Taconic Dominant in Battle for First Place

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Ceasar Santos brought down the house with a miracle 3-point field goal to beat the buzzer at the end of the first half on Friday night.
But the really big number was the three field goals total that West Springfield made in the first 16 minutes.
Santos’ bomb from the backcourt gave Taconic a 25-11 lead, and the Thunder went on to a 63-33 win and a season-sweep of the Terriers.
West Side had just six more field goals in the second half as it lost for just the second time this winter – both against Taconic.
The win marked the first time Taconic (10-2, 4-1 Suburban North) held an opponent in the 30s this season and the first time the Terriers (13-2, 3-2) have been held in the 30s.
“We played really hard defense,” said Taconic’s Maimoudou Bamba, who had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. “We locked them up and made sure they were not scoring at all.
“A team effort is all we needed to win.”
Thunder coach Bill Heaphy was glad to see his team’s work on the defensive end of the court.
“I was really happy with our defense, the intensity was great,” Heaphy said. “We prepared for this, and the kids executed it. Credit to them.”
Santos finished with a game-high 12 points, and Tayvon Sandifer scored 10 for Taconic, which got at least three points and three rebounds from nine different players.
And those stats did not come in the fourth quarter, which Taconic entered with just a 41-24 lead. They came throughout the night as the Thunder put its depth on full display in a showdown for first place in the league.
“I loved the effort our second group has been giving us, two games in a row, especially, where they’ve really pushed us – not just maintained – they pushed us, and we went above and beyond, which was really good to see,” Heaphy said.
“We’re just building the confidence in those guys, and our first unit can gather themselves, get their feet under them and be ready to go when they’re called upon.”
Bamba was a major factor in the early going, scoring six points in the first quarter to help Taconic take a 12-4 lead on a jumper from the right wing by Christian Maturevich.
The teams traded baskets in another low-scoring quarter in the second before Santos capped things with his 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it a 14-point margin.
Both offenses found their footing a little in the third. West Side made four field goals and scored four more from the foul line, but Taconic kept pace with Santos and Maturevich each scoring five and Steve Patch adding four.
The knockout blow came in the fourth, an 8-2 run to start the quarter and erase all hope for a Terrier comeback.
Bamba got things started, and Sandifer scored the next six, the last bucket in transition to make it 49-26 with 4 minutes, 30 seconds remaining.
Taconic, which has won three games in a row, stays in league play on Monday when it visits Agawam.
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