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Taconic Boys Basketball Was Top Story of '23
By Stephen Dravis, Sports
06:04AM / Friday, December 29, 2023
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The year started with one high school state championship on the show and ended with another on the hardwood.
In between, there were plenty of team titles, tournament runs and individual accomplishments to keep Berkshire County high school and youth sports fans in the seats and on the sidelines.
Although not every successful season ended in the ultimate prize, there was plenty to be proud of along the way. And here is a look back at some of the biggest stories we covered in 2023:

No. 1 Taconic Boys Basketball

Of all the state championships won this year – and there were several – perhaps none was sweeter than that of the Thunder in the Division 5 State Basketball Tournament.
True, Taconic had just won a D2 state crown three years earlier, but that was 2020. And it was a co-state championship after the final game of the tourney was canceled due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aside from that banner with an asterisk, Taconic had been clearly the best team in the state to not quite finish on top: a Western Mass final loss in 2017 (under the old sectional format for the state tournament), losses in the state final in 2018 and 2019, no tournament at all in 2021, and a two-point state semi-final loss in 2022.
The 2023 edition of the Thunder stormed through the first four rounds of the state tourney by margins of 28 points, 39 points, 17 points and 22 points. In the final, it took a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter at the Tsongas Center in Lowell before its reserves held on for a two-point victory.

No. 2 Mount Greylock Volleyball

Few teams get to say they were the best in the state in a given year. Far fewer get to say they did it while not losing a single contest along the way. Only one squad from Berkshire County gets to make either claim.
The Mount Greylock Mounties shattered the glass ceiling that held the county’s teams back from claiming a state crown in dominating fashion – compiling a record of 25-0 and losing just four sets in all that time, including none in the state tournament.
In the Division 5 title match, the Mounties wore down second-seeded Bourne after a first set battle to take the match, 25-22, 25-19, 25-14.
Mount Greylock won the county’s first state crown behind a group of seven seniors – most of which played for the school since the seventh grade under now sixth-year head coach Greg Geyer.
And that group included one standout swinger who earned an accolade almost as rare in Berkshire County. Mount Greylock’s Celina Savage, along with Wahconah’s Sasha Fyfe, earned all-state recognition, the first county student-athletes to do so in 14 years.

3. Mount Greylock Nordic Skiing

A state title does not have to be rare to be special. Sometimes perennial excellence is enough.
The Mount Greylock boys cross country ski team won its third straight state championship at Prospect Mountain in Vermont behind a second straight individual title for then-junior Quinn McDermott.
The Mount Greylock boys led a typically strong Berkshire County contingent at the state meet, where the school’s girls placed third in the commonwealth. Wahconah’s boys were fifth in a 16-team meet, and Lenox’s girls placed sixth.

4. Pittsfield Bowling

The Generals knocked off their rivals from Taconic to win the state title match at Cove Lanes, capping a tumultuous couple of years that included a global pandemic and the loss of Pittsfield’s home lanes to a wrecking ball.
Throughout it all, Pittsfield HIgh’s bowling balls were true, and the Generals’ persistence paid off with a 2-0 sweep of the defending champion Thunder in the final.
Pittsfield led a strong county contingent that placed three teams in the state semifinals. Taconic was the top qualifier for the round of four behind a near-perfect game from the league’s most valuable player, Andrew Robitaille. Lee also reached the semis, placing third in an 11-team field that entered the qualifying round.

5. Adams-Cheshire Little League

You want to talk title droughts? It was 32 years since a Little League team from the town of Adams won a Berkshire County/District 1 Championship in the 12-year-old Little League (Williamsport} tournament.
This year’s crop of Adams-Cheshire Little Leaguers ended that drought by going 3-1 in pool play at the district tournament before edging defending champion Pittsfield American Division, 2-0, in the District 1 final.
Brayden Durant was a force throughout the district tourney, and he finished his week by hitting a solo home run and striking out 11 in a complete-game shutout on the mound in the championship game.

6. Berkshire County Wrestling

The county’s four wrestling programs put on a show at the Division 3 Western Massachusetts Championships as Monument Mountain, Taconic and Mount Everett placed second, third and fourth, respectively, and Mount Greylock finished eighth, in the top half of a 16-team field.
The Spartans, Thunder and Eagles combined to take home five 14 individual titles at the sectional meet.
A week later, three Mount Everett grapplers reached the semi-finals of the state tournament, where Tyler Candelari finished second in the state at 126 pounds to lead the Eagles to a fourth-place finish in the state.

No. 7 Mount Greylock Track and Field

The Mount Greylock track and field teams pulled off a double at the Western Massachusetts Championships, claiming boys and girls crowns in Division 2.
The girls were led at Mohawk Trail by junior Maggie Nichols, who doubled in the 100 and 200, as Mount Greylock overcame the absence of five seeded student-athletes at the regional meet.
A week later, Mount Greylock’s girls and boys each placed second in the D6 State Championships at Westfield State University.
Not too bad for a high school program without a high school track. But even that is scheduled to change by 2025, when the school opens a new eight-lane track for which it broke ground at the end of 2023.

No. 8 Championship Saturday

Berkshire County basketball squads again were at the top of their respective classes in the 2023 Western Massachusetts regional tournaments.
In the Class B girls, Wahconah beat Pittsfield in the Western Mass finals en route to a run to the state title game later in the winter.
On the same day, in Class D, Hoosac Valley beat Lenox for a Western Mass title and Drury fell short in the Class C championship game.
In boys basketball, Drury was the top team in Class C while Taconic lost by six points in the Class B finale, the third loss of the year for a Taconic team that went on to finish with five straight W’s in the state tourney.

No. 9 Monument Mountain Baseball

Winning a Class B Western Massachusetts State Championship was impressive enough. Doing so against the most dominant program in Berkshire County high school sports in the last five years was even sweeter.
Behind pitchers Collin Parker and Jack Bissaillon, the Spartans edged top-seeded Taconic and Kansas State-bound Matt Lee, 5-3, to claim the crown.
The Thunder, which went on to finish 20-4 with a loss in the D3 state semi-finals, was a state champion in 2019 and 2020 and a Western Mass champion in 2022.
But Monument Mountain had plenty of playoff experience as well: one-run losses in the Western Mass quarter-finals in 2020 and state tournament round of 16 in ‘22. This year’s edition of Monument Mountain baseball went on to finish 19-4 with another appearance in the Sweet 16.
Veteran Spartan coach Tom Hankey put the win over the Thunder into perspective, “This was definitely up with one of the best wins for the Monument Mountain program for sure,” he said. “It's up there for sure."

No. 10 Wahconah Golf

A year after a disappointing showing at the Division 2 Western Massachusetts Championships, Wahconah overwhelmed the competition in a 22-stroke team win at Crestview Country Club.
Tim Kaley and Pat McLaughlin placed first and second as individuals, and Sam McLaughlin and Brady Breitmaier each made the top 10 in a 72-player field for a Wahconah team that lost just one dual match in the Berkshire County League over the last two seasons.
Wahconah went on to represent the section at the state championships, where it placed 11th.

Honorable Mention

Hoosac Valley football goes 10-1 with a berth in the state semi-finals. … Lenox girls tennis also advances to the Final Four with 19 straight wins before running into the defending state champions from Hamilton-Wenham. … Lenox girls cross country places second at state meet behind sixth-place Alice Culver. … Wahconah and Lenox boys lacrosse each take home Western Mass championships, as do the Mount Greylock girls. … Mount Greylock boys soccer comes from behind to win a Western Mass crown after years of disappointment in the sectional and regional tournaments. … Long a staple of the summer sports season in North County, the John Giorgi Summer Basketball League returns, though at an indoor venue this time around, with games at the Armory instead in the fresh air at the Noel Field Athletic Complex. ... Pittsfield Babe Ruth hosts the 15-year-old New England Regional at Wahconah Park. ... Pittsfield city officials try to figure out the best way to renovate the historic baseball stadium.


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