WESTPORT — It was a rough season for both Staples and St. Joseph, so coming into the final game of the year, both teams were looking for momentum heading into next season.
And the Cadets got a big boost heading into the offseason with a strong second half to take down Staples 61-49.
“We knew they were going to extend the floor and trap,” St. Joseph coach Paul Dudzinski said. “So we were just trying to take wide-open layups. It’s been a long year for two teams that have battled. I know how Staples feels, I’ve been on the other side of those.”
The Cadets received strong performances from juniors Brendan Kade and Stephen Paolini and sophomore Paul Fabbri.
Paolini, who finished with six points, six assists, and eight rebounds, and Fabbri, who finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, and four assists, help to set the pace of the game, as the Cadets slowed the ball down on the offensive end.
Kade finished with a game-high 18 points.
“I really trust some of my ball creators,” he said. “Stephen knows how to get to the basket and kick it out. We work a lot on that in practice, also Paul is really good at that and they both can knock down the 3-ball really well.”
Staples struggled to get the offense flowing for much of the game, as rough shooting against the Cadets’ zone defense made it difficult for the Wreckers to get into any kind of rhythm, coach Colin Devine said..
“St. Joe’s played really good defense,” he said. “We didn’t knock down some shots that we usually made and we’ve got to credit St. Joe’s, they did a really good job shooting the basketball from the short corner and drive and kick situations.”
Junior Dylan Honig and sophomore A.J. Konstanty led the Wreckers with 11 points each.
Although it was the last game for seniors on both teams, Staples’ Ben Pearl said he played his last game the same way he always had — with 100 percent effort.
“I’ve got no regrets,” he said. “I just came out and gave it my all. Even though we didn’t come out with a win every single night, I knew that I left everything on the court and that’s all I can ask for.”
As the final seconds ticked off the clock, seniors on both side playing their final games received standing ovations from the crowd at Staples Gym.
“They’re great leaders, great basketball players, but even better people. They showed up to work every day and set the example to what it means to be a competitor and a Staples basketball player,” Colin Devin said of the seniors playing their final game.
“These kids are just really solid young men. They’re great teammates. I can’t say enough about them. Just solid citizens, solid students in school. They didn’t play a whole ton of minutes for us throughout the year. But they were a big part of our program,” Paul Dudzinski said of the St. Joseph senior class.
ST. JOSEPH 61, STAPLES 49
ST. JOSEPH 12 15 20 14—61
STAPLES 10 16 12 11—49
ST. JOSEPH (4-16)
William Diamantis 2 0-0 4 Stephen Paolini 3 0-0 6 Bobby Sullivan 1 0-0 2 Ace Luzietti 2 4-5 10 Paul Fabbri 2 7-8 11 Brendan Kade 6 2-4 18 Ian Argento 1 0-0 2 Brian Dineen 3 0-0 6 Tyler Dubose 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 13-17 61.
Luke Murphy 1 0-0 3; Ben Pearl 1 3-4 5; A.J. Konstanty 5 1-2 11; Max Sussman 1 1-2 4; Stedman van Arsdale 1 1-1 3; Jake Thaw 2 0-0 4; Dylan Honig 4 0-0 11 Sam Maged 0 0-0 0; Evan Vishno 1 0-0 3; Dylan Ward 1 0-0 2, Tristan Hochman 0 0-0 0 Teddy Dienst 1 0-0 3. Totals: 18 6-9 49.
3-pointers: STJ—Kade 4, Luzietti 2; STA—Sussman, Murphy, Vishno, Dienst, Honig 3.
Fouled Out: S—Pearl
Technical Foul: STJ— Dudzinski
Highlights: STJ—Dineen had six points, one assist, and one steal. STA—Pearl had three assists, and four rebounds.