Trumbull-Warde game story

Senior swingman Max Garrett poured in a game-high 27 points to power Fairfield Warde past host Trumbull High, 61-54, in an FCIAC matchup on Monday night.

Garrett knocked down 15-of-15 free throws, as the Mustangs (1-1) withstood a second-half charge from Trumbull (0-2).

Ryan McCabe sank a pair of foul shots to give the Eagles a 48-47 lead with 3:18 left to play, but Warde closed out the game on a 14-6 run — bolstered by eight points from Garrett.

“I think we used a lot of energy trying to get back into the game,” Eagles’ coach Buddy Bray said. “The kids showed some heart though, a young team.”

Freshman guard Matt Turner came off the bench to score 16 points, all in the second half, for Trumbull.

“We know Matt is going to be a special player,” Bray said. “He hit some big shots.”

Trumbull’s sophomore forward Rashard Rodriguez notched a team-high 17 points, while Jake Levison added 12 and nine rebounds.

Terrance Walden scored nine points for the Mustangs, while Nick Cotto chipped in with eight and six rebounds off of the bench.

After McCabe’s foul shots gave Trumbull its first lead since the first quarter, Warde’s Michael Pehota drove in for a layup with 3:04 left to play.

Garrett hit a pull-up jumper and Walden sank a free throw to make it 52-48, leading to a Mustang timeout with 2:27 remaining.

Levison converted a putback for the Eagles, narrowing the gap to 52-50, before Walden missed the front end of a one-and-one.

Trumbull came up empty on its ensuing possession and Garrett knocked down both ends of a one-and-one to make it 54-50 with 55 seconds left to play.

Warde was 7-of-8 from the line down the stretch, with Cotto scoring on a run-out basket in between, to nail down its first victory of the season.

Offensive balance and poor free-throw shooting was an issue for Trumbull. The Eagles made just 9-of-19 free-throw attempts and became reliant on the three-point shot.

They sank eight two-point field goals and nine three-pointers, but connected at a healthy 39 percent (9-for-23) rate from beyond the arc.

Rodriguez and McCabe hit threes to give Trumbull an early 7-6 edge, before Brian Kerrigan scored on a putback to tie the game at 12 at the end of the first quarter.

Hunter Smaldone buried a 3-pointer from the right wing to kick off the second period, igniting an 11-4 Mustang run. Garrett had an old-fashioned three-point play and a jumper from beyond the arc during the stretch, while Pehota muscled in a putback.

Rodriguez, who scored 12 of Trumbull’s 21 first-half markers, then reeled off seven points to pull the Eagles within 23-21.

The Mustangs closed out the half with a 7-0 burst that saw Walden drill a 3-pointer with two seconds left to stake Warde to a 30-21 edge.

“We have to work harder on our show and on defensive principles,” Bray said. “They made baskets when they needed to.”

Mark Byrne’s jumper pushed Warde’s lead to 35-24, its largest of the game, before Turner shot Trumbull back into the game.

Turner canned a 3-pointer from the top of the key to cut the Eagles’ margin to 35-27 and Walden countered with a layup on the other end.

Another three from Turner got Trumbull within 37-30, before Smaldone sank a runner along the baseline.

Turner’s third triple of the stanza and a putback from Rodriguez sliced Warde’s lead to 39-35 heading into the final frame.

A 13-5 Eagle flurry, capped by McCabe’s brace of free throws, gave Trumbull a one-point edge, to set up the frenetic finish.

“They’re working hard,” Bray said. “Warde was the better team down the stretch.”

Trumbull opened its season with a 30-25 loss to Fairfield Ludlowe on Wednesday. McCabe scored seven points for the Eagles.