Role playing key to Trumbull's success

“This is a good win for us and the kids are beginning to believe more and more,” Trumbull High boys basketball coach Buddy Bray said after his Eagles defeated visiting Fairfield Ludlowe, 61-54, on Jan. 6.

“Rashard (Rodriguez) and Matt (Turner) gives us two great options, we had nice contributions up front, and we’re getting hustle plays off the bench. I’m proud of their effort.”

Rodriguez, who scored 27 points as Trumbull improved to 2-2, agreed.

“We realize we have to do everything as a team,” the 6-2 junior guard said. “We all have roles, everyone knows their role, and we have great chemistry as a team.”

Turner, a 6-1 sophomore backcourt ace who had 24 points, said:

“It’s not just about scoring points, it’s about using all of your talents. Playing those roles are the backbone of this team.”

The Eagles ran their way to a 19-6 lead in the first quarter, before coach John Dailey’s Falcons shot themselves back into the game.

“We had a chance to put the game away, but you can’t say that (with confidence) in the FCIAC,” Bray said.

Dailey said, “In the second half we made a couple of runs and our guys never quit. This is our fifth game like this. We have to find a way not to get into such a big hole early.

Rodriguez scored eight points and Turner seven in the opening period for the Eagles, who took a 19-10 lead into the second quarter.

“Rashard and Matt made shots, contested shots a lot of the time, and certainly made things difficult for us,” Dailey said.

Ludlowe won the second period, 14-12, with Matt Doyle scoring seven points of his 12 points in the frame.

Jack Armstrong and Darren Lee hit big 3-pointers for the Falcons, but Trumbull answered with treys from Turner and Rodriguez.

A great drive off a ball fake by the Falcons’ Chad Peterson (12 points) made it a five-point game, before Turner kept the ball and made a last-second jumper to give the Eagles a 31-24 lead at the half.

Rodriguez opened the third quarter with an elbow jumper and added a pull-up basket from the key.

Doyle made a runner and a jumper to get Ludlowe within 35-30, but a blocked shot by Rodriguez let to a pair of Eddie McElroy free throws, and on the Eagles next possession, Turner buried a fall-away jumper.

That began a stretch of five straight scoring trips down the court by the Eagles, who stretched their lead to 47-31 with 2:30 remaining in the third quarter.

Turner made a pair from the stripe and assisted on McElroy’s trey, before Rodriguez scored a 15-footer.

Hayes Kelchner’s three-point play ended Trumbull’s 12-1 run, but the Eagles took a 49-34 lead into the final period.

It was Ludlowe’s time to rally.

Doyle fed Kevin Hickey inside and Dailey’s boys sprung a trapping defense that led to a driving hoop by Mark Malone.

Malone, who scored all 10 of his points in the final stanza, then knocked down a trey off an assist from Doyle and the 7-0 run sent the Eagles into a timeout.

“We expected a run and that Doyle showed me a nice mid-range jump shot that you don’t see much of any more,” Bray said. “He gets his shot off quick.”

Peterson scored in transition, and on the next trip a pair of free throws. The Eagles’ lead was down to 49-45.

Trumbull’s Billy Brown found Rodriguez in the corner for a much-needed 3-pointer with 4:25 on the clock, but Ludlowe kept coming.

Lee scored on a putback and Doyle’s one-handed pass on the run to Peterson for a layup brought the score to 52-49 with three minutes still to be played.

Turner made a pair from the line, before he and Chris Lyons did some trapping of their own to force a turnover.

Ludlowe got the back, however, when Peterson’s tight coverage brought out a five-second violation.

Malone’s 3-pointer from the wing off one of Doyle’s eight assists drew Ludlowe within 54-52 with 1:01 remaining.

Malone showed off his great first step to get a lane for a bucket, but Rodriguez made four free throws around the basket.

A traveling violation on Ludlowe with 21 seconds left led to a Brown free throw, and after blocking a shot, Turner completed the scoring with a breakaway basket.

“It came down to making some key free throws,” said Bray, whose Eagles were 14-for-18 from the stripe.

McElroy knocked down four 3-pointers when Trumbull defeated Danbury, 63-46, on Tuesday.