UNCASVILLE – The Waterford fans came in droves. With a 10-minute car ride to the Mohegan Sun Arena, you knew they would.
It didn’t matter what time the game was played – in this case, the first Sunday morning championship game the CIAC has ever allowed – Lancer Nation was coming. Avon brought the fan support too – and even the upper deck at the arena was opened.
The second-seeded Lancers put forth one more spectacular performance led by their point guard, Mikey Buscetto, defeated No. 9 Avon 90-67 before 3,600 at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
“I have no idea what the words are to express this. There’s relief, there’s happiness,” Waterford coach Bill Bassett said. “I’m so happy for those boys, they have something for the rest of their lives to hold onto to bind them together as a team.”
Buscetto finished with 27 points and 10 assists, the first player to record a points and assists double-double since at least 2003 in a CIAC boys basketball final.
“It’s a perfect way to go out. Any high school basketball player would want to go out this way,” Buscetto said. “I set goals for myself in the beginning of the year and I accomplished every single one of them. I’m so proud of everyone, it’s just an awesome feeling.”
Said Bassett: “Buscetto is the best player I have ever coached. He’s always willing to get better and made the guys around him better.”
The emotion flowed as Buscetto checked out of his final game for the Lancers (25-2) with under a minute left. The senior guard entertained the idea of leaving Waterford for prep school, including Hamden Hall, where he would have reclassified.
But after discussing the situation with his dad, Mike, a former player at Quinnipiac College in the early 1990s, the chance to play in front of the home folks for one more year was too much of an opportunity to pass up.
“I was very close to leaving and going to prep school,” Buscetto said. “My dad asked me, ‘A lot of people want to see you play on your home floor. It might be better off you stay at Waterford.’ I wanted to finish with my brothers. I’ve been playing with them since the fifth grade. I’m more than glad that I stayed.”
Jay Jay Brennan added 19 points for the Lancers, who took the lead for good late in the first quarter and steadily built the lead from there. Liam Spellman and Walker Sutman added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The lead was up to 16 at halftime (39-24) and 26 (70-44) by the end of the third quarter. Avon (16-10) just couldn’t keep up with the break-neck pace at which Waterford was playing.
“We got behind, then we’re trying to chase Mikey around,” Avon coach Kris Pedra said. “He is so quick, he’s so good with the ball. He’s a good scorer, but what makes him great is his passing. He is a great passer. He is so unselfish with that ball, it’s tough to contain him.”
The Falcons scored the first nine points of the fourth quarter and actually got to within 15 before Waterford regained its collective composure and won the program’s second state championship.
“We noticed they weren’t getting back on defense and kind of slowed up a little bit,” Buscetto said. “I told my big guys to run the floor, ‘I’m going to find you. They aren’t going to get back.’ We had to keep up the tempo and not let up.”
The seniors depart Avon after making an unexpected run to the final.
“I can’t thank the seniors enough. They brought the program to the Mohegan Sun. Kids all over the state dream about playing here and we got here. It gives us something to build on These seniors set that benchmark for the program.”
— GameTimeCT (@GameTimeCT) March 18, 2018
Waterford 90, Avon 67
AVON 9 17 19 22–67
WATERFORD 17 25 28 20–90
Brett Muni 6 3-4 15, Charlie Reiss 6 1-3 15, Jordan Williams 7 6-9 23, Riley Welter 2 0-0 5, Connor Harris 2 5-6 13, Jack Hall 0 0-0 0, Marek Ciierniewski 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 15-22 67.
Eric Pinch 1 0-0 2, Mikey Buscetto 10 4-5 27, Liam Spellman 5 0-0 12, Max Mazzella 2 0-0 4, Walker Sutman 4 3-6 11, Tyler Peretz 1 0-0 2, Omar Rahman 2 0-0 4, Trevor Yeomans 4 1-2 9, Jay Jay Brennan 5 6-9 19, Dylan Eckhart 0 0-0 0. Totals 34 14-22 90.
3-point field goals: Avon 6 (Williams 3, Reiss 2, Welter); Waterford 8 (Buscetto 3, Brennan 3, Spellman 2). Fouled out: Williams.