Taconic's Isaac Percy Named Western Mass Player of the Year
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Taconic High School senior Isaac Percy Thursday was recognized as the recipient of the 2020 John "Honey" Lahovich Award.
Since 1946, The Lahovich Award has been presented to the most outstanding boys basketball player in Western Massachusetts. John “Honey” Lahovich was a star athlete for Springfield’s Trade High School in the early 1930s who was killed serving in our nation’s military during World War II.
An award historically dominated by athletes from the City of Springfield, the Birthplace of Basketball, Percy joins an impressive list of Western Massachusetts high school basketball legends – and serves as one of the few candidates ever considered from Berkshire County for this recognition.
“It’s an honor to have my name, Taconic High, and the City of Pittsfield, associated with John Lahovich, this award, and the previous recipients of the award, Percy said in a news release from the Pittsfield Public Schools athletic department. “The experiences and success that we’ve had as a team over my four-year career have been awesome.”
Percy graduates as the newest member of Taconic’s 1,000-career point club, with what arguably is the most storied individual career in the history of the Taconic boys basketball program.
As a freshman, Percy was one of only three underclassmen on a 2016-17 Braves team that went 18-4, and advanced to what was the first of Percy’s four consecutive Western Mass Championship game appearances.
The young Percy impressed Coach Bill Heaphy, and the senior-laden squad of teammates, earning minutes on a team of veteran players who had successful careers in their own right.
Percy’s came into his own as a sophomore. Expected to be a “rebuilding year” for the program, following the graduation of 10 seniors from the previous season, Percy and his 2017-18 teammates had different ideas. After opening up the season with only one win in the month of December, they finished out the season with a 17-8 record, and landed in the Western Mass Championship game for the second year in a row. A 44-43 victory over Northampton, at UMASS, in March 2018, resulted in Taconic winning their first Western Mass Boys Basketball title since 1977. A victory in the 2018 State Semi-Finals over Shepherd Hill, then matched Taconic up versus Tech Boston of Dorchester in the 2018 State Championship Game played at Springfield’s MassMutual Center.
Percy and his Braves teammates repeated the feat in 2018-2019. The talented team, with Percy in his junior year, went 20-4 and won their second consecutive Western Mass Championship. Following a 30-point individual effort in the Western Mass title game victory over Chicopee at “The Cage”, Isaac and the Braves played Westboro in the State Semi-Finals at AIC in Springfield. On that March 2019 night at AIC, Percy torched Westboro to the tune of 39 points, in an 81-66 victory over the Central Mass powerhouse.
Percy’s 2019-20 season came with high expectations, but nobody could have predicted how things fell into place. A 20-4 season – which included an 0-2 start, followed by regular season victories over perennial Northeast powerhouses from Boston, Albany, and New Haven – was capped with another Western Mass Championship. Percy, the now veteran team leader, who shared the spotlight on the court with Taconic center, Mohamed Sanogo, pushed Taconic to its third consecutive Western Mass title, another State Semi-Final victory, and another shot at winning that elusive State Championship.
With the COVID-19 virus reaching pandemic proportions in March, and with the health and safety of event participants and spectators as a top priority, all high school tournaments in the country were suddenly suspended, and eventually cancelled, before many state basketball champions could even be decided. As a result, Taconic was crowned the “2020 Massachusetts Boys Basketball Co-State Champions”, along with Whitman-Hanson High School, who were scheduled to be Taconic’s opponents at the Worcester DCU Center on March 14.
“Knowing that I was a part of something special, and making a mark in Western Massachusetts – where Naismith invented the game - is unreal”, said Percy. “It’s a lot to absorb right now.”
Percy joins past Lahovich Award winners such as Springfield’s Leo Best, Nate Blount, Jesse Spinks, Henry Payne, Justin Dalessio, and Will Dawkins. Future NBA players Travis Best and Adam Harrington garnered the Lahovich Award in their high school playing days, while current Brown University Basketball coach Mike Martin Jr, is also a past honoree. Pittsfield High School’s Sedale Jones, who shared the Lahovich Award honors with Holyoke’s Ray Witkos, in 2005, is the only other Berkshire County athlete ever to be recognized by the Lahovich Award committee.
“The way this past season ended, what we’ve experienced the last few months with the pandemic, and missing out on all the traditional activities that are a rites of passage for high school seniors makes it even more unreal," Percy said. “I’m proud of what my teammates and I have accomplished. I’m grateful for the support of my family, and the support our teams got from the community. I also appreciate the coaches, teachers, and staff at Taconic who helped me along the way”.
Percy’s high school coach coach, Bill Heaphy, praised Percy’s worth ethic and career accomplishments.
“Isaac is a deserving recipient of the Lahovich Award. He’s a quiet leader that lets his play do the talking. At times he
made dominating a game, and being a high school kid, look easy - but it’s the work he puts in academically, and
the effort he puts into improving his game, that put him and our team in a position to succeed," Heaphy said.
“Isaac leaves a legacy that few in our area can match."
The 6-foot-3 forward, whose family has long-standing basketball ties to Pittsfield, moved to the city from the Carolinas prior to his freshman year at Taconic.
“Representing Taconic High School, bringing home Western Mass Championships, playing for State Championships, and winning the Lahovich Award, are things that I could have only imagined a few years ago”, said Percy, who is slated to continue his academic and athletic career at the college level in the fall. “My teammates and I worked hard to do things the right way, and it paid off. Those connections, bonds, and experiences at Taconic will stick with us long after this pandemic is over “
When circumstances dictate being able to get back to a sense of normalcy, Percy, along with his teammates and classmates representing the 2019-20 Taconic High School boys and girls basketball co-state championship teams, plan to celebrate together. Members of the Taconic programs have kept in touch and look forward to one day soon, when they can roll through the streets of Pittsfield in a traditional “parade” escorted by first responders, police cars, fire trucks, family, and friends, in celebration of this historic season in which both teams won State