AMHERST -- A hot-and-cold season for Taconic ended that way.
The Braves were within four points of No. 1 Greenfield in the fourth quarter on Tuesday night in the Western Massachusetts Division II semifinals at the Curry Hicks Cage. Then, the roof came crashing down.
"We made those runs and then after that we feel like our heads just got out of it," said Taconic junior Drew Scace. "We didn't execute to our ability really."
The fourth-seeded Braves were outscored by 12 over the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter, falling 62-49 in a game that seemed within their grasp. Shaquille Ardrey had 14 points and 11 boards, including nine points in the third quarter while Trayvon Sims added 16. Scace had 10.
Greenfield advances to face South Hadley in Saturday's sectional final. The Green Wave (20-2) put together big runs in the second and fourth quarters to get the separation they needed against Taconic. Robin Marchese had 17 while Lew Borden added 13.
"Trayvon kind of got us going early and then Shaq in the third," said Braves coach Bill Heaphy. "[Greenfield] made some big shots and all of a sudden it was up to 10, up to 12. I thought we dropped our heads a little bit and got discouraged, frustrated. We kind of got away a little bit from what we were doing earlier."
After a tight first quarter, Greenfield scored the first nine points of the second quarter. Taconic had four looks at layups and Ardrey had a trip to the foul line over the same stretch, but the Braves couldn't get a point. Marchese pounced, tallying five points over 15 seconds.
But Ardrey got Taconic right back into the game, getting to the basket consistently in the third quarter to cut the lead to four. It all turned out to be a mirage.
"We told them, ‘Just keep it up, keep it up,' " said Greenfield coach Scott Thayer. "We'll get some turnovers and easy baskets. That's what happened. We extended the lead a little bit. We thought our pressure would be a key for us."
The Braves couldn't carry momentum over into the final quarter. After three minutes the lead had ballooned to 13 and Taconic had no chance against the rising tide.
"We all just dropped our heads," Ardrey said. "It's hard to pick us back up. We were down by so many. We tried to fight hard because we wanted to play on Saturday. We dropped our head as a team."
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