BLOOMFIELD >> There was no shortage of talent on the court at Bloomfield High School Friday night for a match-up of two, one-loss teams in the Central Connecticut Conference.
But this game came down to a matter of depth and East Catholic has what Bloomfield is lacking.
Eight of nine Eagles that entered the game scored to the Warhawks six and it resulted in a 68-53 victory going away for the defending Class M state champions.
“We’re a very deep team,” East Catholic coach Luke Reilly said. “From a competitive standpoint it makes this a very good team.”
Kansas State commit Mike McGuirl led East Catholic with 15 points while sophomores Joey Reilly and Josh Menard each chipped in 13. The latter made three 3s and they all seemed to come at opportune times.
“McGuirl and Reilly are both legit all-state players,” Bloomfield coach Gary Barcher said. “You tell me we’re holding them to 15 and 13, I’m taking my chances. Someone else has to beat us and Menard hit some big 3s.”
Bloomfield was led by Jordan Pruitt and Dexter Lawson Jr. who scored 21 and 14, respectively. But Barcher has still yet to see a third scorer step up for his team at almost the midpoint of the season.
“We want three or four in double figures,” Barcher said. “Add 20 turnovers and it’s usually a victory. Very rarely are we getting the third guy in double figures.”
And this game was a microcosm of what Barcher expects from his team throughout the season — a slow start and a run at the end.
The only problem with this one was East Catholic capped it with a run of its own.
After a combined 12 points scored in the first quarter, the Eagles built their first big lead, a 10-0 run capped by five straight from Jamil Hornsby, but then Bloomfield caught fire from deep.
Pruitt knocked down two straight 3s and Lawson Jr. sunk another to get the Warhawks back within seven with two minutes left in the half.
“Sometimes when you play a team like Bloomfield,” Luke Reilly said. “It feels worse than it is and that was the case.”
“We knew they were going to go on runs,” McGuirl said. “We practiced our mental game, being able to resist their runs. Stay strong and mentally focused.”
Out of the break Bloomfield went on its strongest run of the game, an 18-10 spurt that gave it its only lead at 35-34. During that stretch Chris Rose, Pruitt, Lawson Jr. and Josh Moore-Henry all scored, but it may have taken too much energy to sustain the lead.
“They’re giving everything they got,” Barcher said. “So they’re exhausted and East has good depth.”
East Catholic answered with another 10-0 run to end the third quarter.
“We were able to streak together some stops and some scores to get a little bit of separation,” Reilly said.
Hanging around a 10-point lead, Menard hit his third 3-pointer of the game to make it 53-40 and out of reach for Bloomfield.
The Eagles hit their free throws down the stretch — 23 of 26 in all — to put the game away.
East Catholic 68, Bloomfield 53
East Catholic: 8 16 24 20 — 68
Bloomfield: 4 13 21 15 — 53
(at Bloomfield High School)
East Catholic (68) — Mike McGuirl 3 8-8 15, Joey Reilly 5 3-4 13, Jamil Hornsby 3 0-1 7, Rakesh Tibby 1 2-3 4, Matthew Veretto 1 4-4 6, Evgeniy Medvedev 0 0-0 0, Josh Menard 4 2-2 13, Trey Hall 2 0-0 4, Will Pineo 1 4-4 6 — Total 20 23-26 68.
Bloomfield (53) — Chris Rose 3 0-0 6, Russell Thompson-Bishop 0 0-0 0, Dexter Lawson Jr. 4 4-5 14, Jordan Pruitt 6 5-6 21, Clifton Percy-Campbell 2 0-1 4, Josh Moore-Henry 3 0-4 7, Alfonzo Stokes 0 1-2 1, Richard Damas 0 0-0 0 — Total 18 10-18 53.
3-pointers: EC — Menard (3), Hornsby, McGuirl; B — Pruitt (4), Lawson Jr. (2), Moore-Henry.
Team records: East Catholic 6-1; Bloomfield 6-2.