Taconic Tops Hoosac in OT

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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PITTSFIELD -- It took 36 minutes, but the Taconic High School boys basketball team finally built a lead that Hoosac Valley could not overcome.

Trayvon Sims knocked down two 3-pointers in overtime, and Shaquille Ardrey scored a game-high 27 to lead Taconic to a 65-60 win over the Hurricanes on Friday night.

Sims scored just five points in regulation but drained two 3s in the span of a minute to give Taconic (5-5) a six-point cushion with 1 minute, 50 seconds left in the extra session. Ardrey then scored the next five points -- three at the foul line to send the home fans home happy.

At last.

Many fans actually started heading for the exit with 2:40 left in regulation when Sims hit a shot from the elbow to put Taconic up, 52-43. But Hoosac (3-7) stormed back, scoring the last nine points of regulation and nearly winning the game with no time left on the clock.

Hoosac junior Trevor Alibozek scored three straight times on his way to a team-high 22 points to spark the last minute comeback.

First, he converted a feed from Matt Braman at the elbow. With 39 seconds left, Alibozek put back an offensive rebound to make it 52-47. After Taconic failed to beat the five-second count on the ensuing inbounds play, Sean Ryan-Kut fed Alibozek for a 3-pointer to make it 52-50.

Alibozek fouled Sims at half-court with 22.1 on the clock, and the Taconic senior missed the front end of a one-and-one. The rebound went off Taconic's Drew Scace (13 rebounds) and out of bounds to give the Hurricanes a chance to tie or take the lead.

Braman (14 points) drove the baseline on the right wing and hit a circus shot with two ticks left, but Hoosac got the ball back when Taconic was called for traveling with a second on the clock.

Braman's inbound pass found Alibozek at the foul line, and he immediately drew a foul from Sims as time expired. The Hurricanes argued vehemently that their 6-0 center was shooting, but after a long consultation, the referees awarded him a one-and-one opportunity.

After a couple of timeouts made the wait even longer, a much colder Alibozek stepped to the line and hit the front of the rim, setting the stage for Sims' and Ardrey's overtime heroics.

"We were very fortunate to get to overtime," Taconic coach Bill Heaphy said. "I give the credit to the guys and my assistant coaches because they really kept the guys fired up at that point because we really got a break in terms of being able to go to overtime.

"Once we got into overtime, I think being home and knowing that we dodged a bullet -- the kids responded and made some plays, made some shots. We got a lead and then kind of kept the pressure on defensively and made them work for everything.

"But they didn't go away."

After going scoreless for the first couple of minutes of overtime, Hoosac scored eight points in the next two minutes -- four by senior Andrew Milesi (eight points, 12 rebounds). But it was not enough to overcome the draining final moments of regulation.

"It deflated us, obviously," Hoosac coach Bill Robinson said. "It gave Taconic another life. Taconic was done, and they played it well. He called all three timeouts to freeze (Alibozek), and it worked.

"It's deflating. That's a good word for it. We came back so hard and had an opportunity at the end."

Hoosac trailed 16-10 in the first quarter but came back to take a 24-21 lead into half-time thanks to stellar team defense and five second-quarter points by Braman.

The Hurricanes were ahead by two going to the fourth before Ardrey hit a couple of 3s, one from NBA range, to put Taconic ahead, 45-41. A Tyler Murphy 3 gave Taconic its biggest lead of the night, 50-41. The teams then traded baskets before Alibozek took over down the stretch.

"He played hard," Robinson said. "He's taking it hard right now because he missed that foul shot. He had a chance to put it over the top and win the game, and he didn't make it. But otherwise, he played a good game -- offensively and defensively, he played well. He hit the boards."

Robinson said the loss could be a backbreaker for Hoosac in terms of the North Division standings, but perhaps the Hurricanes can build on it. Just a week ago, Robinson was questioning his team's heart after a loss to Pittsfield. On Friday night, the Hurricanes showed nothing but heart.

"Yeah, they showed a little oomph there," Robinson said. "We were able to hang in there, went to the basket well and got some good stuff."

Heaphy also is hoping a roller-coaster win could be a turning point in an uneven season.

"Any time we play a Northern Division team like Hoosac, it's a big game," Heaphy said. "We've been up-and-down, and we're trying to be more consistent. Hopefully we can keep on that path. We've got a lot to work on and improve on, but we're certainly happy with how it turned out.

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