Bramer Leads Taconic Girls Back to Western Mass Final

By Stephen Sports
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Taea Bramer scored 13 first-half points to help the Taconic girls basketball team take a 12-point lead en route to a 61-44 win over Amherst in the semi-finals of the Western Massachusetts Division 2 tournament.
Bramer finished with 17 points, and Ciany Conyers and Ahliya Phillips added 14 and 13, respectively as third-seeded Taconic (20-2) earned a date on Saturday at Curry Hicks Cage against No. 4 East Longmeadow (15-7), a 60-50 winner over Pittsfield on Tuesday night.
"As a senior captain, I think [Bramer] settles us down," Taconic coach Matt Mickle said. "She's a good ball handler. She's had the experience of being in this spot before. I thought she played pretty calm under the pressure, and [Amherst] kind of makes you play a little bit helter-skelter out there.
"I thought we did a good job of trying to get into stuff. The way they play, they make you play frantically. So it was hard to really get into what we wanted to get into."
Taconic still went the 60-point mark for just the third time in its last eight games and rendered Amherst's efforts to pressure the ball mostly ineffective all night.
Bramer talked about her mindset in bringing the ball upcourt.
"Basically, just to stay calm and get into the open space in the middle, stay away from the traps, and your teammates will cut and be open," she said.
Taconic took its first significant lead with a 9-0 spurt late in the first quarter.
Faith Cross (10 points, nine rebounds) got it started when she converted an assist from Bramer, later set up Bramer for a 3-pointer and ended it by putting back an offensive rebound to give her team an 18-7 lead.
"Faith played great early in the game," Mickle said. "She did a really good job of getting some putbacks, getting some rebounds, creating some chaos by altering shots.
"I was disappointed when she got the third [foul]. It was probably my fault. I was thinking that I should probably get her out, and three seconds later, she gets her third. So that's on my, not on her. She's been great all year, and she gets better every day."
Tamia Patrick (seven points, nine rebounds) gave Taconic a 12-point lead when she knocked down a 3-pointer midway through the second quarter, and that is where the margin stood at half-time.
The seventh-seeded Hurricanes (16-6) briefly got within eight in the third quarter, but a 5-1 spurt by Taconic -- featuring two more baskets from Cross -- got the margin back to double figures, where it stayed the rest of the way.
Taconic Saturday will make its second straight appearance in the sectional final. Last year, it fell to Northampton, 46-42, its second loss of the 2018-19 campaign against the Blue Devils.
This year, Taconic goes in with a 56-48 win over the Spartans under its belt.
"We need to keep the energy," Bramer said. "We need to go right back in the gym tomorrow and practice as hard and keep our mentality of: We're not done."
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