DURHAM >> Coginchaug’s former coach Wally Camp was in everyone’s thoughts Friday night inside the Maynard Stender Gymnasium. Camp, who passed away three days ago, was honored with a moment of silence before the Blue Devils’ matchup against defending Shoreline Conference champion Cromwell.
A short time later, the Coginchaug boys basketball team made the legendary Camp proud one more time.
Senior forward Jack Murphy poured in a game-high 19 points, while senior Griffin Murphy and junior Hunter Jameson netted 15 points apiece in the Blue Devils’ emotional 58-45 victory.
“They didn’t tell me until after the game but they dedicated the game to Wally,” Coginchaug coach Todd Salva said. “They know how close I was to him and they were playing this one for Wally.”
Junior guard Noah Budzik made three 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 15 points, while junior guard Reese Reyes added 11 points for the Panthers (6-3).
“We have a lot of work to do,” said Cromwell coach John Pinone, who won his 300th career game earlier this season. “We have to get it together quickly because we’ve got a tough schedule coming up.”
Behind Jack Murphy’s 10 points the Blue Devils enjoyed a 17-15 lead after one quarter.
“We established our inside game early,” Salva said. “And because we did that when we went to the perimeter stuff it gave us more room to work and that was important.”
Coginchaug also had a 30-26 halftime lead before opening the third quarter with an impressive 13-3 run. Griffin Murphy capped the spurt with a nifty back door layup off a Jameson feed. Murphy was fouled on the play and his free throw gave the Blue Devils a 43-29 cushion with 2:10 left in the third.
“It was a nice game for us because it was the game plan,” Salva said. “Any time you get the game plan on the court and it works is a good night.”
The Panthers got within 46-40 early in the fourth after Will Moore drained a baseline jumper and converted a tip-in after a missed free throw. But Jameson fueled an 8-0 spurt with a pair of driving layups. A low post hoop from Griffin Murphy gave the Blue Devils a 54-40 lead with 2:49 remaining.
“We broke down defensively,” Pinone said. “Coginchaug made some plays, no disrespect, but our defense is not where it should be for a Cromwell High School team that we’re used to seeing.”
The Blue Devils made a memorable run to the Class S state championship game last March and Friday’s win over Cromwell was one of their best efforts of the season. It was, indeed, a special night for Coginchaug basketball.
“I wish the kids had an opportunity to meet Wally and know him like I did,” Salva said. “The world would be a lot better place if there were more Wally Camp’s in it. And he’s truly going to be missed I know by a lot of people.”