The Trumbull High boys basketball team built a double-digit advantage, saw it evaporate after a fine St. Joseph come back, and then followed Chris Brown’s lead to win a 63-61 decision at Fairfield University’s Alumni Hall on Saturday night.
Brown scored 11 of his 24 points in the final period, when coach Buddy Bray’s Eagles bounced back from a 50-44 deficit entering the frame to capture this annual Officials vs. Cancer game.
“Before I get to the game, I’d like to thank all the parties involved in making this such an exciting event and for such a great cause (the American Cancer Society),” Bray said after Trumbull won for the seventh consecutive game to move to 8-1. “The players look forward, to it, the coaches look forward to it and the fans come out and support each team.
“Chris Brown is a wonderful player. Our bench did a good job giving us good minutes. We got off to great start, but it was a little like fool’s gold. We began to rely on the three. What we needed was to find the seam in the zone, drive to the basket and get to the foul line.”
As important as his offensive prowess was in the contest, Brown’s ability to change the game on the defensive end proved decisive. With Trumbull leading 51-50, he blocked two Cadet shots around a steal that led to a run-out basket. Brown followed with a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws.
“This was a lot of fun playing before everyone here for such a great cause,” Brown said. “Defense is fifty percent of what you need to do on the court; if you don’t play defense as a player you’re missing half the game.”
Coach Paul Dudzinski’s Cadets looked to rally back behind Brendan Kade, who made three 3-pointers in the final two minutes. It was 63-58 when Brown blocked those consecutive shots.
“Trumbull is a very good team; we’re a team that is learning,” Dudzinski said. “I’m very proud of our come back, that was all on the kids. They stick together and keep fighting.”
Trumbull made five 3-pointers in the opening eight minutes and took a 22-10 lead into the second quarter.
Timmond Williams had 11 points of his 14 points and two steals in the period.
Quentar Taylor (14 points) scored eight points behind a pair of ste-back treys and had an assist.
Down 16-6 with three minutes remaining, the Cadets climbed back in behind a bucket from Gavin Greene (18 points) and a deep 3-pointer by Paul Fabbri.
Two straight buckets by Brown took the score to 28-14 and that ran the Cadets into a timeout with 4:47 remaining in the first half.
Greene (13 rebounds) led a St. Joe’s rally, as the sophomore scored six points and Fabbri assisted on Ace Luzietti’s trey. Trumbull’s J.P. Fromageot had a key putback basket, before Fabbri (six assists) drove around a Luzietti screen to score. Greene’s basket in traffic made it 32-27 with 34 seconds left.
The Eagles’ Cape Holden (11 points) hit a 3-pointer off a cross-court pass from Taylor before the half ended and Trumbull took a 35-27 lead into the locker room.
The Cadets’ Will Diamantis had five rebounds in the second quarter and Greene ended the period with 10 points.
St. Joseph’s Dan Tobin provided the energy and tough play the Cadets needed in the third period when they came all the way back to take the lead.
Tobin, a junior tri-captain, kept working hard on every possession and was rewarded for his grit with nine points.
His difficult shot inside off a Jared Grindrod assist gave St. Joe’s its first lead of the game at 38-37 with 4:55 left in the third.
A Taylor freebie knotted the score, but Greene scored off a Grindrod assist and then tallied off a rebound for a four-point lead.
Williams took a kick-out pass from Evan Gutowski and banged home a 3-pointer.
A rebound by Holden led to a break-out three-point play by Brown.
St. Joseph answered with a quick four-pass possession, the last from Brian Dineen locating Luzietti for a 3-pointer and a 46-44 advantage.
Fabbri’s steal and pass to a cutting Tobin took the score to 48-44.
Diamantis’ baseline jumper beat the horn and gave the Cadets a six-point edge with eight minutes to play.
Trumbull regained the lead early in the final quarter on Holden’s trey, Brown’s dribble to the rim, and Holden’s baseline drive that resulted in a three-point play and a 51-50 lead.
Grindrod drew a charging call on Williams at the 6:23 mark. His basket was negated and he was forced to the bench with his fifth foul.
That is when Brown led Trumbull’s tough defensive stance.
“I’ve been coaching against Paul for twenty five years and he always has his team ready,” Bray said. “Credit them for coming back and taking the lead. We had to be ready for a tough game and they gave one to us. This was our third game this week and to get three wins is something my team can be proud of doing.”
Roundup: Greenwich defeated St. Joseph, 50-43, on Friday. Ace Luzietti had 12 points. Gavin Greene had eight points and six rebounds. Jared Grindrod had four steals. Will Diamantis had one charge taken and Ian Argento had two assists.