Taconic Wins on Night Wahconah Honors Ed Ladley

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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DALTON, Mass. -- Robert McCown had a big night and hit the biggest shot of the night for the Taconic boys basketball team in Friday’s 62-46 win over Wahconah.
Wahconah had rallied from a 22-point third-quarter deficit to draw within nine at 50-41 when Tom O’Connor scored in transition with three minutes left to play.
Taconic came up empty on its next possession, but it got the ball back on an Isaac Percy rebound.
At the other end, Quentin Gittens set up McCown for a 3-pointer in the left-wing corner, and he drained his only triple of the game to stop a 10-2 Wahconah run.
After the teams traded points for a minute and a half, Taconic (12-3) closed on an 8-0 spurt of its own, capped by a Mohammed Sanogo dunk, to win their 11th straight.
Gittens tied for game-high honors with 17 points, and Sanogo pulled down 10 rebounds to go with eight points and four blocks. McCown’s 12 points upped his season average to 7.33 points per game.
“He’s been struggling a little bit,” Taconic coach Bill Heaphy said of the senior. “We were talking prior to the game, and he said he was going to play well. I said, ‘I hope so.’
“He got some rebounds, got some drives. He was good defensively, I thought. Pretty active, as were some others. The whole team played well.”
Taconic did it in front of a standing-room-only and partisan crowd on a night when Wahconah honored coaching legend Ed Ladley, who passed away last year. Ladley, who led Wahconah to a state championship and five Western Mass titles, remained very connected to Dalton program long after he stepped aside as head coach.
The pregame ceremony, which was highlighted by an emotional speech from current coach and former Ladley assistant Dustin Belcher, featured the school’s boys and girls varsity programs, youth players aspiring to wear Wahconah’s blue and graduates who played for Ladley.
Once the game got underway, Taconic rebounded from its lowest point total of the season in a 44-27 win over Pittsfield, and it did it largely by generating second chance opportunities.
“With their length, they play good aggressive zone,” Heaphy said of Wahconah. “I thought Mohammed was a factor inside. I thought Quentin did a great job penetrating. … We needed to get some offensive activity on the glass, and we did.”
Wahconah coach Dustin Belcher agreed that rebounding was a big factor as his team saw a five-game winning streak come to an end.
“We didn’t do a very good job on the boards,” Belcher said. “And that’s something we talked about being a key for us tonight. We had to block out. We had to rebound the basketball. And we didn’t do that very well.”
Taconic jumped out to a double-digit lead early with a 6-0 first quarter spurt.
First Gittens scored in transition to make it 11-4. The next time down, Quincy Davis (nine points) and McCown got offensive boards before Gittens drove the lane and dished to Davis in the post for a basket to give Taconic a nine-point margin.
Following a Wahconah turnover, Sanogo put back a rebound to make it 15-4.
It was 17-6 after one quarter, and Taconic pushed its lead to 14 points at half-time.
Neither side could get its offense going in the opening minutes of the second half, but midway through the third quarter, Taconic used a 10-0 spurt to get some breathing room. Gittens had an assist to Davis on a baseline inbounds play and a drive down the middle of the lane to make it 46-24.
Wahconah did not back down, scoring the last five points of the third quarter to set the stage for its fourth quarter rally.
O’Connor (game-high 17) scored in the post and got to the line, where he converted to make it 48-33 and start Wahconah’s 10-2 run, which included a 3-pointer form Tommy Burris (nine points) and ended with that fast break bucket by Burris to get the hosts within nine with three minutes left.
“I thought we came out and battled in the second half,” Belcher said. “I just said to my guys, I’m proud of the fact that we didn’t back down.”
Wahconah (8-3) hosts Southwick on Monday.
Taconic begins the second round of the Berkshire County North Division double round robin on Tuesday when it hosts Drury.
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