Boys basketball: Trumbull defeats Staples on Pfohl's shot

Trumbull High's J.J. Pfohl beat the buzzer with a basket to give his Eagles the win. — David G. Whitham photo
Trumbull High's J.J. Pfohl beat the buzzer with a basket to give his Eagles the win. — David G. Whitham photo

J.J. Pfohl came off a screen and buried a baseline jumper off the bounce to give Trumbull High a buzzer-beating 52-50 victory over Staples High in FCIAC boys basketball action in Westport on Friday night.

“Great job by J.J.,” Trumbull coach Buddy Bray said of his senior’s performance. “He got two nice staggered screens, came off it clean took a hard dribble and got a difficult shot. He has the heart of a warrior.”

Pfohl finished with 19 points, including the game’s final five markers, as Trumbull improved to 8-1 overall and 4-1 in the FCIAC.

“Pfohl hit a heckuva shot to win it,” said Staples coach Colin Devine, whose Wreckers are 3-6, 1-4 in the FCIAC. “He made a bigger shot after (Max) Sussman hits a three to go up 48-45. He comes down and bangs in a three from twenty-five feet.”

That 3-pointer was Pfohl’s fourth long-range jumper and tied the game for the seventh time at 50-50 with 2:05 remaining.

Staples missed its next trip down and Trumbull called a timeout with 1:11.

It decided to hold the ball for one last shot at winning in regulation.

“We were going to delay it and wait for the last look at eight seconds,” Bray said. “No matter what, we were going to hold the last possession. We felt because we were in the bonus, and the game being such a struggle, so we decided to try and win it right there.”

Pfohl took the pass from Danny Ruchalski, dribbled to the baseline, and arched his shot over a defender.

“My teammates set two fantastic screens to get me open,” Pfohl said. “We had a play for every set (if Staples left its zone and went to man). We always have a go-to play for man or zone. Their zone was very long, they did a great job with everything.

“Our defense led to some easy baskets and that definitely helped us.”

The biggest defensive stop for Trumbull came when Johnny McElroy (11 points) jumped a pass and turned his breakaway into a three-point play to knot the game at 45 with 3:35 remaining.

Sussman nailed his three, but Trumbull’s John Lynch worked hard to score on an offensive rebound.

Staples’ Sean Pritchett (11 points) made two free throws to take the score to 50-47.

Pfohl scored 12 points in the third quarter when Trumbull turned a 19-17 halftime deficit into a 39-37 advantage. Timmond Williams (11 points) hit a 3-pointer and Ruchalski found Evan Gutkowski open inside at the horn.

Justin Seidman led Staples with 17 points.

“I thought the kid Seidman played a fantastic game,” Bray said. “He got to the rim on us, he really hurt us. Credit Staples.”

Devine said, “We held top seed in the league to fifty points. Unfortunately, we came up a little short at the end. We got some key stops. We couldn’t match up man-to-man so we stayed in a zone.”