DALTON -- It's the kind of game Wahconah is finally winning.
"There's some great teams here in Berkshire County," said Warriors coach Ed Ladley. "There's going to be some dogfights [with] St. Joe's, Taconic, Pittsfield High."
In the gym bearing Ladley's name, Wahconah had to scrap to win one of those battles on Thursday, stopping Taconic 51-48. For a Warriors team that struggled last season, being able to withstand everything the Braves threw at them in a 22-point fourth-quarter rally was huge.
"Our togetherness, all season we've been pushing to stay together," said Jono Bracci. "That's what worked for us. It feels great. Last year, two wins, 18 losses, one of the worst records our school has seen in years. The [morale] on the team [this year], everything is clicking."
Bracci, who finished with 10 points, helped get things rolling with a buzzer-beating 3 that gave Wahconah (6-2, 2-2 North) a 13-5 lead after a quarter. It was one of four straight 3s from Bracci and Collin Parrott, who had 18 points, that put the Warriors in control.
The lead was a comfortable double digits for most of the first three quarters, aided by a tough, swarming zone defense from Ladley's club.
"We really worked as hard as we can on defense," Parrott said. "As the game went on it kind of wore off. But at the end we buckled down."
Taconic (3-5, 2-2 North) made its push in the fourth, knocking down five 3s in the final eight minutes. Three came from Trayvon Sims, who had 10 of his 14 in the fourth. His 3 with 1:23 left cut a lead that had been at 13 less than four minutes earlier to just four. The Braves pulled within a point thanks to a free throw from Sims and a bucket from Mike Taylor with 25.3 seconds left.
That's as close as Taconic could get though, with Parrott sinking two late free throws to ice the win.
"Real discouraged with the effort level from the beginning right through to the third quarter," said Braves coach Bill Heaphy. "I just didn't see the urgency. Ed's team was playing hard -- playing harder than we were. Usually you play hard, you have the best chance to win."
The Warriors had to fight for this one. Ladley said he knew his defenders were going to tire, urging them to stay close with shooters as the clock ticked down. Turns out, they had just enough in the tank to hold on. That is something Parrott and his teammates could get used to.
"It didn't seem like they were missing," Parrott said. "We just stayed composed and held the ball at the end to win. ... I wanted to get the win for my team because we work hard every day. I just wanted to get the win."
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