PITTSFIELD -- Education is all about questions and answers. On Friday night, Quabbin had all the answers and aced its first Western Massachusetts Division II tournament test.
Quabbin's Dylan Kierman had a game-high 22 points and was 13 of 14 from the free throw line as seventh-seeded Quabbin beat No. 3 Taconic 81-65 in a quarterfinal game.
"It was very frustrating. We came out in the third quarter and had a little run. We got it to seven [points]," said Taconic center Mike Taylor. "They called time out and we just fell apart again."
Taconic led 4-0, but trailed 15-12 after one quarter. A pair of Shaq Ardrey free throws made it a one-point game. The Panthers answered with a 15-4 run and never looked back. Taconic did cut the lead to seven points early in the third quarter, but got no closer.
A 3-point basket by Kierman pushed the lead back to 10 and that was all she wrote.
The Panthers were one of the better shooting teams Taconic had seen all year. Quabbin was 11 of 16 from 3-point range in the game, and that was something the Braves couldn't recover from.
"No question. They shot the lights out," said Taconic coach Bill Heaphy. "And it's not one guy. We knew they shot a lot of threes. I thought we missed a lot of assignments early and dug a hole."
Ardrey, who finished with 21 points, but made only four hoops, made two of his 13 free throws to open the second quarter. Quabbin answered with back-to-back treys by Randy White and Griffin Bennett. Those hoops started the decisive run.
When White nailed his second trey of the quarter, the Braves were looking up from a 30-16 hole.
"They shot the ball a lot better than we thought they would," said Taconic forward Drew Scace. "We didn't play to our ability. There wasn't anything that we never saw.
"We didn't get our confidence so low that we couldn't come back. We had it within seven, but just couldn't keep it."
That margin came early in the third quarter. Taconic scored the first nine points of the quarter with Ardrey scoring six of them. The Braves opened with a press and scored four of those nine points off of turnovers.
Stop me if you've heard this before, but once Taconic cut the lead to seven points, Quabbin hit a 3-point shot. This time it was Collin Bennett with the long ball. That increased Quabbin's lead to 10 points, and the Braves never got closer.
"To be honest, I personally didn't know much at all" about Taconic, said Kierman. "I knew [Ardrey] was a prolific scorer and I knew they had that real big kid [Taylor]. That's all I knew.
"I knew Western Mass. basketball, we're not really accustomed to. It's more of a run-and-gun game, where in Central Mass., we're more used to low-scoring games. It's good to come out here and get a surprise."
Taylor finished his Taconic career with a 14-point, 8-rebound night. Sophomore Treyvon Ringgold had 10 points and 7 rebounds while Scace scored 9 and had 9 boards.
For Quabbin, the Bennett brothers combined to score 27 points. Collin had 16 points and Griffin had 11. Marco Gabrielli had a double-double for Quabbin with 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
"We never really got into any rhythm at all," said Taconic's Heaphy. "It seemed like every open shot they had, they made."
To reach Howard Herman:
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On Twitter: @howardherman.