CHESHIRE -- On Thursday night, the Wahconah boys basketball team played like a tournament squad.
Buoyed by two monster 3-pointers from senior co-captain Jono Bracci in the fourth quarter, the Warriors held off Hoosac Valley 39-31 to clinch a postseason berth in their final regular season game.
"Heart and a lot of defense won this for us," said Wahconah coach Ed Ladley. "Hoosac never quit. I have so much respect for Billy Robinson. His teams always play hard. They didn't make it easy for us, that's for sure."
Ahead 31-29 with 3:08 left in the game, the Warriors (10-10) were struggling against the Hurricanes' very quick trapping half-court defense. The Wahconah guards were swinging the ball back and forth across the court, but Hoosac was covering the floor well.
Finally, Bracci found himself with the ball on the right elbow with only four seconds left on the shot clock. His shot barely rippled the net for three points.
At the 1:16 mark, the Warriors were still ahead, 34-31. The Hurricanes were doubling the ball extremely well, but guard Nick Dargi, Wahconah's other co-captain, fired a skip pass to Bracci, who was settled in almost the same spot. Bracci caught and shot. Another swisher.
"We were taking a lot of shots late in the shot clock," said Bracci. "But that was because Hoosac was playing very good defensively. Fortunately, we hit some of them."
"We had to take the shots they gave us," said Ladley. "And thank God some of them went in."
The game was low-scoring and physical.
Wahconah kept the margin between four and eight points most of the game. But with about five minutes left, back-to-back 3-point buckets by Hoosac's Matt Tomkiewicz suddenly sliced a 29-21 margin to just two points. Moments later, the Hurricanes Trevor Alibozek connected on a soft half-hook shot in the lane and the game was tied.
Marco Anastasio hit a runner for the Warriors to snap the tie with about four minutes left. Then Bracci stepped up.
Bracci and Collin Parrott both had 12 for Wahconah and Cole Morrison added a team-best eight rebounds and four points off the bench. Trevor Alibozek led Hoosac with 10 points and 10 rebounds.