NEW HAVEN — Hamden ended February with a flourish, knocking off four teams in seven days to capture its first SCC championship on the hardwood. March, however, wasn’t as kind to the Green Dragons.
In the quarterfinals of the Division I state tournament, the Green Dragons ran into one of the few teams they couldn’t solve. Third-seeded Bassick turned aside a furious rally for its second win over sixth-seeded Hamden in as many tries this season, 75-74, at Floyd Little Athletic Center on Monday.
The Green Dragons (22-4) rallied from 19 points down in the second half to grab a 74-73 lead with under a minute left. But Kevin Crawford’s layup with 14 seconds remaining gave the Lions a dramatic win.
“We jump on teams. We can get a 10-point lead in two minutes and we give it right back,” Bassick coach Bernie Lofton said. “It’s just our style of play. We just want to keep the tempo up.”
It nearly backfired on the Lions. A layup by Jaylen Ricks gave Hamden its first lead, 74-73, with 24 seconds remaining. However, the Lions grabbed it right back thanks to Crawford, who matched fellow guard Qualon Wilkes with a team-high 22 points.
“This shows that we never give up,” Crawford said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re down 10 or down one. We’ve got to play until the end.”
The Lions (21-1), who also won at Hamden 75-71, on Feb. 13, will play SWC champion Notre Dame-Fairfield, the No. 2 seed, in the semifinals on Thursday. ND rallied to beat No. 7 Danbury 76-70 in overtime.
Hamden (22-4) will be headed home.
“You’re up on the mountaintop at one second and then you’re in the valley,” Hamden coach Jerrad Beck said. “You’ve got to stay even-keeled. It’s something that makes you laugh and makes you cry.”
Bassick ended the first half on an 11-2 run to take a 37-23 lead into the break. That lead ballooned to 19 points in the third quarter, but Hamden outscored the Lions 23-11 over a six-minute stretch to pull within two with 1:05 remaining.
Ricks led Hamden with 21 points. Jayquan Bromell and Victor Rosario each scored 13 points.
The Lions, whose only loss this year was a 36-point blowout at the hands of No. 1 East Catholic back in January, are now just one step from the state finals.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Kevin Crawford, Bassick, G: The junior’s layup with 14 seconds remaining gave the Lions the lead for good. He finished the game with 22 points, nine of which came in the opening quarter.
Three players fouled out for Bassick, including starting forwards Jordan and Jaelin Gallimore. Three players fouled out for Hamden. That pace did no favors to the Lions, who nearly squandered an opportunity to go to the semifinals. “There were a lot of stoppages, a lot of fouls,” Bassick coach Bernie Lofton. “When we don’t go to the foul line, we don’t get to set our press up. Our defense usually scores in transition.”
“We did not quit.” — Crawford
BASSICK 75, HAMDEN 74
Jaylen Ricks 7 7-11 21 Jalen Googe 1 0-0 3 Douglas Daniels 4 3-4 12 Ronnie Ellis 3 3-4 9 Jayquan Bromell 5 3-3 13 Victor Rosario 3 6-7 13 Fabian Cox 1 0-0 2 Johnathan Relaford 0 1-2 1. Totals 24 23-31 74.
Qualon Wilkes 5 11-14 22 Jace Darby 3 1-2 6 Jordan Gallimore 4 0-0 8 Kevin Crawford 8 6-7 22 Emery Linton 3 7-12 13 Justice Hinds 1 0-0 2 Giovanni Santiago 0 2-2 2. 24 27-37 75.
HAMDEN 7 16 25 26—74
BASSICK 17 22 23 13—75
3-pointers: Googe, Daniels, Rosario; B — Wilkes. Fouled out: H — Daniels, Ellis, Washington; B — Linton, Jaelin Gallimore, Jordan Gallimore.