PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Tayvon Sandifer scored 29 points, and the Taconic boys basketball team Friday took control of the game in the second half to earn a 73-45 win over Lenox in the Division 5 State Tournament.
After playing to a 31-31 tie through the first 16 minutes, the top-seeded Thunder held the Millionaires to just 14 second half points as it earned a spot in the tournament’s Sweet 16 and a rematch with Paulo Freire Social Justice, which bounced Taconic last winter by two points in the state semi-finals.
“At first, we weren’t playing good defense,” said Maimoudou Bamba, who finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and a pair of blocks. “Coach talked to us when we went to the locker room, told us to step it up a little bit. We came out with better energy, and we beat them at their own game.”
Taconic started the second half with an 11-0 run that featured two buckets by Bamba, including one on a laser-perfect entry pass to the post from Sandifer. Jamal Sistrunk capped the run with a jumper from the right wing to give Taconic a 42-31 lead with 3 minutes, 20 seconds on the clock.
Taconic forced four Lenox turnovers during the run.
“That’s what we needed to do,” Taconic coach Bill Heaphy said. “We needed to have our defense help our offense getting the the transition game a little bit.
“Tayvon played well. I thought Tayvon was ready from the start. He had a good game. And I thought we had guys pick up in the second half that were absent in the first half.”
Bamba scored seven of his 13 points in the third quarter.
Steve Patch finished with nine points, all on 3-pointers, and Christian Maturevich had nine points and six rebounds.
Lenox got 15 points from Michael Butler and 10 from Shaler Larmon.
Larmon scored all his points in the first half, when the 32nd-seeded Millionaires proved they were ready to try to keep Taconic from getting its try for payback against Paulo.
Lenox used an 8-0 run that spanned the first and second quarters to take a seven point lead.
Alex Blake got things started with a bucket in the post at the end of the first to give the Millionaires a 13-12 lead.
Larmon then scored the first six points of the third quarter – two mid-range jumpers and a pair of free throws – to put the Millionaires ahead, 19-12 with 6 minutes, 46 seconds left in the second.
Taconic cut the margin to two, but Lenox (8-14) pulled back ahead, 25-19, midway through the quarter, when Emmitt Shove (seven points, eight rebounds) hit a jumper from the right side.
Lenox’s last lead was 27-22 after Butler scored in transition.
Taconic (19-3) scored the next seven points to go ahead on a basket in the post by Jayden McCartney. The teams then traded buckets in the final minute of the half, Butler tying the game for the last time just before the break at 31-31.
After the Thunder’s initial run to start the third, Taconic just kept extending its lead, finishing the game on a 10-1 run that featured its reserves in the closing minutes.