LOWELL — After knocking on the door for years, Taconic finally broke through on Saturday evening with a Division 5 state title.
The Pittsfield vocational school held off a spirited effort from previously unbeaten David Prouty, surviving with a 53-51 victory at the Tsongas Center.
In 2018 and 2019, Taconic fell in the D2 state final to TechBoston. In 2020, the newly-named Thunder advanced to the state final, only to have it cancelled due to COVID. After falling in the state semifinals last season, Taconic (23-2) came together to take down the only undefeated team left in the state.
“It feels great for the kids, and for all the ones who played previously when we fell short,” said Taconic coach Bill Heaphy.
“I love it. I want to practice tomorrow. These kids worked hard for this. We’ve been talking about it all year, and to accomplish what you set out to do, that’s really big.”
The Thunder never trailed thanks to hot shooting early from Steve Patch (13 points) and good interior play from Maimoudou Bamba (9 points) and Christian Mateurvich (11 points).
The stars on both sides were bottled up by good defensive schemes, with Prouty’s Braeden White held to 11 points after dropping 40 in the state semifinals. Taconic senior Tayvon Sandifer (13 points) was quiet early before coming alive in the second half to help the Thunder open a 12-point lead.
Sandifer, Bamba, and Mateurvich all fouled out in the fourth quarter along with Prouty’s Alec Fournier (13 points). With JJ Neiray (15 points) leading the way, Prouty (24-1) continued to close the deficit, holding Taconic to just 4 points in the fourth quarter.
On the final possession, White got the ball at the top of the key and drew three defenders before kicking it out to Cam Hoekstra (10 points), who missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer that could have completed Prouty’s storybook season.
“We’ve been here before and didn’t win it, but now we got it. It feels like we did the impossible,” said Sandifer. “We came here and we finished the mission.”
Final: Taconic 53, David Prouty 51. Taconic breaks thru after making deep runs the past 5yrs, winning the D5 state title. @GlobeSchools— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) March 18, 2023
Tayvon Sandifer (13pts) and Steve Patch (13pts) led the way. Braeden White scored 11pts for DP and made right play here to get a look from 3 pic.twitter.com/Z2qsaaGkmG
Taconic 53, David Prouty 51
at Tsongas Center, Lowell
David Prouty (23-1) ...........14 11 13 13 — 51
Taconic (23-2)....................... 18 13 18 4 — 53
DAVID PROUTY — Braeden White 3 5 11, Cameron Hoekstra 3 4 10, Judelius Neiray 6 3 15, Alec Fournier 3 3 12, Tyler Stone 1 2. Totals 16 15 50.TACONIC — Steve Patch 5 13, Jarmal Sistrunk 1 2, Christian Mateurvich 5 1 11, Tayvon Sandifer 6 1 13, Maimoudou Bamba 5 1 12, Jayden McCartney 1 2. Totals 23 3 53.
3-pt. goals: D Alec Fournier 3; T Steve Patch 3, Maimoudou Bamba.