MIDDLETOWN>>According to Weaver coach Reggie Hatchett, the CCC tournament is used to prepare for the state tournament.
Well, the Beavers will get another tune-up game.
Weaver used a full-court press and fast guard play to defeat Middletown, 79-68 at Labella-Sullivan Gymnasium on Thursday.
Late in the second quarter, Makai Hunter of Middletown fouled Jaecee Martin around the 3-point line. The two got into a little shoving match and when their teammates separated them, Hunter was issued a technical foul.
Martin hit both of his free throws, followed by KeAndre Fair shooting two for the technical. All four shots were made and the momentum shifted. Weaver completed a 13-0 run and led 31-25 at the half.
“It definitely changed the game,” Hatchett said. “I’m glad we capitalized on free throws. We hadn’t been shooting free throws well as of late. We made all four and that definitely gave us a boost.”
Middletown did regain the lead a couple of times, but couldn’t seem to get in any rhythm as the eighth seed in the CCC tournament fell at home.
The full-court press applied by Weaver in the second half caused all kinds of problems for Middletown. The Beavers amassed 14 steals in the game, with most of them coming while pressing the Middletown guards in the backcourt.
The bright spot for the Blue Dragons was senior Brandon Simmons. He was the only player it seemed Weaver couldn’t stop, scoring a game high 38 points, including two strong dunks.
The only time the Blue Dragons looked comfortable on offense was in the first quarter. They led 14-10 after seven minutes, highlighted by a thunderous block by O’Brien Watson. Antonio White hit a 3 in the middle of the first and Caylen Williams scored on a layup on a nice dish under the basket from Hunter.
Savon Williams hit a couple of threes for Middletown in the third and finished with 10 points.
Mike Medlin put the exclamation point on the win with a one-handed slam with 2:10 left in the game. His final two of 15 points in the game.
“To get a win like this, in this type of environment, a quality program and a quality player like 52 [Simmons], it gives us a boost of confidence going forward,” Hatchett said.
Weaver will play New Britain on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Bulkeley High School in the CCC quarterfinals.
“Craven Johnson inside is a load, we don’t really have the size to combat him, but we have more perimeter players that can come at him in waves,” said Hatchett on Weaver’s quarterfinal opponent.
Middletown now has to look forward to the state tournament.
“Got a lot of work and practice to do, hopefully we can get done what we need to get done,” Simmons said.