Boys basketball: St. Joseph stuns Stamford in overtime

St. Joseph’s Paul Fabbri took a pass from Dan Tobin just inside the front court off an inbounds play that began 84-feet away with 3.8 seconds remaining.

A junior, Fabbri  went over a defender and put the ball in off the glass to beat the buzzer and Stamford High, 75-74, in overtime at Vito Montelli Court in Trumbull on Friday night.

“We run that exact play at every practice,” said Fabbri, who curled his way around the lane to get open. “No one panicked in the huddle. Coach drew it up and we all knew what we had to do.”

With the victory, first-year coach Kevin Wielk’s Cadets improved to 8-3 to qualify for the state tournament.

St. Joseph is now 7-3 in FCIAC play. It finished 4-16 last season.

“We run a bunch of different scenarios — four seconds, twelve seconds — on our inbounds,” Wielk said. “I believe the experience with my guys getting varsity minutes last season paid off. Paul has a high basketball IQ. He doesn’t get flustered.”

Fabbri’s winning bucket began with Stephen Paolini’s 46-foot pass to Tobin, who skied over a defender and one-timed the ball to the cutting Fabbri.

“It was a hard-fought game,” Stamford coach Zach Smith said. “It is tough to get a road win in the FCIAC. It was a familiar situation...We’ve had three games like this and we need to figure it out. We played as hard as we needed to win. My message to the players was that we have to execute better.”

Danny Simms tipped in missed shot to give the Black Knights a 74-73 lead in the final stages of the extra session. Paolini’s free throw had tied the at 66-all to force OT.

St. Joseph was efficient with its possessions for the first six minutes of the opening period and surged to a 21-14 advantage. Tobin had five points and two assists. Fabbri had five points and Paolini four.

Stamford (7-6 overall, 4-5 FCIAC) called off its press in the final minute of the quarter, but not its play on the ball.

Steals from Manny Azolin, Jay Jaudon and Rasheed Constant led to the final six points in the frame.

“A key for us is rebounding,” Wielk said. “We did that to get the lead early, but in the second period it was Stamford rebounding. They are tough and never gave up.”

The Black Knights owned the second period, 22-12.

The electric Jaden Bell showing off his ability off the dribble and with his jump shot to score 10 of those points, including two long-range baskets. Jaudon had eight.

After intermission, a drive by Bell took the margin to 13 points, but St. Joseph slowly crept back.

Brendan Kade had two of his six blocked shots. Tobin and Tyler Dubose battled for boards.

The Cadets, with Paolini making consecutive buckets, scored on 5-of-6 possessions to end the frame.

Tobin made the extra pass to Kade, who buried a three-pointer, to bring the deficit down to 54-53  — and the large student-body section of Cadets to their feet — at the break.

Simms drew a charge on Paolini to open the fourth quarter, and St. Joe’s leading scorer had to go to the bench with his fourth foul with 7:08 left in regulation.

Kade knocked down a three, and Jason James turned a steal into a layup at the four-minute mark.

Stamford extended its lead to 65--58 at 3:19 on Jaudon’s hard-working putback after Kade blocked back-to-back shots.

St. Joseph answered with a pair of Fabbri free throws and a basket from Paolini, Paolini, who reentered the game at the 4:08 mark.

Simms was rewarded for his diving save of a ball going out of bounds with a made free throw.

The unflappable Fabbri drained a three from way deep to bring his club within one.

Paolini’s freebie then knotted the game for the fifth time at 66.


Stamford (7-6, 4-5 FCIAC)

Josh Thervil 2 0-0 5, Tyheim Burgess 0 0-0 0, Danny Simms 3 6-7 12, Rasheed Constant 4 4-4 13, Jaden Bell 12 2-3 28, Jay Jaudon 7 0-1 14, Manny Azolim 1 0-2 2.

Totals:  29 12-17 74.

St. Joseph (8-3, 7-2 FCIAC)

Dan Tobin 3 5-6 11, Stephen Paolini 8 1-4 17, Paul Fabbri 7 6-7 23, Brendan Kade 5 1-2 14, Jason James 3 0-0 6, Tyler DuBose 2 0-0 4, Kyren Jones 0 0-0 0, Will Diamantis 0 0-0 0.  Totals: 28 13-21 75.

Stamford -   20 22 12 12 8 - 74

St. Joseph - 21 12  20 13 9 - 75

3-Pointers: S-Bell 2, Thervil, Constant; SJ-Fabbri 3, Kade 3