Boys basketball: St. Joseph rebounds way past Trinity Catholic
When covering a game, the writer may draw a line down the middle of his notepad.
On the right is where the scoring is kept — where stars are born.
On the left is for defensive statistics — where games are ultimately decided.
St. Joseph had enough players filling up both sides of the ledger when the Cadets handed Trinity Catholic a 66-48 defeat on the Vito Montelli Court in Trumbull on Friday night.
“We are not tall, so we have to work hard to rebound,” St. Joseph coach Kevin Wielk said. “They had big guys, but tonight it came down to technique, effort, and getting after it.”
The Cadets took a 37-31 lead into the third quarter.
Akim Joseph’s basket for Trinity made it a two-point game two minutes into the period.
That’s when St. Joe’s ramped up its defensive stance.
Six empty Crusader possessions later, the Cadets had a 10-point advantage.
Trinity scored two late hoops to make it 49-41.
Could St. Joseph replicate that ability to hold Trinity to one shot per trip in the final eight minutes?
“I couldn’t believe it when I looked up and saw we held them to seventeen points in the second half,” said St. Joe’s Stephen Paolini, after his team won the final frame 17-7.
“We work hard to play together, get the ball to the open man and never give up on a play.”
Paolini finished with 22 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals.
A senior co-captain, Paolini had consecutive takeaways that led his run-out basket and an assist on Paul Fabbri’s breakaway bucket.
That led a stretch of eight trips down court that saw the Cadets score.
Tyler DuBose plucked three defensive rebounds, and Jared Grindrod helped stop penetration by the Crusaders.
Fabbri made five free throws, assisted on a hoop by Brendan Kade, and Kyren Jones hit a brace of freebies to make it a 61-43 game with six minutes remaining.
The first half saw the FCIAC rivals forge ties on six occasions.
Paolini’s double-pump basket drew a foul, and his three-point play deadlocked the game at 27.
Trinity Catholic never led again.
Paolini drained a step-back 3-pointer.
Jason James then assisted on two hoops, a basket on the block by Jones and a 3-pointer by Fabbri.
Paolini’s jumper from 5-feet out beat the clock and gave St. Joe’s its 37-31 lead at the break.
Paolini scored eight points in the opening period and Kade had five.
Dan Tobin dished out back-to-back assists and Paolini’s cross-over dribble led to a scoop basket in traffic.
Trinity’s Rahsen Fisher scored six in the stanza, including a breakaway basket at the five-second mark for the Crusaders’ first lead at 18-17.
“What I like about the team is how they are playing together top to bottom,” Wielk said. “We need to practice hard everyday, because they are learning a new system. I always say that practices should be harder than a game. These guys love to compete.”
Wielk is in his first season as head coach at St. Joseph. A former Cadet player and a 1995 graduate, Wielk honed his skills the past eight seasons as the assistant coach to Mitch Oliver at Albertus Magnus College.
During that time, the Falcons won seven Great Northeast Athletic Conference championships and earned six trips to the NCAA Division III tournament. They won at least 20 games every season.
St. Joseph will visit visit Bridgeport Central on Thursday, Jan. 3 at 7 p.m.
Trinity will be home to Staples High on Jan. 3 with first tip at 7.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Stephen Paolini finished with 22 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals. He had a hand in it every time the Cadets made a run on the Crusaders.
“Energy is everything,” Paolini said. “We need to play with energy every minute of every game. Rebounding is very important for us. Tonight we had everyone on the court fighting on the boards.”
ST. JOSEPH 66, TRINITY CATHOLIC 48
Trinity Catholic 20 11 10 7 - 48
Saint Joseph 17 20 12 16 - 66
Andrew St. Louis 1 0-0 2, Xavier Ruellano 1 1-2 3, Akim Joseph 8 1-2 17, Ras Fisher 6 1-2 13, Anthony Anderson 3 0-2 7, Matt Hennessey 2 0-0 4, Brian Ceballos 0 0-0 0, Tahj Morgan 0 0-0 0, Brandon Lewis 1 0-2 2
Totals: 22 3-10 48
Steve Paolini 9 2-3 22, Paul Fabbri 3 6-7 14, Brendan Kade 3 0-0 7, Jared Grinrod 1 0-0 2, Dan Tobin 2 0-0 4, Jason James 4 0-0 8, Glenn Manigault 0 2-2 2, Tyler Dubose 1 0-0 2, Kyren Jones 1 2-5 4, Hadyn Gorley 0 0-0 0, Brian Robertson 0 0-0 0, Anthony Rainey 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 24 12-17 66
3-pointers: T-Anderson; SJ-Paolini 2, Fabbri 2, Kade.