NEW HAVEN — Trumbull High’s Chris Brown grabbed a defensive rebound and went end-to-end of the court for a layup in traffic, and East Catholic coach Luke Reilly called for timeout with his top-seeded club trailing 14-9 six minutes into their Division I state semifinal game with No. 5 Trumbull at the Floyd Little Athletic Center on Wednesday night.
“They jumped into a 1-2-2 press and got the momentum right there,” Trumbull coach Buddy Bray said after East Catholic’s 86-58 victory. “They got momentum. We tried to push the ball more than we should have and that opened the game up for them.
“They didn’t waste possessions with the lead, and that’s a credit to their coach and players. Whoever has to play them next is going to have their hands full.”
Jaylin Hunter and Joe Reilly each scored 21 points for the Eagles (23-0), who will play No. 6 Windsor High (20-3) for the title on Saturday at 8:15 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Coming out of its timeout, East Catholic scored on its next six possessions, and Hunter, who had already buried a pair of three-pointers, showed off his quickness with three driving baskets.
Trumbull’s Quentar Taylor (13 points) stopped the 11-0 run with his fourth bucket of the quarter, but Joe Reilly buried a buzzer-beating three and East Catholic took a 23-16 lead into the second period.
Timmond Williams (21 points) opened the frame with a three off a kickout pass from Evan Gutkowski, but a 7-0 run took the score to 30-19.
Gutkowski made a jumper and Brown (12 points) scored in transition.
Taylor’s strong drive made it a seven-point margin. East Catholic then scored nine of the next 11 points and went to the locker room on top, 41-27.
“That’s why they are number one,” Bray said. “They executed their game plan. There are a great team and Luke Reilly is a great coach. They have three players that can score the ball, but they also share. Their spacing on breaks was excellent.”
Trumbull’s balanced attack was in place after intermission, with Brown (six points), Mileeq Green (five points), Williams (four), along with Gutkowski and Taylor scoring baskets.
Matt Knowling went off for seven markers of his own, and the margin was still at 14 (58-46) after three quarters.
Knowling carried his strong play into the final period with consecutive hoops.
Williams, who would score eight points in the last quarter, made a pair from the line.
East Catholic then ended the game on a 24-10 run by scoring on 11 of 12 possessions.
Green had eight rebounds. Gutkowski and Williams had six each.
Taylor dished out four assists and Brown balanced out the stat sheet with two steals, two assists, two boards and a couple of blocked shots.
“I’m proud of me kids, my coaching staff, and the way our community and students were there to support us,” Bray said. “We lost one game to a better team tonight. That can’t take away what these kids have accomplished. Basketball is important in Trumbull and these town kids put their heart out there for me. Our season is over, but in our locker room are seven seniors that I’m very proud of.”
EAST CATHOLIC 86, TRUMBULL 58
(at New Haven)
Mileeq Green 2 0-0 5, Dylan Palinkas 0 2-4 2, Chris Brown 6 0-2 12, Timmond Williams 7 5-5 22, Evan Gutowski 2 0-0 4, Quentar Taylor 7 0-0 13. Totals 24 7-11 58.
EAST CATHOLIC (86)
Joey Reilly 9 4-6 24, Chris Jones 5 1-2 11, Frank Mozzicato 1 0-0 3, Matt Knowling 6 4-4 16, Jaylin Hunter 10 0-0 24, Matt Byam 1 1-2 3, Cooper Limric 1 0-0 2, Sam Walsh 1 1-2 3. Totals 34 11-16 86.
TRUMBULL 16 11 19 10 — 58
EAST CATHOLIC 23 18 17 23 — 86
Records: T 20-5; EC 26-1.