Taconic boys, Wahconah girls arrive at Western Massachusetts semifinals
Western Mass. Division II Boys
Taconic vs. Longmeadow
This is a rematch of last year's Division II championship game, won by the Lancers.
The six-seed Braves advanced to the 2017-18 semifinals after knocking off No. 3 Tantasqua 61-42 last Thursday. Isaac Percy led the way with 28 points. Quentin Gittens added 15 points. The duo outscored the Warriors by themselves, but Taconic will need a more balanced approach against Longmeadow.
Harry Levin's 22 points led Longmeadow over Belchertown in its quarterfinal matchup.
The Lancers enter tonight's contest on a three-game winning streak. Taconic has won four in a row.
Longmeadow and Taconic met in late January, and the Lancers earned a 55-51 win. Michael McLaughlin led Longmeadow with 14 points. Will Hurwitz had 13 points. Will Echeverria and Nick Mishol added nine points each. Percy was held to just 12 points, but he's made strides as a scorer since their last meeting.
Another big change for the Braves — literally — is adding center Mohamed Sanogo into the starting lineup. Sanogo's length allows him to protect the paint and grab rebounds.
This Taconic squad is much different than last year. Only Percy saw the court in last year's championship game, but Taconic coach Bill Heaphy said they're ready for another shot at the Lancers.
"We're real excited," Heaphy said to the Eagle after beating Tantasqua. "I think early on in the year, everyone was kind of like 'oh, Taconic lost 12 seniors,' and we lost a kid that would have been with us in Drew DeMartino. We lost 13 guys. So I don't think they expected too much. Everyone but us. We knew what we had. We are pretty excited to be where we are right now. We know there is work to be done, nothing will be easy from this point on."
Western Mass. Division III Girls
Wahconah vs. South Hadley
Liz Kay's Warriors got an extra day to come down from their monster playoff win over Hoosac Valley, and will have had a full week off in between tournament games. That means plenty of time spent studying South Hadley, which finished the regular season 16-4 and beat Monument Mountain 60-51 in the quarterfinals.
These two teams did not meet during the season, but both swept the Spartans twice. The Tigers beat up Granby a little bit, while the Warriors dropped their season-opener to the Rams. South Hadley is led by junior scorer Mia Kelly, who plays with tremendous speed and can fill it up from all over the court. Classmate Alexa Blaney is an impressive scorer as well. South Hadley fell in the Western Mass. final to Hoosac last season, it's first loss of the year. Wahconah missed the tournament a year ago, so the experience edge will trend toward the No. 2 seed.
The Warriors will need to be consistent from outside, as the Tigers are susceptible to sleepy close-outs. Monument hit an uncharacteristic five 3-pointers in its postseason loss. Wahocnah's balanced offense will give South Hadley problems as well. Julia O'Connor, Cassie Tobler and Maria Gamberoni all finished in the top 20 in Berkshire County scoring. Wahconah's youth proved its mettle a week ago in a hostile environment. South Hadley and The Cage will present new challenges, but Kay's Warriors are fearless and ready for the challenge.
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