an assist from Ceasar Santos in transition to give the Thunder a 16-10 lead.
 
It was one of seven Santos assists in the first half.
 
"He gets into the seams, he gets into the cracks, and he just keeps coming at you," Heaphy said of Santos. No matter what's going on. He's a bulldog. He gave everything he had, and we needed it."
 
But the Townies battled back to get within three, 19-16, going to the second quarter.
 
And Charlestown then took a lead of its own, 26-21, with a 10-2 run that included six points from Hunter-Coleman.
 
Taconic stopped that run with a Maturevich steal at one end and a Sistrunk transition lay-up at the other to start a 9-4 spurt to half-time.
 
Taconic led by two after back-to-back Sistrunk 3-pointers.
 
Charlestown ended the half with a putback from Jaylin Williams Crawford to go into the locker room tied, 30-30.
 
The Townies threatened to pull away midway early in the third when they took a seven-point lead, but Taconic got right back within a point with baskets from Maturevich, Santos and Sistrunk, the last on a feed from Santos with about three minutes left in the quarter to make it 40-39.
 
Tuesday's game marked the final time in a Taconic uniform for four seniors, including Maturevich and Sistrunk, two keys to last year's state title run and this year's Final Four appearance.
 
"They worked their tail off, and they gave everything they had," Heaphy said. "Christian was workmanlike all year. Malie was solid and kind of drove what we became -- he and Christian together.
 
"We're gonna miss them, and hate to have them go out like this. But somebody's got to lose. This is life, too. I feel bad for them, but they gave everything they had."
 

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