Trumbull ousted by Academics in CIAC class LL second round
While the Trumbull High School boys basketball team was able to get the early lead on Hillhouse during the second round of the class LL tournament Wednesday night, the Academics dominated the competition in the second quarter and bumped the Eagles from the postseason with a 73-61 victory.
"They push the tempo and get you out of your sets," Trumbull High School head coach Buddy Bray said. "I credit my kids because they really played hard all season and I am extremely proud of them. It was an emotional locker room because I have seven seniors and I told them to walk out of here with their heads high because they had a great season. It was an absolute pleasure to coach."
For Trumbull, Rashard Rodriguez finished the game with a team-high 24 points. Billy Brown added 10 points, while Eddie McElroy was held to only 10 points.
The Academics were paced by the duo of Troy Walters and Dontell Glover, as the both finished with a 21 points. Not to be outdone was Christiaw Adams who pitched in with 14 points.
"They are a good basketball team," Hillhouse head coach Renard Sutton said. "They beat a lot of credible basketball clubs as well. Hats off to them. We never saw them, so we had to get a chance to feel them out. They play the same style as we do."
Trailing early in the contest 10-4, Trumbull came storming back, courtesy of a 13-2 run. With 4:32 left in the quarter, McElroy started the streak with back-t0-back three-pointers to tie the game at 10. Brown gave the Eagles the 12-10 lead with a layup inside the paint.
After Adams was able to give Hillhouse two points on an offensive rebound and putback, Chris Lyons kept the good times rolling for THS with two fouls shots and Rodriguez finished the run with a deep three-pointer with 1:18 to play in the quarter that gave the Eagles the 17-12 lead.
However the lead was short-lived for Trumbull, as the Academics scored in a fast and furious pace to start the second.
After Trumbull's Rodriguez started the quarter with a three-pointer to give THS the 20-14 lead, Walters responded with a three-pointer of his own and Joey Kasperzyk hit the coast-to-coast layup.
Glover followed that with a steal, layup and was fouled on the play. Although he missed the foul shot, the Academics grabbed the offensive rebound and Walters went in for the easy layup to give Hillhouse the 23-20 advance.
Walters then stepped back and calmly drained the three-pointer with 5:20 to play to make the score 26-20 and Glover hit the layup underneath on Hillhouse's next possession.
"Their speed is tough to simulate in practice," Bray said. "Good team speed and they kind of just keep coming. They really play hard for 32 minutes. I thought we did a nice job there in the first quarter. We got the tempo in our favor and had nice shots, but the offensive rebounding and missed free throws. They were a step quicker than us to a lot of loose balls and second shots and I thought those were the things that were difference in the basketball game."
With 3:57 to play in the half, Rodriguez stopped the Hillhouse scoring frenzy with back-to-back layups, but Glover drained the jumper and Walters hit his two foul shots to make the score 32-24 with 2:39 left.
"The pressure defense is what led to our offense," Sutton said. "We tried to keep running at them. They are a good team, but they are not too deep, so I tried to keep fresh legs and turn up the defensive pressure. That's how we score. We are young at the guard slot, so we try and put pressure on the opponents and see if we could try and force them to turn the ball over."
With the loss, the Eagles finished the season with a 16-8 record and also saw talented seniors Rodriguez, McElroy, Brown, Brandon Owen, Michael Miller, Frank Puglia and Jason Micalizzi play their final game in a Trumbull uniform.
"They changed the culture of our basketball team a little bit," Bray said. "We went for a deep run in the FCIAC and had a nice little run here at the state tournament. My seniors lead by example and the younger kids know what kind of kids that are. They've been great. I am really going to miss them. They are quality kids, understood their roles, came to practice every day and worked hard and are good students."