Friday night turned out to be fright night for three Bridgeport teams.
Bullard-Havens, expectedly, couldn’t handle John Galvin who had his umpteenth double double of the season in a 54-38 victory in the Class M quarters.
Harding, less expectedly, but not surprisingly, was eliminated by Trinity Catholic, the team everyone expected it to battle for the FCIAC championship last week. The CIAC says the final score was 77-70, strangely. We had it at 77-69, but while I didn’t see referees signal 3-pointer for Johnny Stovall‘s field goal at the buzzer (and why should they? He was inside the line), someone on the scorer’s table must have seen it differently and they turned off the scoreboard before I noticed.
But who cares, Harding was down 23 at one point, cut it to eight with four minutes left but couldn’t defend Tevin Baskin on the other end of the floor in the loss. Sports Illustrated‘s preseason No. 1 team is done. Charoy Bentley‘s great career is over after a sluggish first half, but a strong second. His dad, Charlie Bentley doesn’t have to worry about no commenting us to death for at least 9 months or until he retires. Whichever comes first.
The shocker of the night comes out of Maloney high, where Kolbe Cathedral got a ticket out of the tournament with a 69-64 loss to Sacred Heart of Waterbury.
From what writer David Agostino was telling me, Kolbe Cathedral was hit with nearly a dozen traveling calls and several charges. John Pfohl, who’s notorious for working referees hard during games, but not known for criticizing them in print, went off on the crew at his game, saying they made it exponentially more difficult for his team.
Nevertheless, Kolbe Cathedral didn’t get its usual game from senior T.J. Robinson, whose great career ends with a 22-point effort, and the Cougars couldn’t stop junior guard Bryant Corcoran, who finished with 31 points on all sorts of crazy shots. “He had the game of his life,” Pfohl said.
But then he went nuts on the stripes, which is sure to thrill the Pfohl dissenters out there who thinks he’s out of control most games.
“The three things that frustrated me the most were the three officials in this basketball game,” Pfohl told the Post. “Normally, I would never say anything, but tonight was a travesty. Clearly, Sacred Heart wanted it more than us, and deserved to win, but it felt like we were battling uphill the entire game.
“In my 14 years, I’ve never said anything about officiating, but tonight was ridiculous. I don’t know where they were from, but I never want to see them again. I’m very disappointed that in this type of game, we had to deal with that.”
The critical turnover came in the final minute. After Kolbe lost the ball down one with under a minute left, it got the ball back down two. Dominique Langston, Agostino writes, apparently corralled a loose ball and called time out, but the referees–who appeared to have a bad angle and didn’t see Langston’s motion–awarded a jump ball with possession to Sacred Heart.
It was that kind of night for the Cougars. Now we’ll never see the big rematch with Weston, who can take their SWC title into history without question or challenge.
Now, can Weston take home the state semifinal game over the Hearts? This should be a battle. The winner faces the winner of the other semifinal between Barlow and Waterford.
Yeah, you read that right: Barlow. But I can’t say I’m surprised. Once they got by Hyde, the bracket was going to open up nicely for the Matt Lisi and the Falcons. And it did. Cheney Tech didn’t look like a picnic, but they should have won that game. Lewis Mills wasn’t going to beat them, either.
I know nothing about Waterford, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Barlow take them out to get to the final, which would be amazing… Then they get Weston or Sacred Heart in what I believe could be the most anticlimactic final in the state. But I’ve been wrong before.
So, who’s left around here? Barlow. Weston. And, yes, the Lions of Bassick are the last Bridgeport team standing. Although they have yet to play their quarterfinal. Imagine, state tournament week, and the Lions have only played one game.
They get Windham, which, from what I’m told is a smart half-court basketball team who could be trouble against Jovan Holden and the oftentimes reckless Lions.
The Class LL Final Four is Trinity Catholic vs. Mike Auriemma and East Catholic–that game could go either way–and then Hillhouse vs. Torrington. Hillhouse is going to roll to the title again. They made a decent looking Crosby team look silly I’m told.
Speaking of refs, Torrington took out Danbury in yet another game marred by heavy ref bashing from Danbury coach Tom Pardalis and his players. We haven’t had someone foul out all season,” Pardalis told the News-Times of Danbury. “We normally have fouls to give at the end. It was absurd tonight.”
Getting back to this, what usually happens is that referees get assigned by the state to a game where a board has no real ties to either team (unless they’re from the same conference).
Last night at the Trinity Catholic-Harding game, we had New Haven county board referees, and there didn’t seem to be a problem with referees.
But what can happen is a difference in philosophies. One board may let teams get away with something another won’t. So maybe the guys reffing the Kolbe Cathedral game are usually stricter with their travel calls than Kolbe is used to. And the result can be disaster for a team like Kolbe Cathedral. Not because its anyone’s fault, but because you have two different perspectives suddenly colliding. Did it happen in Danbury’s game, too? Perhaps.
It’s never good to see calls go one way, not this far into the tournament when the quality of both teams are unquestioned. You never want referees to actually factor into a game.
But, as much as it’s disappointing that Kolbe Cathedral never lived up to its high praise this season, the bottom line is you have to play through it, suck it up, and move on if you’re on the losing end. When you get to this point, somebody’s going to have their heart broken. There can only be one champ for every bracket.
Of course, we’re all human, and it’s tough to do that when you’re heart gets broken over something you believe you had no control over.
Now, one more question, and feel free to add your thoughts:
If Trinity beats East, and then Hillhouse, and Bassick goes to the title game and beats Maloney, who’s No. 1? It seems like a longshot scenario, but not out of the realm. Your thoughts, please.