COLCHESTER >> Throw the seeds out the window.
Weaver played like a top seed in the Class M boys basketball quarterfinals Monday night, causing all kinds of problems for Bacon Academy on their home court.
The Beavers defeated the Bobcats, 73-58, in front of a packed house at the Dave Shea Gymnasium in Colchester. Weaver will now play Lewis Mills in the semifinals on Wednesday at New Britain High School.
“They tire you out, they make you play too fast,” Bacon Academy coach John Shea said.
After it shook off the pregame jitters, Weaver’s full court press went to work forcing almost 30 turnovers.
“You try to simulate that type of pressure in practice with eight on five, but it’s impossible to simulate that,” Shea said. “They’re so quick with their hands.”
The Bobcats’ big man, Brendan Violette, scored the first two baskets of the game. Just as fast as the Weaver guards run, the Bobcats had the lead and didn’t look back.
Out of the halftime break, Weaver had a comfortable 16-point lead and began to hold the ball and work the clock, but Bacon had other ideas.
After Chaylynn Martin made one of two free throws about a minute and a half into the third quarter, the Bobcats went on a 8-0 run started when Isaiah Stewart hit a 3-pointer and then followed it up with two more just 10 seconds later. Then Violette converted a 3-point play to pull within 11.
“We just hit some open shots, there was open shots to be had,” Shea said. “But their pressure was so enormous that it was hard to even get the ball up the court at times. But when we did, we had some open shots and we finally started making some.”
The home crowd, which provided a great home environment, was almost deafening at this point. When Violette chased down Chaylynn Martin and blocked what looked like a sure lay-up, the place erupted.
“We knew that this would be a tough environment to play in,” Weaver coach Reggie Hatchett said. “Bacon Academy is a great team. Having to come out here (and) play on their home court, there would be a lot of students cheering.”
Matthew Scheidel did some serious damage for the Bobcats from long range, the senior made five 3-pointers in the game with two big ones late in the fourth quarter to get Bacon within single digits. He finished with a game-high 27 points.
The 3-ball was falling for Weaver as well. It hit eight in the game, six of which came in the first half, to help the Beavers to a 49-33 halftime lead.
KeAndre Fair hit three of those long balls in the first half and finished with 22 points.
“He’s the type of kid that doesn’t mind deferring to teammates,” Hatchett said of Fair. “But when big shots come up, he wants the ball.”
Willie James capped off the win with a dunk just under a minute left in the game. Martin also had a dunk late, making up for early on when he went up for a fast-break dunk, missed and was issued a technical foul for hanging on the rim.
“He got in foul trouble early, but the shots he made down the stretch were the difference in the game, I thought,” Hatchett said.
James scored eight points late in the fourth quarter, including the dunk to keep Bacon Academy from getting any closer than six points.
Hatchett has mentioned over the last few weeks what this basketball team means to the Weaver community. The team was affected by the sudden death of Muriel Hurley, the daughter of Hartford basketballl legend Walter “Doc” Hurley. The 52-year old was found dead in her home on Sunday, a month after her father died. The cause of her death has not been determined, according to the Hartford Courant.
“A lot of our kids have heavy hearts with the passing of Muriel Hurley today,” Hatchett said. “We have kids that knew her personally, we had to put all this stuff aside,” Hatchett said. “This team has been through a whole bunch, this game just showed their heart and character.
“It means a lot for our community. The schools been through so much, with it threatening to close, and the death of Doc Hurley. …For our boys and our girls now being in a semi-final game, it means a lot to the community and it means a lot to us.”