DALTON, Mass. -- The Wahconah boys Friday used tenacious defense and two big 3-pointers down the stretch to earn a 46-40 win over Berkshire County North Division rival Taconic.
Kevin Huban scored a game-high 24 points, and Luke Hescock grabbed 10 rebounds as Taconic lost for the first time to a Berkshire County opponent since a Feb. 9, 2018, trip to Dalton.
A standing room only crowd was kept on the edge of its seats throughout the second half as Taconic rallied from an 11-point deficit to get within a point with less than four minutes to go. But Wahconah (6-1) held on for its fourth straight win.
“It was funny because the house was packed during the middle of the JV game, and it just amped us up,” Huban said. “We had the whole crowd on our side. It really helped us out.”
“It was the start of the league play for us,” Wahconah coach Dustin Belcher said. “It’s our home court. And it’s one of those things where it’s been a while since we beat ‘em. And they know that. But we’ve got to take it one possession at a time, and I thought we did a good job of that.”
The biggest possessions came down the stretch. And although Huban hit three 3-pointers on the night, the last two field goals came elsewhere for Belcher’s squad.
Midway through the fourth, Taconic (7-3, 1-1) scored on back-to-back possessions to get within a point.
First, Bo Bramer hit a pullup jumper to make it 38-35. Then, after Taconic forced a turnover at the other end, Isaac Percy set up Ezekiel Percy for a bucket to make it 38-37 with 3 minutes, 20 seconds remaining.
After the teams traded empty trips, Wahconah’s Tom O’Connor scored his only points of the night: a 3-pointer to make it a four-point game with 2:32 remaining.
Ezekiel Percy then scored again to make it a one-possession game with 2:06 on the clock.
Following a Taconic turnover with 1:19 left, Huban got to the line for a one-and-one and made both.
But Sean Harrigan got to the foul line for Taconic and converted the first to get within three with 42 seconds on the clock.
Wahconah’s Hescock rebounded the ball on the miss, and the hosts got the ball into the front court.
Isaac Percy nearly created another turnover, but O’Connor was able to regain control and with the shot clock winding down found Easton Eberwein in the corner. He delivered a back-breaking 3-pointer to make it 46-40.
Taconic got off a 3 that fell short and out of bounds with 1.1 seconds left, and Wahconah made an uncontested inbounds pass, ran out the clock and started the celebration.
After scoring 28 points in the first half, Wahconah managed just five field goals in the second half.
“Credit Taconic for that,” Belcher said. “They made some adjustments, made it tough for us. Obviously, we hit some big shots. Easton Eberwein’s 3 at the end -- you’ve got to have the courage to take the shot and take it with confidence. And he had another 3 earlier in the game as well, and both times he was very confident.
“We definitely weren’t getting the action to the rim that we were getting in the first half, so we had to do at the defensive end. And we really did. Holding them to 40 points is a tough task.”
Percy and Mohammed Sanogo each had nine points to lead Taconic. For the season, they average 19 and 13, respectively.
“I thought we did a really good job on [Sanogo],” Belcher said of Taconic’s center. “It was a collective effort when we were in zone. When we were in man, I thought Luke Hescock did a good job on him. Overall, the game plan was to take away his easy looks, and I thought we did a good job of that.”
In the first half, Huban scored 16 points -- mostly in the lane -- to help Wahconah lead by as many as 14.
It was a seven-point game when Wahconah put on a spurt late in the second quarter. Huban scored in the post and knocked down a 3, and Hescock put back and offensive rebound to make it 28-14.
Harrigan hit a free throw and Bramer set up Sanogo for a bucket with 19 seconds left to make it an 11-point game at half-time.
Taconic started the second half with a 9-2 run that featured two timeouts from Belcher and ended when Eric Montgomery tipped in a rebound to make it 30-26.
Huban stopped the run with a 3-pointer at the buzzer that brought the crowd to its feet and set the stage for a back-and-forth fourth quarter.
“That was a lot of momentum for us,” Huban said. “Right at the buzzer. Anyone who hits a buzzer-beater turns it up for the whole team.”
Both teams play their next game in the league against Drury. Taconic hosts the Blue Devils on Monday. Wahconah is in North Adams on Wednesday.