Taconic boys basketball earns city rivalry sweep with win at Pittsfield High

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GILLIAN JONES — THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE
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PITTSFIELD — When Taconic junior Christian Womble prepared to catch the ball on the left baseline in the final seconds of the Braves' tied overtime game against city rival Pittsfield, his mind went back four years to a similar situation during a "War on the Floor" game. Visions of then PHS freshman Bryce Daley's winner against Taconic played vividly in his mind. Womble knew he had a chance to etch his name in city lore as senior Javier Osorio drove the lane, drawing the defense and freeing him for an open look.

Womble caught the ball and let the shot fly, sinking the 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left in the game. Pittsfield could not get off the equalizer, giving Taconic a 70-67 win on Monday. The Braves sweep the season series against Pittsfield.

"[Osorio] saw the defense coming in towards him, they brought in a triple team and tried to collapse on him," Womble said. "He dished it out to me, I make that shot all the time in practice so why not now."

Womble's shot proved to be the winner, but the overtime period was filled with dramatic moments. Taconic's Dedric Moody started OT with an offensive rebound and putback for two. Edwin Rodriguez then put Pittsfield ahead with a 3-pointer. After an empty Taconic possession, Rodriguez pulled up in transition for another 3-pointer and drained it, putting the Generals up four.

The shot sent the crowd into a frenzy, but Taconic remained poised. Joe Cracolici scored four straight in between two free throws from Osorio.

Osorio, the lone senior on the team, showed the poise of a veteran, finding Quinten Gittens for three in the corner with 59 seconds left, cutting the deficit to three.

Isaac Percy tied the game with a 3-pointer with about 30 seconds left. With the game on the line, Taconic's defense zeroed in on Rodriguez. Pressure from Womble forced the Generals senior to travel, giving the Braves the ball back with 23 seconds left, setting up Womble's winner.

"I didn't know how we pulled through with that," Womble said of responding to Rodriguez's clutch shots. "I think it shows how much heart we have and that we don't like to give up. That's what kind of team we are. We show a lot of heart."

Taconic's longtime coach Bill Heaphy has seen plenty of crosstown rivalries, and even when it seemed like Pittsfield was pulling away, he knew anything is possible when these two teams take the court.

"I know, they don't know, but I know it's never over until it's over," he said. "It's hard to convince your team of that, but our guys hung tough. We just talked about staying in the moment. There was a lot of time left. ... You've just got to believe. And sometimes you get lucky too.

"I thought we earned it. We fought and we overcame a tough deficit there. That's going to bode well for us moving forward."

Regulation had the same high-intensity moments as OT. Cracolici's putback put the Generals up four midway through the fourth. Moody answered with a 4-point play off a feed from Percy. Taconic went up by as much as four in the final quarter. Craig Jackson cut Taconic's lead to one with a 3-pointer. Rodriguez tied the game with the first of two free throws with 12.3 seconds left. His second attempt was the potential winner, but it rimmed out.

The first half was a game of runs. Pittsfield used a 13-2 streak to take a four-point lead after one. Taconic responded with a 9-0 run in the second, before Rodriguez sparked a 9-2 run to end the half. Taconic did not regain the lead until the final minutes of the fourth.

Akeem Glaspie can be reached at aglaspie@berkshireeagle.com, at @TheAkeemGlaspie on Twitter and 413-496-6252.


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