Bloomfield and Stratford Take First Two Titles of the Day
It was an exciting start to the day for high school basketball fans in Connecticut as the CIAC crowned their first two champions. The Class L and LL finals will be played tonight at the University of Connecticut’s Gampel Pavilion.
Bloomfield Takes Class S
Bloomfield Head Coach Gary Barcher told the television news reporters before the game that his team planned to attack Kolbe Cathedral’s patented full court pressure…and attack they did as Bloomfield scored 78 points en route to winning the fifth state championship in school history.
After a first quarter that was characterized by turnovers from both teams, Bloomfield settled down and began to make better decisions with the basketball. They led the game by as many as 16 at three different times in the second half, although Kolbe would continue to battle back. After Andrae Beckford converted a three-point play inside, Bloomfield’s lead had been cut to three with just under a minute to play in the game. But Bloomfield would convert on a home run style inbounds play and then have Rashad Moore ice the game at the free-throw line 78-71.
For Moore (22 points), today’s championship game was a bit of a coming out party for the sophomore swingman. The lefty was able to balance being aggressive with his dribble penetration while still playing under control. Utilizing his high release point he scored consistently from 8-10 feet as he showed pull-up jumpers, spin moves, and an excellent ability to finish inside thanks to his willingness to initiate contact with the opposing shot blocker.
Kolbe was led by sophomore Ronnie Underwood who scored 12 points in the third quarter to keep his team close. While junior guard Dominique Langston has undeniable talent, he struggled with his decision making today as he had several turnovers and also forced some low percentage shots. While the loss is no doubt disappointing for Kolbe, who came into the game as the heavy favorite, they will certainly be back next year as both Underwood and Langston will return with an extra year of experience under their belt.
Stratford Scores Comeback Win in Class M
Down by 12 points to start the fourth quarter, Stratford made points up in a hurry as they cut the deficit to only 2 by the six minute mark. It was a surprise to most people in the Detrick Gymnasium as Hartford Public appeared poised to break open the game at several points in the second half. After the two teams traded baskets for the next four minutes, Public maintained a 53-51 lead with 2:30 left on the clock.
That is when Tim Martin stepped up. The senior captain, who has been plagued by an ankle injury all season long, single handedly carried Stratford to the state title. It is ironic that Stratford would rely so strongly upon the performance of one individual since they have been a team who has done it by committee all season long, with no player averaging double digits. Martin’s heroics began when he finished the break with a left handed lay-up, while being fouled, to earn the three-point play and give his team a 54-53 lead with 2:25 on the clock. After getting a stop on their next defensive possession Martin would be sent to the foul line where he calmly sank both free-throws. This is a sequence that would repeat itself several times over as Martin made 7-8 free-throws in the game’s final two minutes and came up with a crucial steal on Hartford’s final offensive possession to solidify a 63-55 victory for Stratford.
Much like Kolbe Cathedral, Hartford Public is a team that will definitely be back next season with Arshad Jackson (junior), Daryl McCoy (junior), Danny Lawhorn (sophomore), and Lamar Burgess (sophomore) all returning. Jackson was particularly impressive today as he led the team in 21 points while putting the ball in the basket in a number of ways. Public graduates two seniors in Rasheem McCoy and Brandon Mann who were both very productive. McCoy was a disciplined floor general who defended well and did a great job of getting the team into their offense and distributing the ball. Meanwhile Mann is a wide-bodied big man who scored around the bucket, made some nice passes from the high post, and blocked shots down the stretch.