A "Curly Neal" impression, a three-point barrage, and a slam! This one had it all as @WHSathleticsCT defeats Bassick, 82-65 to advance in Division I! @WHSPrincipalCT #RunToTheSun #ctbb pic.twitter.com/x552orygbj
— CT Sports Now (@CT_Sports_Now) March 12, 2019
WATERBURY — Bassick wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
The Lions fought back from a double-digit deficit in the third quarter to turn Monday night’s Division I state boys basketball quarterfinal against Windsor back into a game again heading into the final quarter.
Then Windsor’s two best players made sure Bassick’s rally ended there. A 14-4 run to start the quarter helped the sixth-seeded Warriors regain control of the game. They went on to defeat No. 3 Bassick 82-65 at Wilby High School.
“We got to the basket, started out the game missing a lot,” Bassick coach Bernie Lofton said. “We wore them down a little bit and got back into the game. Then they made some adjustments. They made big shots. Every time we thought we had a chance, they stuck the dagger (from three).”
Windsor made eight three-point shots. The Warriors have a pair of guards in Corey McKeithan, who has verbally committed to Rutgers, and Amir Spears, a Division I-guard-in-waiting, to rescue the Warriors out of any trouble. Spears led the way with 27 points and McKeithan, who Windsor coach Ken Smith said “calls the defenses” added 21.
“Amir and Corey handled the ball without making mistakes,” Smith said.
Windsor (22-3) will now face No. 7 seed Immaculate in the semifinals on Wednesday night at 7 at the University of Hartford’s Chase Arena.
“They want you to rush and turn the ball over,” Smith said about Bassick. “The kids stepped up and did a good job on the glass. … They (Immaculate) play together and obviously, they are playing well.”
— Joe Morelli (@nhrJoeMorelli) March 12, 2019
The two junior guards combined for all 14 points during that Windsor run that finished off the Lions (20-2). It was capped by one behind-the-back dribble from McKeithan, then a behind-the-back pass from McKeithan to Spears in the corner for the three-pointer.
“I was off in the second half,” Spears said. “So Corey ran the show and Jordan Riley ran the show. Coach told me I had to sacrifice and play with three fouls (in the second half).”
Said Lofton: “We turned the ball over a lot. That’s not like us. … I think we played hard. We didn’t make any threes (just two). We were attacking the basket like we normally do and weren’t getting anything out of it.”
Riley added 20 points for Windsor, which reached the Division I semifinals for the second straight season. Lawrence Foreman grabbed a game-high 18 rebounds for the Warriors.
You think Windsor wanted this W badly? Check out their postgame interview! All smiles for the Warriors after topping Bassick. Next up: Immaculate Wed. at @HartfordHawks . @WHSFootballCT @WHSathleticsCT @WHSPrincipalCT @GoECCAthletics @CoreyMckeithan #ctbb @WFSBnews @ciacsports pic.twitter.com/C4TIrYZ3yf
— Elliott Polakoff (@ElliottPolakoff) March 12, 2019
“In the third, we were missing shots, but in the fourth, we started hitting them,” McKeithan said.
Bassick’s Kevin Crawford finished with 22 points before fouling out of the final game of his career with 2:19 left. Lofton said he had suffered a knee injury and didn’t have that lift he normally has. It didn’t help that McKeithan was guarding him also.
But the senior did score nine straight points in the third quarter to get Bassick back into the game. Emery Linton and Jordan Gallimore added 15 and 14 points, respectively, in their final games for Bassick.
“He sat out the whole second quarter. It was hurting him before we got here,” Lofton said about Crawford. “We aren’t going to make an excuse for that. We got to the basket, we didn’t knock down shots and they knocked down shots.”
A brief scuffle broke out with 3:19 left. Blake Okoloji, Windsor’s reserve senior forward, was ejected, as was Ricky Irby from Bassick, also a senior. Okoloji will have to sit out the Immaculate game per CIAC rule for ejections.
“It hurts a lot. He’s like a sixth man. He has to learn to hold his composure,” Smith said. “I think Bassick should have gotten more technicals. Their whole bench (was on the court).”
Bassick never led and were down double digits for most of the second quarter. The Lions didn’t start their comeback until there was under 3 minutes left in the third quarter.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Corey McKeithan, Windsor: Scored 16 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, including 9 of 10 from the free-throw line.