Trojans rally to beat Bunnell
Updated 12:23 am, Friday, February 24, 2012
The resilient Weston boys basketball team enters the SWC tournament on a roll.
Weston closed out the regular season with its fourth straight win, a 63-61 verdict at Bunnell Tuesday on senior captain Lyle Mitchell's putback off the offensive glass with 7.2 seconds remaining in the game.
"I have long arms, and I got the ball," said the 6-4, 185-pound Mitchell, who got the offensive rebound over Bulldog sophomore Isaac Vann (11 points). "I then out-faked him, and he bought it. I didn't think it would go in, but luckily, it did."
The Trojans raised their record to 12-8, 8-6 in the SWC. They are the sixth seed in the SWC tournament, and will play third-seeded Notre Dame of Fairfield tomorrow at noon at Masuk.
Bunnell dropped to 12-8, 11-3, and is the fourth-seed in the SWC tournament. The Bulldogs are the fourth seed, and they will play Brookfield tomorrow at 5 p.m. at Masuk.
For most of the game, it looked like Bunnell was going to win, and be tied with Notre Dame and Kolbe Cathedral for second place.
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Despite falling behind, Weston showed a never say die attitude in the second half, and grabbed its second comeback victory during its streak. This was also the Trojans' second win over an SWC playoff team during their surge. Weston saddled 19-1 Immaculate with its only loss of the season.
"We came out to play in the second half," Trojans coach Mike Hvizdo said. "We played in your face basketball. We were patient in the second half on offense, which we weren't in the first half."
The Bulldogs took a 10-9 lead on junior Matt Nolting's layup with 4:00 left in the first quarter, and they remained in front until the fourth quarter. Their lead peaked at 16, 31-15 with 3:49 to go in the half. Nolting led Bunnell with 16 points, including two 3-pointers.
Weston cut the deficit to 11 at the half, 36-25. Senior captain Max Molinsky and sophomore Troy Flynn each hit 3-pointers to help the Trojans inch closer. Sophomore Erik Dammen-Brower (five points, three rebounds, two steals) hit a layup for Weston before the half.
Mitchell had a rough first half with only two points and one rebound. The 6-3 Vann and 6-2 junior Adam Samuel (seven points) outplayed him in the paint, but in the second half, Mitchell (two blocked shots, one assist, one steal) elevated his game, finishing the night with 16 points and 14 rebounds.
"We came out flat because it was their senior night," Mitchell said. "The long introductions threw us off, but that's not an excuse. Coach gave us a speech at halftime, and got us going."
Flynn (14 points, three assists, two rebounds, one tieup) hit two 3-pointers to start the half, and cut the deficit to seven, 38-31. Overall, he had three treys.
"I was trying to get the team back in the game as best I could, I had open shots, and I took them," Flynn said. "I credit my coach for believing in me, and putting me in. I credit Max and [junior] Charlie [DiPasquale] for getting me the ball."
DiPasquale (10 points, three rebounds, three assists) swished a 3-pointer to make it a six-point game, 40-34, and followed up with a steal. Overall, he had two treys.
Molinsky (10 points, five assists) created opportunities on offense. He drove inside for a layup, and had two assists in the third quarter.
"I took whatever opening Bunnell gave me," Molinsky said. "I tried to penetrate inside, I had shooters in the corner and Lyle inside, and I was able to get them the ball."
Mitchell's jumper cut the lead to one, 44-43 with 1:39 to go in the quarter. Nolting's layup pushed the Bulldogs' lead back up to four, 47-43, after three quarters.
Despite Bunnell scoring the last three points of the quarter, Hvizdo sensed the momentum still belonged to the Trojans. He conveyed his thoughts in the huddle to encourage his charges.
"I noticed Bunnell walked to their huddle, and we ran to ours," Hvizdo said. "I sensed they didn't want it, and I used it to fuel my guys."
It worked. DiPasquale swished a 3-pointer to start the final quarter. Weston took its first lead since the first quarter on senior captain Evan Blitzer's (five points) layup with 4:36 remaining in the game, making it 53-52.
Bunnell reclaimed the lead on two straight layups, but Mitchell countered with a putback to pull the Trojans within one. Flynn (one steal, one charge drawn, three forced turnovers) then had two straight defensive plays. He first drew a charge, and on the next possession, forced a traveling violation.
"We all played good help defense, and it made it easier to move," Flynn said.
Following the travel, he gave Weston a 59-56 lead with a 3-point play.
Senior Tim White (eight points) tied it with a 3-pointer for the Bulldogs.
However, Mitchell had nine points in the fourth quarter, most coming off of putbacks.
"I think I wore down the kid, and I finally picked up my energy," Mitchell said. "Coach works with the big players in practice on rebounding and it helps."
Molinsky said, "Lyle saved us on the boards down the stretch."
"I hope we can take our momentum into Saturday's game," Mitchell said.