HAMDEN — Bassick senior Qualon Wilkes knows his coaches and teammates expect a lot from him. So, when the Lions trailed by 11 points early in the third quarter, the senior knew exactly what needed to be done.
Leading Bassick on a 28-9 run to close the quarter, Wilkes helped propel the Lions to a 75-71 non-conference victory over Hamden at Hamden High Tuesday evening in a game of top ten teams from the GameTimeCT/Register Poll.
“This (win) means a lot to us,” Wilkes said. “We come to practice and work hard every day. It came down to the wire, but we were able to make our free throws. Today was exactly what Coach (Bernie Lofton) talks about. When we are down, we need to pick each other up. He put it on me and I stepped up.”
Trailing 39-28 after a basket by Hamden’s Jayquan Bromell, No. 4 Bassick started its comeback. A 6-0 run on buckets by Jordan Gallimore, Wilkes and Jaelin Gallimore had the Lions within 41-38 with 4:19 to go in the third quarter.
Wilkes got his team within a pair, before Hamden’s Victor Rosario increased Hamden’s lead to 45-40. The game then changed in an instant.
With No. 6 Hamden up by three points, pushing and shoving ensued under the Hamden basket with 2:26 to go in the third. Before all was said and done, Rosario was disqualified for leaving the bench and players from each team drew technical fouls.
“It was the emotions of the game which got to us,” Hamden coach Jarrad Beck said. “It just created a tidal wave. We stopped it and were able to rally back, but we can’t have that. We need to be mentally tougher.”
Bassick, behind a 3-pointer from Teron Griffin and a basket by Wilkes, went on a 9-0 run to take a 51-45 lead the Lions never relinquished. When Wilkes scored the final three points of the quarter in which the Lions put up 32, Bassick held a 56-48 advantage.
“It was the pace of the game,” Lofton said. “We feel like we can wear out teams with our defense and our offense. We came back at them hard. We started to attack the basket right away. I think we were able to wear them down both ways. We felt they were losing their legs. They were getting good shots, but their legs were not there.”
Bassick (14-1) increased the lead to eight on a basket by Kevin Crawford, but Hamden had a rally of its own coming.
A basket by Hamden’s Jaylen Ricks with 4:10 left had the Green Dragons within four points, before a pair of free throws by Wilkes with 1:40 to put the Lions back up by eight.
The Green Dragons then used a 3-pointer by Douglas Daniels to get within three with 31 seconds to go, and a basket by Ronnie Ellis brought the Green Dragons within 73-71 with 15 seconds remaining.
“We have only played three games at home,” Lofton said. “We have been in every tough gym. We have that ‘whatever it takes mentality.’”
Hamden (16-3) had an opportunity to gain possession after Bassick missed a pair of free throws with eight seconds left, but the Green Dragons were called for a foul and Bassick’s Emery Linton sealed the deal for the Lions with a pair of free throws.
“We did not give up,” Beck said. “This team plays hard. We have been in close games this year. We know what to do. We have to play smarter.”
Crawford led Bassick with 19 points, Wilkes had 16, and Jaelin Gallimore and Linton each had 14 for the Lions, who were 28-of-45 from the free throw line.
Ricks led Hamden with 22 points and Ellis finished with 18 for the Green Dragons in the loss.
Bassick 75, Hamden 71
BASSICK14 12 29 20—75
HAMDEN11 19 18 23—71
Qualon Wilkes 4 8-11 16, Teron Griffin 2 1-4 6, Jordan Gallimore 2 0-0 4, Jaelin Gallimore 6 2-4 14, Kevin Crawford 5 9-16 19, Emery Linton 3 8-10 14, Isaiah Sullivan 1 0-0 2. Totals 24 28-45 75.
Doug Daniels 1 4-6 7, Victor Rosario 3 2-3 9, Ronnie Ellis 8 0-0 18, Jayquan Bromell 2 0-0 4, Jalen Googe 1 0-0 3, Jaylen Ricks 7 8-10 22, John Relaford 2 1-3 5, Cam Cogdell 1 0-0 3. Totals 25 15-22 71.
3-point goals: Bassick(Griffin -1), Hamden ( Daniels-1, Googe-1, Rosario-1, Cogdell-1, Ellis-2.) Fouled out: Hamden- Coefield, Rosario. Ejection: Rosario.
Records: Hamden 16-3, Bassick 17-1.