Trumbull boys hoops starts strong but falls to Falcons, 46-36

Although the Trumbull High School boys basketball team started strong against Fairfield Ludlowe High School, they were unable to ground the Falcons in the final quarter and were defeated 46-36 Thursday night.

"We just couldn't shoot the basketball," said THS head coach Buddy Bray. "I thought we had good looks, but the kids ran their stuff. We just didn't finish and we didn't score the basketball. Ludlowe plays a really nice tempo to their game and play within themselves. They beat us at their game because we didn't knock down shots. Poor shooting will do that and they ran their stuff."

The Eagles controlled the game early on and built a 12-2 lead to start the game. However the second half was a different story. Trumbull was a disappointing 5-for-26 from the floor in the second half. In fact, a jumper by Ben McCullough with a little over 6:30 to play in the fourth was the final points THS scored.

"It wasn't a real pretty game, for sure," said Fairfield Ludlowe head coach John Dailey. "But we have really prided ourselves in the last few games on our defense, our rebounding and our toughness. At the end of the game, that is what won us the game tonight. We played really well defensively in the fourth quarter. When you're not making shots, it's great when you can find other ways to win."

For Trumbull, Rashard Rodriguez led the way with 13 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. McCullough netted five of his seven points in the fourth quarter and also picked up 10 boards, while Eddie McElroy and Chris Lyons took home six points.

Billy Brown rounded out the scoring with five points, but also was strong on the glass, grabbing five rebounds.

For the Falcons, Chad Peterson led all scorers with 14 points, however 10 of them came at the free throw line. Not to be outdone was Matt Doyle, who tallied 11 points. Hayes Kelchner finished with eight points, while Darren Lee ended his day with five points and Owen Mockler scored three.

The Eagles couldn't have asked for a better way to the start the game. Lyons got the ball off a Rodriguez steal and netted the layup for the 4-0 lead. Again it was Rodriguez who found the Lyons, as he rifled the pass to his favorite target early on and Lyons connected on the reverse layup for the 6-0 lead with 4:12 to play in the first.

After a long jumper by Doyle at the top of the key stopped the bleeding, Trumbull went back on the attack, as Rodriguez hit the next three buckets, including an offensive rebound and putback, as well as as a floater in the lane, for the 12-2 advantage.

"They were playing really good defense," Dailey said. "They were flooding the paint and we weren't getting a lot of easy looks. They were totally taking it to us. We tried to get better shots on offense. I thought we were rushing shots and we really try to stress quality possession. We did that in the second half and the bench did a great job keeping us together in the first half."

The Falcons cut the lead to six in the second quarter and a baseline three by Lee made the score 16-13 with 4:41 left in the half.

In the second half, the Falcons started the contest on a quick 10-2 run, highlighted by back-to-back old-school three-pointers, as both Mockler and Peterson were fouled on their successful field goal attempt and sank their foul shot. However, the Eagles responded when McElroy hit the clutch baseline three to tie the score at 27-27 midway through the third.

"We weren't bad," Bray said. "On the road, you want to get off to a good start and we kind of stressed that. But then we just didn't come out ready. That's two games in a row. We were up 16 against McMahon and we were up five here at the half. We had the lead and the basketball and you want to keep extending that, but we didn't do that because of the poor shooting in the second half."

In the fourth, Trumbull extended its lead back to six, as McCullough netted the team's next four points. But that's when the Fairfield defense took over. With 3:15 to play, Doyle hit the runner in the lane, was fouled and a free throw to make the score 36-33. Peterson connected on the layup and with 3:51 to play he also hit both of his foul shots to give the Falcons the lead for good at 37-36.

A floater by Hayes extended the lead to 39-36.

"I think we ran out of gas at the end," Bray said. "You have to score the ball. We are averaging 70 and have been shooting the ball well. They caught the bye and the last quarter hurt us. We were at McMahon and had a quick turnaround. No excuses though. Ludlowe played an excellent game. They are well-coached and got the ball to the right guys."