CIAC L and LL Belong to Maloney and Crosby
There were some familiar faces in Saturday night’s championship games as Maloney was playing in their second straight final, while Crosby and Trinity Catholic were both making their third appearance in the last five years.
Maloney Avenges Last Year’s Loss in Class L Final
Maloney (Meriden, Connecticut) has plenty of experience competing for a state championship in Gampel Pavilion after last season’s undefeated season came to a screeching halt at the hands of Weaver (Hartford, Connecticut). However, this year was different. Utilizing their experience, Head Coach Howie Hewitt’s team was able to pull away from Lyman Hall (Wallingford, Connecticut) down the stretch and secure a 52-46 win.
Rashamell Vereen earned MVP honors while scoring 22 points. The quick point guard did his best work with his dribble pull-up although he also got all the way to the rim on occasion as well. Johrone Bunch was also crucial to the efforts as he had two huge three pointers during the decisive third quarter.
Dan Weidmann led Lyman Hall with 14 featuring deep three-pointers and a couple of lay-ups coming off of back door cuts. Sophomore big man Jefferson Lora had 13 and Jim Economopoulus 11. For Lyman Hall the loss ends what may be the best comeback story in New England. After going 1-19 last season, the Trojans added Lora and returned Zach Russo, who had missed all of last season with an ACL injury. This year they advanced all the way to the state finals, knocking off top seeded and previously undefeated Wilbur Cross (New Haven, Connecticut) in the process.
Balanced Attack Leads Crosby to Class LL Title
Crosby (Waterbury, Connecticut) vs. Trinity Catholic (Stamford, Connecticut) was billed as an individual match-up between two of the CIAC’s best players, B.J. Monteiro and Tevin Baskin. While Baskin was the most dominant player on the floor Saturday night, Monteiro got more help from his teammates and consequently earned the championship.
For his part, Baskin was at the top of his game. He scored 35 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and made a variety of highlight plays including several explosive dunks, two silky smooth drives down the right wing before gliding in for lay-ups, blocked shots with both hands, and some impressive passes off the dribble.
While Monteiro was solid throughout, this was far from his best individual performance. He struggled to find many clean looks to start the game, but to his credit he adjusted his attack and began to find other ways to impact the game. He got going with two offensive put backs as he was all over the offensive glass, and Crosby’s leading overall rebounder. Then he imposed his will on the defensive end as he began flying into passing lanes and coming up with numerous steals. Now finding himself in a better rhythm, be began to showcase his improved versatility on the offensive end. While he still made some of his patented drives to the basket, he also used his size to post up smaller defenders. But he wasn’t just creating his own shot as he threw some pretty passes from both spots. Ultimately, Monteiro finished with 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists.
But what turned out to be his most important stat were his 5 personal fouls that sent him to the bench with over two minutes to play. In a poor decision, Monteiro went up to contest a Baskin dunk coming from the short corner. Not only did Baskin throw the ball down over Monteiro for the three-point play, but it also fouled Monteiro out of the game. Trinity went on a quick 4-0 run in the next 20 second to cut the lead to 68-66. But then Lavar Moore and Anthony Ireland stepped up.
The duo had been at their best throughout the day. Moore was knocking down open looks from behind the arc and even using his strong body to get into the lane and finish. Meanwhile Ireland was dominating his match-up with Trinity Catholic point guard Eric Jean-Guillaume, as he showed great poise and decision making skills running the offense and creating his own shot when the opportunity presented itself. Now with Monteiro sent to the bench, they both had opportunities to solidify their big performances. Moore scored two straight buckets to push Crosby’s lead back up to 6 with a driving runner from the wing and then a gliding lay-up coming off a perfectly executing break of Trinity’s full court pressure. Then it was Ireland’s turn as he went 4-4 from the free-throw line in the game’s final 30 seconds to ice the victory. Both players finished the game with 24 points.
This was the third time in the last five years that Crosby and Trinity Catholic have met in the state finals. Saturday’s win was the second for Crosby while Trinity Catholic has one of their own and five since 1996.