Trumbull hoopsters win huge FCIAC clash with Stamford
Everything seemed to come together perfectly for head coach Buddy Bray and the rest of the Trumbull High School boys basketball team Wednesday night.
Playing in a key Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference matchup against Stamford High School and retiring former standout player Harold Jensen's jersey at halftime, the Eagles broke the game open in the second quarter and dominated the rest of the way, cruising to a 66-48 victory.
With only two more conference games to play in the regular season, the victory is exactly what Bray and the Eagles needed.
"We beat a very good Stamford team and this is something to build on," Bray said. "This was big for the FCIACs. It was a home game and with the big turnout that we've been getting, you cross your fingers and hope for the best. But our kids came out with a lot of energy. Stamford is very good and has some nice pieces, so this was a great win for us. It was a tough game."
Nobody had a better game than Trumbull's Rashard Rodriguez, as the senior finished with a game-high 26 points and added seven rebounds and six assists. Not to be outdone was fellow senior Eddie McElroy, as he added 19 points and pitched in with four steals.
Senior Billy Brown had a great all-around game, finishing with 15 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots. He also was a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe.
"Eddie played a great all-around game and came through in the second," Bray said. "Rashard is Rashard, but Eddie really really stepped up tonight and knocked down a bunch of key shots and had a few steals. Billy had a great all-around game and I also thought that [Jason] Micalizzi, Chris Lyons, Mike Miller and Frankie [Puglia] off the bench all gave us nice contributions. They know their roles now."
For Stamford, Jay Devito led the way with 16 points, while Giami Carwin added 13 points. Kweshon Askew netted 11 points, while Yancarlos Marte finished with four.
With the victory, Trumbull kept its hopes for a possible FCIAC playoff appearance looking strong. The win upped the team's conference record to 10-6 on the season and knocked down Stamford, who is now also 10-6 in the FCIAC. Bassick, who started the night with 10 conference wins, upended Norwalk Wednesday night.
"We have a non-league game on Friday and then it's two conference games to end the season," Bray said. "We have a big senior night planned for our final home game Monday night and then we play Greenwich on the road. We'll see how it all shakes out. But we need to take it one day at a time. The locker room was very business-like. I think they are at the point where they expect to perform and play. They want it and they're building their confidence up down the stretch."
Against the Black Knights, it was all about the second quarter for the Eagles, as they outscored Stamford 14-3. Leading the way in the quarter was McElroy, as he scored nine of the team's 14 points. Rodriguez sank a three-pointer and Brown scored with a driving layup through the paint.
Just like that, a slim 17-16 lead after one turned into a 31-19 lead at the break.
"I think we started getting better possessions and took better shots," Bray said. "We turned them over a couple of times and that led to easier baskets. We were struggling for a bit, but Eddie came through."
With the Eagles comfortably in front at halftime, they were able to enjoy the halftime festivities at center court. During the break in the action, Trumbull High School honored legendary THS alum Harold Jensen by retiring his old basketball jersey and hanging it up on the wall of the gymnasium.
Jensen played for Trumbull from 1981-83 and won the FCIAC championship for his Eagles. Jensen also played for Villanova University, where he captured the 1985 NCAA National Championship by upsetting Georgetown University.
“This was a nice night and it really worked out well,” Bray said. “I am really happy for the kids. I felt like there was some added pressure on the kids with the retiring of Harold’s jersey. We didn’t want to let him down. This was a long overdue ceremony. To see him, his family and his twins was great. It seemed like a real family atmosphere tonight.”