St. Joseph boys advance in Division III state tourney
TRUMBULL — February wasn’t a month the St. Joseph boys basketball team will remember with fondness — but it may end up serving as part of the Cadets’ motivation during the CIAC Division III state tournament.
St. Joseph spent the eight days in between postseason tournaments recuperating from the season and preparing for what they hope is another long state tournament run. Things got off on the right note for the seventh-seeded Cadets Monday night with a 78-67 victory over No. 26 Seymour at Vito Montelli Gym.
“I think we needed the rest. We were tired toward the end of the season. We needed to get back our legs. The time off helped us,” St. Joseph coach Kevin Wielk said. “I know some people don’t like (extended time off), but it definitely helped us get fresh.”
St. Joseph (15-7) held a 20-point lead (72-52) midway through the final quarter.
“I think we were a little nervous in the first couple of minutes, but it’s survive and advance,” said Paul Fabbri, who finished with 16 points.
The Cadets advanced to the Division IV state semifinals last season, losing to eventual champion New Canaan. They will host No.10 seed Law on Wednesday night in the second round.
“We got two home games and we definitely have some experience from last year, making it all the way to the semifinals,” Fabbri said. “It’s kind of a redemption run right now. We want to get back to Mohegan (Sun Arena) and win a state championship and put another banner back up here.
“Since freshman year, I’ve had that goal. St. Joes has a great tradition of winning basketball state championships (11) and that’s what I came here to do.”
St. Joseph lost in in the FCIAC tournament quarterfinals on Feb. 29. The loss gave St. Joseph a 3-4 record in February — and the Cadets won their last three regular-season games before the FCIAC tournament.
“They were definitely rarin’ to go,” Wielk said. “It should be a great atmosphere here Wednesday against Law.”
Seymour coach Joe Carrafiello said he tried to find some scrimmages during the 10 days the Wildcats were off, but said he couldn’t line any up.
“I think the layoff hurt a lot of us tonight,” Carrafiello said.
St. Joseph was able to keep Dion Perkins, Seymour’s top scorer, under wraps in the first half. Perkins,who set the school’s single-game scoring mark this season with 48 points, scored just seven.
But Seymour only trailed 45-36 at halftime.
Perkins scored seven more in the third quarter as St. Joseph opened up a 14-point lead (62-48).
Then the Cadets put the Wildcats away with a 10-4 run to begin the final quarter.
“Twenty points could have been 30 easily. I love the way my kids fought,” Carrafiello said. “All year they’ve had stuff go wrong and just kept fighting.”
Seymour was 3-10 at one point and had to win five of its last seven regular-season games to qualify for state tournament play.
Perkins finished with a game-high 20 points.
“He’s the one who makes them go, so we tried to contain him,” Wielk said about Perkins
Player of the Game
Glenn Manigault, St. Joseph: Junior got off to a good start with a pair of 3-pointers in the opening quarter and led four players in double figures with a career-high 18 points.
“As long as all the pieces come back, we should be a very strong team (next season), but still with not a lot of size.” —Seymour coach Joe Carrafiello said.
ST. JOSEPH 78, SEYMOUR 67
SEYMOUR 18 18 12 19—67
ST. JOSEPH 21 24 17 16—78
Dion Perkins 6 4-7 20, Kyle Harmeling 6 1-1 15, Matt Oczkowski 2 2-2 6, Dhruv Kapodia 4 3-4 11, Kevin Harmeling 1 2-2 5, Joe Orlando 3 0-3 6, Chris Seara 0 1-2 1. Totals 22 12-21 67.
ST. JOSEPH (78)
Glenn Manigault 7 2-3 18, Will Diamantis 4 2-2 10, Tommy Shannon 0 2-2 2, Paul Fabbri 6 0-1 16, Jason James 6 3-6 16, Derrick Long 1 0-0 2, Carson Arkay 3 2-4 8, Brian Robertson 3 0-0 6. Totals 30 11-18 78.
3-pointers: Seymour 5 (Perkins 2, Kyle Harmeling 2, Kevin Harmeling); SJ 7 (Fabbri 4, Manigault 2, James). Records: Sey 8-13; SJ 15-7.