St. Joseph-Bridgeport Central revisited

Tyler Ancrum scored 28 points, powering the fourth-seeded Bridgeport Central boys basketball team to a 70-67 victory over top-seeded St. Joseph in the FCIAC quarterfinals at Fairfield Warde on Tuesday night.

The junior point guard, who scored 15 points in the first half, knocked down some key free throws down the stretch to help the Hilltoppers (18-4) hold off the Cadets (20-2).

“We tried to throw multiple defenses at them,” St. Joseph coach Chris Watts said. “He (Ancrum) was able to get the edge and help his team win.”

Central will face second-seeded Trinity Catholic (21-1) in the FCIAC finals on Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Warde.

Ancrum made one out of two from the line with 15.3 seconds left, staking Central to a 68-64 edge, before Jonny Dzurenda drained a 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds left to make it a one-point game.

Hilltoppers’ reserve Orhan Cenunjanin was fouled on the ensuing inbounds’ play, and the junior center made both free throws to provide the final margin.

St. Joseph had a chance to tie, but freshman Rich Kelly’s heave from inside halfcourt was off target. With the loss, the Cadets’ 14-game winning streak came to an end.

Quincy McKnight led St. Joseph with 22 points, before fouling out with 2:53 left to play. Dzurenda chipped in with 16 points and Jake Pelletier 12.

ShaQuan Bretoux added 19 points for the Hilltoppers, while Antoin Pettway had 10.

“I’m not going to sit here like some coaches and say we didn’t shoot the ball well, or we didn’t play defense. We got beat,” Watts said.

Bretoux’s runner, coming on the heels of Pettway’s layup off an assist from Ancrum, gave Central a 60-56 midway through the fourth quarter

With 3:30 left, McKnight was hit with a technical foul after he was whistled for a blocking foul on a driving Ancrum.

Ancrum missed the first set of foul shots, but connected on the next two, pushing the Hilltoppers’ lead to 62-56.

McKnight then fouled out attempting to seal off Ancrum along the sideline, with the junior guard making the front end of a one-and-one.

Dzurenda and Erick Langston combined to make three of four from the line to get St. Joseph back within 63-59, but Ancrum got to the rim for a lay-in.

Raekwon Reid knocked down a brace of free throws, before Ancrum made an uncharacteristic mistake — stepping out of bounds — to give possession back to the Cadets.

They failed to capitalize on the offensive end, and Pettway converted another feed from Ancrum to make it 67-61 with under a minute to play.

Reid hit a 3-pointer on the other end after two missed free throws from Central’s Marcus Blackwell, but Ancrum was able rattle one in to make it a two-possession game with just over 15 seconds left.

From there, the Hilltoppers held on to eliminate St. Joseph from the FCIACs for the second year in a row.

The teams traded baskets to start the game, with Central using a 9-4 run to grab an early 18-12 edge.

St. Joseph countered with a 15-0 burst that stretched into the second quarter, capped off by a Langston layup that gave the Cadets a 27-18 advantage.

Bretoux then responded with consecutive baskets, igniting a 19-7 Hilltopper flurry that put them on top, 37-34, at half.

Bolstered by seven points from McKnight in the third quarter, the Cadets battled back to take a 53-52 lead into the final frame.

St. Joseph now sets its sights on the Class LL state tournament, where the Cadets are the two-time defending champs.

“We’ll all wake up tomorrow and we’ll all get right back at it,” Watts said. “There’s a bigger goal now to obtain. That’s winning a state championship.”

St. Joseph is seeded third and has a bye to the second round, where it will host either 14th-seeded Amity of Woodbridge (15-5) or Xavier of Middletown (13-7) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6.