Boys basketball: Wilton knocks off Trumbull Eagles
The Wilton High boys basketball team used the 3-pointer to take the lead, and ultimately made too many shots from beyond the arc for Trumbull High to overcome, when the Warriors defeated the Eagles, 72-66, in the FCIAC semifinals at Fairfield Warde on Tuesday.
Top-seeded Trumbull (19-3) had come back from a 21-11 deficit to tie the game at 28 going into the half.
The Eagles were within 43-41 with eight minutes to play.
That’s when Andrew Connolly took over for Wilton (17-5).
A 5-foot-10 senior guard, Connolly made consecutive 3-pointers as Wilton established a 57-46 advantage midway through the final period.
Trumbull, led by J.J. Pfohl, twice made it a two-possession game before the Warriors salted away the victory from the foul line.
Fifth-seeded Wilton will meet third-seeded Ridgefield for the title on Thursday. The Tigers defeated Danbury High, 67-63 in double overtime, in the first semifinal game.
“They got the kid Williams back, No. 21,” Trumbull coach Buddy Bray said. “He showed leadership and made some big shots for them.”
Williams finished with 18 points, one shy of Connolly’s 19. Williams had four 3-pointers and Sean Breslin buried three.
“He was upset when he got hurt (in the game and had to come out)," Warrior coach Joel Geriak said of Williams. "I told him, ‘Go back in and take over the game like you know you can.’ He made me look like a genius, but as a senior leader he wanted this game.”
Wilton made 4-of-5 threes in the opening period, and Rob Hermann rebounded home the one miss for a bucket.
Jack Lynch (13 points) was the offensive catalyst for Trumbull in the first stanza, as the senior forward scored five points and had an assist.
The Eagles gained their stride offensively in the second quarter.
Lynch made a strong drive to the hoop, before Danny Ruchulski rebounded a Warrior miss and hit a streaking Timmond Williams (11 points) with the outlet pass. He turned it into a three-point play.
Pfohl (20 points) nailed a jumper and two free throws.
Johnny McElroy (15 points) had a steal and scored on a breakaway.
Jack Williams slowed the march back with a 3-pointer off the dribble and Connolly made a brace of free throws.
Trumbull tied the game on Timmond Williams’ buzzer-beating tip-in.
“We don’t quit,” Geriak said of his team. “We made them work, our depth does that. We kept running bodies at them. They made great run on us in second quarter, give them credit they played better defense. Then we had to answer again in the third.”
McElroy had five points in the third quarter, and Ruchalski made a good find to a cutting Pfohl for a layup.
Lynch buried a long two-pointer from the right corner off a Pfohl assist to tie the game at 41 — the game’s fourth deadlock.
Connolly’s drive through traffic gave Wilton a two-point edge with one quarter remaining.
“They shot the ball well, they hit their free throws down the stretch,” Bray said. “They took care of the basketball. They’re good and moving on.
“Credit our guys, we played hard, but their 1-3-1 gave us some problems early. Tieing it up took a lot of energy out of us. Facing (double digit deficit) a second time in a 32-minute game, well that’s two big runs trying to make up.
“We worked hard to be the No. 1 seed. We earned respect, we played team basketball. I’m proud of the player’s body of work. They did a heckuva job. Wilton played better."