St. Joseph Cadets fall to Danbury Hatters in nail-biting fashion

In a matchup of two teams needing a victory at the season’s midpoint, the Danbury High boys basketball team defeated St. Joseph High, 69-68, at Vito Montelli Court on Tuesday night.

The Cadets, who fell to 1-8 overall, 0-7 in the FCIAC, and lost their fourth game in a row, had a chance to win after Danbury guard Tysheen McCrea missed a pair of free throws — the second intentionally — with 0.9 seconds left.

But, Joe Mangiamele’s 3/4’s court heave at the buzzer ricochetted off the top of the backboard, and the Hatters escaped Trumbull with a hard-fought victory.

Danbury halted a two-game skid of its own and improved to 7-3 on the season, 6-2 in the FCIAC.

“We can’t Morning Quarterback it now,” St. Joseph head coach Chris Watts said. “The game is over, they are a good team with some pretty good talent. And if they are where they are in our league (second place in the West Division), then where are we? We are right there, we are getting better... But these games have to start turning into victories for us.”

McCrea led the Hatters with 18 points, including 16 in the second half, while Will Orr and Marcus Fox chipped in with 15 apiece. Mike Sulik scored a game-high 20 points for St. Joseph, before fouling out with 3:16 left in the contest.

Omar Telfer notched 15 points and three assists and Tyshon Williams 13 for the Cadets, while sophomore Camren Menefee came off the bench to score 11 and block two shots.

After Sulik picked up his fifth foul with just over three minutes left, McCrea hit both free throws for a 60-55 Hatter advantage.

Baskets from Orr and Fox then staked Danbury to 65-58 edge with 1:39 remaining, before Menefee responded with an three-point play to narrow the gap to 65-61.

Sophomore forward Titus James then missed two foul shots for Danbury, and Telfer drove the lane for a layup on the other end.

“We were banking on hopefully the bigger guys missing,” Watts said. “The bigger guys tend to not shoot free throws as well as the guards. We were looking to foul them there.”

Fox, a bruising sophomore forward, then sandwiched four swished free throws around another layup by Telfer. On the basket, Telfer was fouled but the sophomore couldn’t finish off the three-point play.

“It’s not just the foul shots we missed at the end of the game,” Watts said of his squad’s 20-for-28 performance from the line. “It’s the foul shots we missed throughout the game. They all count.”

Fox’s second brace from the line with 20.8 seconds left put Danbury ahead 69-65, which shrunk back to a point after Aaron Sells drained a 3-pointer from the left wing with 1.6 seconds left.

McCrea’s misses gave the Cadets a puncher’s chance, but Mangiamele’s desperation heave was off target.

St. Joseph trailed 32-20 at the half, when McCrea erupted for 12 third-quarter points — all on 3-pointers — to help the Hatters build a 54-45 advantage heading into the final stanza.

The Cadets kept at it, but trailed for the entire fourth quarter en route to their fourth straight loss.

“No one is packing it in,” Watt said. “I know just by looking at the guys in the locker room that no one is packing it in.

“We are just going to continue to play. It does get to a point where you’ve got to say the moral victories have to turn into real victories... We need to start getting real ‘W’s.’”

The Cadets travel to Ridgefield High (2-8) on Friday night for a 7 p.m. tip.


Unbeaten Norwalk High paid a visit to St. Joseph and left town with an 86-73 win on Friday. Norwalk, led by 22 points from Zaire Wilson and 16 from Roy Kane, is 9-0. Mike Sulik had 23 points, six rebounds and three steals for the Cadets. Joe Mangiamele had 16 points and three steals. Aaron Sells had 14 points.