Percy Near Perfect as Taconic Earns Berth in State Title Game
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The postgame celebrations and selfies at American International College’s Butova Gym were cut a little short on Wednesday night when a fire alarm punctuated the end of the Taconic boys basketball team’s state semi-final.
“This is all because if Isaac,” quipped Taconic coach Bill Heaphy as the false alarm continued.
Heaphy may not have been too far off the mark. Isaac Percy scorched Central Mass champion Westborough for 39 points as Taconic cruised to an 81-66 win and a second straight berth in the Massachusetts Division 2 State Championship Game.
It will be a rematch with 2018 State Champ Tech Boston on Saturday in Worcester at a site and time to be determined.
Taconic is determined to make sure this year’s season finale goes a little bit differently.
“I had to step my game a little more, and the whole team actually,” Percy said. “We know what it’s like to lose in states last year, and we don’t want to deal with that again.
“We all have to play like we did tonight: hustle hard and win this game on Saturday.”
Percy came through the biggest when his team needed him the most, scoring 21 points in the third quarter to break open what was a five-point game when Quentin Gittens picked up his third and fourth fouls at 4:25 and 4:24 of the quarter.
Percy scored Taconic’s last 13 points of the quarter as it ran its lead to 14, 58-44, going to the fourth and never looked back.
“I knew I needed to step up and ball handle and everything when our point guard was out,” Percy said as the false alarm blared in the background. “I just played my role and did what I had to do.”
Heaphy had no problem letting the junior forward take the reins of the offense.
“I didn’t expect Isaac to do all of that,” Heaphy said. “I’m not surprised. I’ve seen it before. When Quentin went down, you automatically think, ‘We’ve got to get a playmaker, someone who is going to make some plays.’ And Isaac stepped right up. [Christian] Womble gave us something -- he hit that shot in the corner and rebounded a little bit.
“But Isaac was just in a zone, and it was like, ‘Go. Go, Issac. Everyone get out of his way. Until you miss one, I’m OK with it.’ And everyone else was, too.’ “
Percy scored 30 points in Taconic’s Western Mass final win on Saturday and came out with a strong first half on Wednesday in the state semi-finals, scoring 14 to help Taconic take a 32-27 lead into the locker room.
It was again a five-point margin midway through the third when Gittens (11 points, four assists) was whistled twice in quick succession on the defensive end and had to sit with four personal fouls.
Westborough’s Jake Hughes hit one of two foul shots from the fourth Gittens foul to make it 43-38.
Two possessions later, Robert McCown scored in transition to push the lead to seven.
Then Percy took over. First, he got to the line in transition and hit a pair. On the next Taconic possession, he knocked down a 3. Then he took a pass out of the post from Mohammed Sanogo (12 points, 10 rebounds, four blocks, two dunks) and hit another triple.
He knocked down his third 3 in three possessions to push the lead to 56-42 and then ended the quarter with a jumper from the right wing at the buzzer.
Westborough was forced to put Taconic on the line throughout the fourth quarter, and Heaphy’s team hit 12 of its first 13 at the line to maintain its double-digit margin throughout, leading by as many as 18 twice before dancing off with the 15-point win.
Westborough (19-4) stayed in the game early thanks largely to its 3-point shooting. The Rangers knocked down six 3s in the first half, including a pair by Domenic Casparriello, who finished with a team-high 22 points.
“We said we were going to switch, and we didn’t switch quick enough,” Heaphy said of his defense early. “They can shoot the ball. Give Westborough some credit. They can knock shots down. We weren’t as good getting them off the line. We said we said we wanted to run ‘em off the line and run them into Junior [Sanogo] if we could, make them drive into him.
“It didn’t go so well early, and they were making some shots. That’s a good team.”
Taconic will see another one on Saturday. Tech Boston advanced on Tuesday night with a 61-53 win over Belmont in the North-South semi-final at TD Garden in Boston.
“They press everywhere,” Heaphy said of the Eastern champs. “It feels like there’s 10 guys you’re playing against. So we’ve got to work against pressure and just be ready to go.”