Until Tuesday night, No. 2-ranked Crosby had just buried everyone in the NVL and some of the scores (as always) bordered on the absurd. The Bulldogs scored 90 or more points eight times in 13 games and scored no less than 77 all year. They won by an average of 89-53, a margin of 36 points.
Their only victory by less than 10 points was a 79-76 Christmas week thriller over Waterbury city rival and No. 8-ranked Sacred Heart, led by sophomore Mustapha Heron, a 6-foot-4 Pittsburgh commit who dropped into to Waterbury this season via West Haven and Wilbraham & Monson (Mass.) and Meriden.
So, naturally, hoops-crazed Waterbury had itself whipped up in a frenzy over the rematch at The Palace at Crosby Tuesday night. The Republican-American newspaper went whole hog on previews, soliciting both reader and coaching thoughts on the matchups, providing video reports and such. CPTV Sports secured the game for a delayed broadcast. The game was sold out hours before tipoff.
And it didn’t disappoint, especially for Sacred Heart fans, who witnessed their team bolt out to a big second-half lead and then hold off Tyshon Rogers and Crosby in overtime, 90-82.
Rogers scored 40 points, enabling the Bulldogs to rally from 16 down in the second half to force overtime. But Heron, too, was unstoppable with 32 points. Teammate Malik Petteway made all the big plays while chipping in with 25 points and 14 rebounds.
“For this stage, with as many people as were here tonight, we showed great poise,” Heron told Joe Palladino of the Republican-American, who cooed about this instant classic in a column, writing “It was all you could ever hope for from a city game.”
So, the NVL is tied at the top with less than a month to go before tourney time.
Sacred Heart, whose only other loss was to Capital Prep (73-68 on Dec. 30) definitvely proved it’s a player. Crosby (13-1), despite losing at home, should get back to dominant form. We should be seeing these heavyweights slug it out again in the NVL tournament, most likely with a title on the line in a few weeks.
But as much as this game meant to Sacred Heart (13-2), it was already a massive favorite to win Class S (ugh).
Win or lose, this probably meant more for Crosby. They’re no sure thing in a Class LL field over which a long shadow is cast by Paschal Chukwu and Fairfield Prep. The Bulldogs have a chance to learn from what ailed it vs. Sacred Heart and apply those lessons to the rest of the season.
Watch the highlights above from CPTVSports, which will broadcast the full game Thursday at 7:30 p.m. (Check local listings).