AP NEWS

boys basketball Eagles soar to the top

February 22, 2019

DANBURY — With all four FCIAC quarterfinals being played at a neutral site, the battle for a top seed and playoff positioning didn’t figure to mean much to teams locked into the postseason ahead of the final regualr-season games.

That didn’t stop the top two squads in the conference from putting on a classic that might serve as another finals preview.

In a rematch of last season’s FCIAC championship, Trumbull held on to beat Danbury 58-56. The Eagles locked up the top spot in the league tournament — in front a sold-out Hatters crowd — that will begin Saturday at Warde in Fairfield.

It appeared to be heading towards a run-away win for the Eagles, who played stifling defense through three quarters. Danbury dove into its championship mettle and had a chance at a game-winning shot in the finals seconds despite trailing by 20 in the second half.

“You knew they weren’t going to go away,” Trumbull coach Buddy Bray said. “They’re the defending champs and they’re well-coached. We came in at halftime talking about being focused for that next four minutes of the third quarter. They outscored us 14-9 in the third and I said to my assistant this is going to be a heck of a finish.”

Danbury spent the rest of the night playing catch up, and almost did. A 3-point play from Javon Hernandez with 10 seconds left brought Danbury to within a single point at 57-56. Trumbull converted one free throw before a desperation heave by Hernandez under intense Eagles pressure just missed the rim.

“We started playing the right way,” Danbury coach Casey Bock said. “Sharing the ball offensively; I thought in the first half we got a case of Senior Night-itis. We tried to do to much; we settled down in the second half and came back.”

Denali Burton had 21 points for Danbury while Chris Brown added 11 for the Eagles. The tone was set almost immediately as Trumbull — which finished its regular season 17-3 — built a 16-2 lead inside five minutes. Timmond Williams scored 29 points for the Eagles, who led 37-17 early in the third quarter before the game turned for good.

“We kept our composure,” Williams said. “We practice situations like this in practice. We didn’t find it that hard to keep the lead. .. It’s different than practice but we have to maintain what we’re doing and stay with the game plan.”

The win — which gave the Eagles the regular season title — was the fourth in a row ahead of Saturday’s playoffs. Trumbull will face town rival and No. 8 St. Joseph in the quarterfinals while No. 3 Danbury will take on Stamford.

“I’m very proud of this group,” Bray said. “They’ve put in the work; they went to the finals last year without a senior. These guys have been waiting for the next couple of weeks all season.”

CALITRO NIGHT

Current Seattle Seahawk and former Danbury High standout Austin Calitro was honored at halftime of the game by Hatters Athletic Director Chip Salvestrini and former coach Dan Donovan. Prior to the game Calitro signed autographs for students and spoke with the current Danbury football team.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Javon Hernandez, Danbury. Scored 26 points — including eight within 15 seconds late in the game — to give the Hatters hope of completing the comeback.

QUOTABLE

“Of course if you get beat by a team you want to beat them the next time you play them, especially if it’s the FCIAC championship,” Williams said. “We just wanted to make a statement.”

rlacey@bcnnew.com, @ryanlacey11

TRUMBULL 58, DANBURY 56

TRUMBULL (17-3)

Mileeq Green 3 2-3 8 Chris Brown 5 1-1 11 Timmond Williams 10 6-8 29 Evan Gutowski 2 2-2 6 Quentar Taylor 2 0-0 4. Totals: 22 11-16 58

DANBURY (14-6)

Javon Hernandez 9 5-7 26 Keyon Moore 3 1-2 9 Jah Joyner 0 0-2 0 Denali Burton 10 0-1 21 Taylor Heady 0 0-0 0 Marson James 0 0-0 0 Raimir Rivera 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 6-12 56.

TRUMBULL 19 15 9 15 — 58

DANBURY 7 8 14 27 — 56

3-pointers: T—Williams 3; D—Hernandez 3, Moore 2, Burton.