Saturday, March 17, 2018

Tech Boston Runs Away from Taconic for D2 Crown

By Ethan Winter (@EWints)

Springfield, Mass. - “Defense wins championships” is one of the oldest sports clichés in the book, but for the Tech Boston Bears, it still rings true. The Bears employed a ferocious defense to stifle the Taconic Braves, en route to a resounding 78-40 win in the Division 2 State Championship, the first title in program history.

“It starts with defense and it ends with defense,” said Tech Boston head coach Johnny Lee Williams.

For Taconic (17-8), the Tech Boston (25-1) defense was unlike any they had seen all year, as the Bears forced 34 Braves turnovers.

“That was probably the most pressure that we have seen all season,” said Taconic senior guard Javier Rosario.

“They are as strong a defense that we’ve seen all season,” added Rosario’s head coach Bill Heaphy. “They are really fast and it seemed like there were more than five guys out there at times.”

The Bears rode their defense all season long starting in their trip to Washington D.C. at the beginning of the season in early December all the way to a state championship in Springfield, the Birthplace of Basketball.

“Our journey started in D.C. We took a trip out to Maryland to play to get us ready and it ended in a trip to Springfield which is the birthplace of basketball, which is a great journey for these young men from the inner city of Dorchester,” said Williams.

One of those young men was Walter Dew-Hollis who was one of four Tech Boston players to score in double figures, leading them with a game high 17 points.

“Heading into the game, I knew if we played as a team, came out and played hard, stay focused and do everything that coach asks us to do, we would come out with the win,” said Dew-Hollis. 

Both teams started to heat up in the second quarter after a slow start to the game offensively in the first quarter. Tech Boston outscored Taconic 23-15 in the first quarter to extend their lead to 14 at halftime, but the third quarter was where the Bears really began to separate themselves from the Braves thanks to a big 18-4 run to close out the third quarter.

Williams added that when they are struggling offensively, they often times turn to their defense to get their offense going.

“Sometimes when our offense isn’t clicking, our best offense is our is our defense.”

That was no more evident than when the Bears scored six points in 23 seconds.

“Defensively we knew that we play a lot of teams that are great at shooting, they can get the ball, and they can move the ball, get open and get shots. Coach tells us to get to the shooters with both hands up to close out on the shooter and to pack the lane when they drive to the rack and that’s what we did,” Dew-Hollis said.

Tech Boston had some pretty good shooters themselves as they combined to make eight three pointers in the game.

By the end of the third, the fourth quarter was all but a formality as the Bears led 54-27 heading into the final frame. Tech Boston led by as many as 40 in the fourth quarter but Heaphy was proud of the way that his guys played until the very end.

“As much as we are not satisfied with the outcome, I am extremely proud of this group of kids,” concluded Heaphy. 

For Tech Boston, it is the first state championship in their program’s history and the third straight basketball state championship for an inner-city Boston school.

What Williams is most proud of is that his starting five was able to get an opportunity for the other kids that don’t always play to get an opportunity to actually play in a state title game at the Mass Mutual Center instead of just experiencing it from the bench.

“I was happy that they were able to get guys that work just as hard as them but don’t always get to see their names in the paper everyday to get them on the court and not just go through the journey, but to play at the [Mass] Mutual Center and touch the floor. That’s what means the most to me is that the starting five, or my key six allowed the other guys to experience on the court and not just from the bench watching them do what they do and was actually involved,” Williams concluded.

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