Wahconah Girls Top Taconic to Stay Unbeaten
DALTON, Mass. -- The pandemic robbed the Wahconah girls basketball team of what should have been a special playoff run this winter.
But whatever else happens in this crazy, COVID season, there is one thing no one can take away from Liz Kay's squad: It went 5-0 against reigning state champions.
Maria Gamberoni scored 19 points, and Noelle Furlong grabbed 15 rebounds Wednesday as Wahconah posted a 47-31 win over Taconic.
Included in Wahconah's 18-0 record this winter are four wins against Division 3 Co-State Champion Hoosac Valley. Wednesday marked Wahconah's only chance to play 2020 D2 Co-State Champion Taconic, which just started playing games on Monday.
In a year when teams are playing three or four games a week -- at least -- to squeeze in as much competition as they can after a Feb. 3 start, practice time has been at a premium.
But Kay made a point to put in some wrinkles with Taconic coming to town.
"I think you have to put in something different when you play a team that good," Kay said. "[Taconic] had some kids who stepped up and made some big shots, which meant we had to make even more adjustments.
"But we did alter a lot of what we do, and that's out of complete respect for what they bring to the table. There's a reason they're a state championship team."
Neither of these Berkshire County heavyweights gave up much to the other in the early going, and when Grace Wigington scored in transition with two minutes left in the first quarter, it gave Wahconah the lead at 5-4.
But Wahconah added six more points in the next minute-plus to end the first quarter with an 11-4 advantage thanks to Olivia Gamberoni's late 3-pointer.
After an Alexandra Hudson triple for Taconic to open the second, Wahconah went on a 10-0 run to establish its first double-digit lead of the game. Maria Gamberoni scored three times in that stretch, which ended on a transition bucket by her sister Olivia.
Taconic (1-2) rallied to start the second half.
A pair of Ahliya Phillips 3-pointers wrapped around a Faith Cross free throw made it a one-possession game at 25-22 midway through the third.
But Wahconah answered with a 3 from Noelle Furlong, a Wigington bucket on a second-chance opportunity and a long 2 by Maria Gamberoni to push the lead back 32-22.
Taconic closed to within five points one more time on a putback by Brenna McNeice to make it 33-28. But Wahconah finished the game on a 14-3 run.
Emma Belcher scored seven points, and Furlong, Wigington and Olivia Gamberoni added six apiece in the win.
Hudson finished with four 3-pointers for 12 points, and Phillips added 10 to go with 11 rebounds for Taconic.
"Wahconah played well," Taconic coach Matt Mickle said. "They're a tough team. In a regular year, I think we would have had a hard time in the game. I'm proud of my team. I thought they competed tonight. These guys were just a step ahead of us the whole game."
Mickle said Taconic played its best basketball out of three games in three nights.
"I thought we played hard and competed, and, unfortunately, we played a really good team tonight," he said.
Taconic goes to Monument Mountain on Friday. Wahconah hosts Drury on Thursday before wrapping up the season at home on Saturday against Pittsfield.