Trumbull bests St. Joe’s in classic at Alumni Hall
FAIRFIELD — Buddy Bray remembers his dad “dragging me out to watch games” at Fairfield University’s Alumni Hall when he was a kid in the 1970s. He competed there when he played at the University of Bridgeport.
And Bray has gotten to coach in the building several times as well at Trumbull High. Friday night will be the last one, an 85-81 win over St. Joseph. Alumni Hall will close its doors next month.
“It’s been one of those places that has had a lot of exciting, great basketball games over the years,” said Bray, who has been coaching the boys basketball team at Trumbull since the 1988-89 season. “I went there for a (basketball) camp as a kid. It’s going to be weird (without the arena).”
The game between Trumbull (9-5, 6-4 FCIAC) and St Joseph (10-3, 9-2) was tied six times in the fourth quarter, the last at 81 on two free throws by Mileeq Green (24 points, 11 rebounds). Quentar Taylor finished with 25 points, including a pair of free throws with 18 seconds left to put the Eagles ahead for good.
Then Green came up with a steal on St. Joseph’s Jason James (26 points, 12 in the fourth quarter). Jake Gruttadauria was fouled and made both free throws with 3 seconds left for Trumbull.
“I waited for him (James) to come to me,” Green said. “I let him think that he got me beat, then I go reach for the steal.”
Said St. Joseph coach Kevin Wielk: “(James) is our point guard, he makes us go and he was driving by them tonight so I was going to give it to him.”
Paul Fabbri led all scorers with 27 points for St. Joseph.
Alumni Hall, which was constructed in 1959, will host its final games next month, setting the stage for the new Arena and Convocation Center to be built. Alumni Hall has been the site of this Trumbull-St. Joseph boys-girls doubleheader since the 2014-15 season.
It’s also been part of an initiative called Playing for a Cure, in conjunction with IAABO Board 9 of Basketball Officials and the Pink Whistle Initiative to benefit the American Cancer Society.
“We try to hype it up for the kids, the history of the place, the fancy locker rooms, the big court,” Bray said. “I was getting text messages from former players who wanted to attend the game.”
Trumbull has won every game since the series moved to Alumni Hall.
Friday’s game was tied four times in the first eight possessions of the final quarter. Another 3-pointer from Trumbull’s Johnny McCain tied it for a fifth time.
St. Joseph led 81-79 when Taylor was fouled by Brian Robertson, who said something in the direction of Taylor before walking away. That earned him his second technical foul — and an ejection. He has to sit out Monday’s game against Fairfield Ludlowe.
“I told him (afterwards), ‘You’ve got to control your emotions. It’s a high-energy game, but you have to control your emotions,” Wielk said.
Taylor missed his two free throws, but Green made the two technical free throws — and the Eagles were able to maintain possession. And Taylor redeemed himself with the two go-ahead free throws with 18 seconds left.
“It’s my senior year. St. Joes is a big game,” Taylor said. “I missed the first two. I was down on myself. I knew I had to come back because it’s not only me out there, it’s my team. I didn’t want to let my teammates down. It was a gut check for me.”
Said Wielk: “We didn’t do a good job of guarding (Taylor). I don’t think he is that hard to guard. We just have to do a better job.”
Taylor hit two 3-point shots and another long jumper to give Trumbull the lead 35-33 with 2:43 left in the second quarter. McCain also hot a pair of 3s in the quarter for the Eagles.
“I can’t shoot. So when I make one, I normally make 10,” Taylor said. “The atmosphere gets everybody going.”
The lead changed hands four times in the third quarter and was tied at 61 heading to the final quarter.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Mileeq Green, Trumbull: Scored 24 points, but it was the steal in the final seconds that helped seal the win for the Eagles.
“Mileeq played his heart out. He makes that steal at the end, that’s Mileeq. That’s been Mileeq since the first day we put hin in the lineup as a freshman. He is so athletic and plays with so much heart out there.” — Trumbull coach Buddy Bray
TRUMBULL 85, ST. JOSEPH 81
TRUMBULL 17 24 20 24 — 85
ST. JOSEPH 18 21 22 20 — 81
Mileeq Green 9 5-6 24, Connor Johnston 2 2-4 6, Cape Holden 2 2-2 6, Johnny McCain 4 0-0 12, Andrew Cutter 1 4-6 6, Jake Geruttadauria 2 2-4 6, Quentar Taylor 7 9-14 25. Totals 27 24-36 85.
ST. JOSEPH (81)
Glenn Manigault 2 2-4 6, Will Diamantis 2 0-0 4, Tommy Shannon 3 0-1 6, Paul Fabbri 5 16-18 27, Jason James 11 4-5 26, Derrick Long 1 0-0 2, Hadyn Gourley 2 0-0 6, Brian Robertson 2 0-0 4. Totals 28 22-28 81.
3-pointers: Trumbull 7 (McCain 4, Taylor 2, Green). SJ 3 (Gourley 2, Fabbri). Technical fouls Robertson 2, Taylor.