WILTON — Third-seeded Wilton and sixth-seeded New Britain were tied after 31 minutes, 29.5 seconds in Friday night’s Division II boys basketball state tournament quarterfinal at the Zeoli Field House.
And no one could have predicted how the final 30.5 seconds of New Britain’s 64-63 victory would play out.
After a Shamah Charles basket in the paint tied the game at 62-62, the Warriors called a time out with 30.5 seconds remaining.
New Britian’s Kaiyon Gunn stepped came up with a steal and raced down the court for the layup and a two point lead with 15 second left.
Wilton pushed the ball up the court, got off a shot that rolled off the rim and was rebounded by New Britain. Wilton then was forced to foul the Golden Hurricanes twice to put them in a one-and-one foul shooting situation.
New Britain’s Thameen Dupree missed the front end of the one and one, but Charles was able to tip the miss to his teammate Gunn. Wilton quickly fouled Gunn, but it appeared the clock expired. The official blew his whistle before the clock expired, however players and coaches from New Britain’s bench ran onto the court thinking the game was over. After several minutes of discussion between the three officials, the outcome was announced to the crowd.
Gunn was fouled with .3 seconds left on the clock and would go to the line to shoot one and one. The New Britain team was assessed a technical foul and Wilton would shoot two free throws and get the ball after the New Britain foul shot attempt.
With the clock stopped Gunn missed his foul shot moving the action to the other end of the court. Wilton’s Kyle Hyzy stepped to the line for the Warriors two shots and a chance to send the game into overtime. Hyzy missed his first attempt, but made the second, putting the warriors down one at 64-63.
Wilton’s desperation throw-in pass looking for a quick bucket wasn’t to be and New Britain held on to advance to the Division II semifinal against second-seeded Glastonbury.
“We came into the game trying to limit their three point baskets and apply pressure on defense,” New Britain coach Kurt Reis said. “From what I knew about them going into the game, I was expecting them to go 10 or 11 players deep and have their big man (Ryan Biberon) on the floor more”. “As for my team Kaiyon Gunn didn’t give me the production I usually expect from him, but he came up big with the steal and bucket when we needed it most.”
Wilton got off to good start, led twice by eight points in the first quarter, and held a 23-16 lead after one. New Britain opened the second quarter on a 10-0 run to surge in front 26-23. New Britain led 40-39 at the half and 52-49 after three quarters, making four three-pointers in the third. New Britain slowed the pace in the fourth, with neither team, scoring for the first 3:30 of the quarter until another three-pointer by Smith tied the game at 52-52. The game was tied five more times in the period, with no team leading by more than two points.
“My team played their hearts out all season and I feel really bad for the seniors to go out this way,” Wilton coach Joel Geriak said. “We rushed our play tonight, which made us turn the ball over too many times to overcome. We seem to have also lost our composure, which is not the character of this team. Don’t take anything away from New Britain; they caused us to play that way. They’re quick on defense and took away some of our options.”