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Division 2 boys basketball: Last chances don’t fall as Northampton drops title game to Taconic

  • Northampton's Benjamin Pion, right, tries to put a shot past Taconic's Robert McCown March 10, 2018 during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Boys Basketball Championship at the Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton's Andrew Grygorcewicz, center, tries to get past Taconic's Mohammed Sanogo, left, Isaac Percy, Quintin Gittens and Robert McCown March 10, 2018 during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Boys Basketball Championship at the Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton's Diego Corrada-Mattei is knocked to the ground March 10, 2018 during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Boys Basketball Championship against Taconic at the Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton's Michael McCarthy, center, tries to escape Taconic defense Robert McCown, left, and Mohammed Sanogo March 10, 2018 during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Boys Basketball Championship at the Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton's Jaeden Johndrow, left, dunks the ball after outrunning Taconic's Javier Osorio March 10, 2018 during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Boys Basketball Championship at the Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton's Diego Corrada-Mattei, center, tries to outrun Taconic's Javier Osorio, left, and Quintin Gittens March 10, 2018 during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Boys Basketball Championship at the Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton's Caroline Tanner, left, watches the clock run as the boys team trails Taconic slightly March 10, 2018 during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Basketball Championship at the Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton's Michael McCarthy, center, stretches to make a shot under pressure from Taconic's Mohammed Sanogo March 10, 2018 during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Boys Basketball Championship at the Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst. Taconic's Quintin Gittens looks on, at left. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton's Andrew Grygorcewicz, left, goes up for a shot under pressure from Taconic's Isaac Percy March 10, 2018 during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Boys Basketball Championship at the Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst. Taconic's Quintin Gittens, back center, and Robert McCown are shown, at back. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton's Emma Tanner, left, and Alesandra Campedelli watch the clock run as the boys team trails Taconic slightly March 10, 2018 during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Basketball Championship at the Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton's Bradford Moreau, center, lunges to reach the ball controlled by Taconic's Javier Osorio March 10, 2018 during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Boys Basketball Championship at the Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton's Jaeden Johndrow, center, is comforted by teammate Anthony Dejesus, right, after losing the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Boys Basketball Championship March 10, 2018 to Taconic at the Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton senior Andrew Grygorcewicz reacts after the Blue Devils lost to Taconic in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 championship, Saturday at the Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton's Elliot Wills, left, and Diego Corrada-Mattei react March 10, 2018 to losing the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Boys Basketball Championship to Taconic at the Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst. —GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Northampton’s Jaeden Johndrow, left, goes up for a shot under pressure from Taconic’s Isaac Percy, Saturday at the Curry Hicks Cage in Amherst. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY



@kylegrbwsk
Monday, March 12, 2018

AMHERST — Northampton took four cracks at a one-point deficit in the final minute of the Western Massachusetts Division 2 championship game.

None of them fell, and the Taconic boys basketball team outlasted the Blue Devils, 44-43, to win its first sectional title since 1977. The Braves will face Central Mass. champion Shepherd Hill at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Worcester State.

Jaeden Johndrow took Northampton’s first shot at a potential winner with 1 minute, 2 seconds left on a left-handed layup after a drop step. It sailed over the rim.

Ben Pion stripped the ball on Taconic’s next possession to give the Blue Devils another shot. Out of a timeout with 25.4 seconds left, Diego Corrada-Mattei drove and shot a right-handed floater with 14 seconds left. Taconic (16-7) grabbed the rebound, but Corrada-Mattei immediately forced a tie-up.

“We knock those shots down enough times to feel like it’s a good shot,” Northampton coach Ray Harp said.

The possession arrow went to Northampton.

Andy Grygorcewicz took a straight-on 3 with 8 seconds left that bounced off the inside of the rim.

“It was seconds winding down, so I thought it was the best shot we had,” he said.

Taconic grabbed another rebound, and Northampton fouled immediately. Taconic senior Javier Osorio missed the front end of a one-and-one with 4.1 seconds showing. Grygorcewicz snatched the rebound then lofted a pass to Johndrow as he passed the half-court line. Johndrow dribbled once and fired with two Taconic defenders around him. The shot fell short and left.

“Everything had to be contested,” Taconic coach William Heaphy said. “We had to make everything difficult.”

Northampton (15-7) held Taconic without a point for the game’s final 4:11 to even put itself in that position. The Braves didn’t score after Christian Womble hit a 3 to make it 44-38.

Six was Northampton’s biggest deficit. The Blue Devils pulled back to a one-possession game when Michael McCarthy made 1-of-2 free throws with 2:47 left. He scored a game-high 16 points for the Blue Devils.

“He had a breakout game that looks a lot like business as usual,” Harp said. “He stepped up his play in the bright lights of the Western Mass. final.”

Corrada-Mattei cut the deficit to 1 with a layup with 1:59 left after he attacked in transition. That was the last basket of the game.

Taconic dictated its style of play from the opening possession when the Braves forced a deflection after Northampton won the tip.

“They did all the little things, and we weren’t executing the little things we needed to,” Corrada-Mattei said.

Taconic led 10-9 after the first quarter and 24-19 at halftime.

“It was a rock fight first half,” Heaphy said. “There wasn’t a lot of finesse basketball offensively going on.”

The Braves maintained their defensive intensity for the rest of the game, and it was enough.

The loss marked the end of the careers of seven Northampton seniors: Elliott Wills, Grygorcewicz, Pion, Corrada-Mattei, Javonte Grant, Kiernan Thurston, Brad Moreau and Henry Doherty.

“These guys show up every day and give us effort Northampton can be proud of,” Harp said. “It’s sad we lost the game, we lost the championship, but I’m proud of the way my seniors met the challenge.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.

Taconic 44, Northampton 43

Taconic (16-7)

Wombie 2-0-6, Wittens 3-6-12, Davis 1-0-3, Osorio 3-0-7, Percy 4-0-9, Sayers 1-0-2, McGowan 0-2-2, Sanogo 1-1-3. Totals 15-9-44

Northampton (15-7)

Wills 1-0-3, Corrada-Mattei 4-2-11, Grygorcewicz 2-3-7, McCarthy 4-8-16, Moreau 1-0-2, Johndrow 2-0-4, Pion 0-0-0. Totals 14-13-43

Taconic

10

14

12

8

—44

Northampton

9

10

13

11

—43

3-Pointers—Taconic 5 (Wombie 2, Davis, Osorio, Percy), Northampton 2 (Wills, Corrada-Mattei)