By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
3/16/22 * 06:55 AM
(DALTON, MA) - Paulo Freire SJCS travelled to Berkshire County to play Taconic HS in the MIAA Division 5 Semifinal round.
Paulo Freire is the #4 seed in Division 5. Taconic was the #1 seed.
The game was played at Wahconah Regional HS in Dalton, MA. Taconic HS is about 9 miles from Wahconah Regional. The #1 seed got a de facto “home game”.
Neither team scored in the first two minutes of the game. Paulo Freire committed multiple unforced turnovers in the first quarter. Halfway through the first, Taconic led 7-0. Paulo Freire’s offense wasn’t executing well. They had to take tough shots. Taconic was ahead but they weren’t playing great. They missed shots that could have put them ahead farther.
The first quarter ended 9-3 Taconic. Sandro Diaz was the only player to score for Paulo Freire.
Paulo Freire Senior Bryan Jimenez started to score in the second quarter. He made two 3s and layup. His offensive spurt narrowed Taconic’s lead 13-11.
Paulo Freire Junior Emmanuel Cruz made 2 FTs that tied the game at 13. Paulo Freire was close to getting shutout in the first quarter. With three minutes left in the 2nd quarter, the game was even.
Diaz made 2 more FTs for Paulo Freire. Those FTs gave Paulo Freire their first lead 17-15.
At halftime, the game was tied at 17. Taconic got a lot of shot attempts in the first half. They were very active on the offensive glass.
In the third quarter, and throughout the game, Paulo Freire made great defensive plays, mainly by DJ Daniels and Chris Fontanez. At 6’7”, Fontanez should be a deterrent in the lane and he was on Tuesday night. He blocked multiple shots and also “changed” multiple shots - some Taconic offensive players got hesitant to go in the paint. Daniels is the PG but he had just as many blocks as Fontanez [no official total for blocks]. Many of Daniels’ blocks came on fast breaks. Daniels has a good vertical and good timing. Paulo Freire led after 3 quarters 31-29.
Taconic got the lead back briefly in the 4th quarter. Sean Harrigan made a 3 that put Taconic up 34-33. DJ Daniels split a pair of FTs. The game was tied, once again, at 34.
Paulo Freire went on a mini-run to separate from Taconic. They scored 6 unanswered points. Paulo Freire led 40-34 with 3 minutes left in the game.
Down the stretch, Paulo Freire Junior Trevor Mims stole the ball from a Taconic player. He was fouled and made 1 FT. Paulo Freire led 45-38.
Taconic scored 7 points in the last 42 seconds. DJ Daniels made 2 FTs that sealed the game within that Taconic scoring flurry.
Paulo Freire beat Taconic 47-45.
Bryan Jimenez scored a team-high 13 points. Sandro Diaz scored 11 points; Emmanuel Cruz scored 10 points.
Sean Harrigan scored a game-high 19 points for Taconic. Tayvon Sandifer scored 11 points.
After the game, I spoke with Paulo Freire interim HC Jonathan Davila.
You’re going to the State Finals. How do you feel right now?
“I’m happy, excited. I was nervous coming out here - it’s like 10 minutes away for them, an hour plus for us…”
What did you tell your team after scoring 3 points in the first quarter?
“I told the guys, ‘You gotta step it up on defense’. Our scoring is gonna come ‘cause we can score…Once we play solid defense and get the point guard under control, we can win”.
Can you talk about Daniels and Fontanez protecting the basket tonight?
“DJ [and Chris] got a lot of blocks…Daniels played great defense and offense tonight…He can break the press [by] himself and find open guys”.
Paulo Freire will play the winner of Maynard vs. Baystate Academy. Those two teams play today, 3/16/22, at Worcester North HS, at 7:15 PM. The MIAA Championship Games will be played at the Tsongas Center, which is on the UMass-Lowell campus, March 18-20.