Trumbull — Trumbull High scored on its first five possessions of the second half. The large contingent of Eagle fans in the student section began to chant: “It’s too easy,” as visiting New Canaan took a timeout down 42-26 early in the third quarter.
Trumbull coach Buddy Bray, whose team earned a 64-52 team, wasn’t buying into the start-the-bus concept.
“New Canaan is having a good year with quality wins,” Bray said of the Rams, now 7-3. “They beat Stamford at the buzzer and they are well coached by Dan (Melzer).”
In a game of extended runs, Trumbull let the horses out of the barn early and jumped in front 12-0. The Eagles (10-1) scored on each possession in an up-and-down the court start to this contest between FCIAC contenders.
“I told the guys you can’t spot a good team a 12-point lead,” Melzer said. “We weren’t ready in the first and third quarters (the Eagles went on a 15-0 run in that stanza). Trumbull has spurt-ability. They are a very experienced team that won the FCIAC last year.”
Trumbull’s penchant to turn rebounds into transition baskets played a part in its quick-strike attack.
Mileeq Green had 10 rebounds, Timmond Williams seven, Chris Brown five and Evan Gutowski four.
“Mileeq had four assists and 10 rebounds,” Bray said of his sophomore guard. “He is quick off the floor, plays with tenacity, and is a warrior on every possession.
“Timmond (25 points) is working hard. Teams are keying on him and running a second defender at him. He stays settled and knows that opens the floor for everyone else.”
Brown scored 16 points and Evan Gutkowski scored six points in the first Eagle run and had a key put back bucket early in the third quarter burst.
It didn’t help New Canaan that Trumbull was 13-for-18 from the floor in the second half and 18-for-23 from the foul line overall.
The first comeback
Down 12-0, Melzer had five players at the scorer’s table waiting for a stop in action when New Canaan senior tri-captain Ben Sarda broke the 4:28 streak with a three-pointer.
Matthew Brand swished home consecutive threes to make it 14-9 and it was game on.
The Rams’ rally continued in the second quarter, when Brand’s block-to-block pass inside to Jack Richardson gave New Canaan its first lead at 21-20 with 1:20 left in the half.
Williams put Trumbull in front 25-24 at the half with a three-pointer off a Green assist.
Trumbull point guard Quentar Taylor (five steals) was patient against New Canaan’s extended man pressure to begin the third quarter. The senior found Williams for a catch-and-shoot jumper 40 seconds in. After Gutowski’s rebound hoop, quick outlet passes from Green and Williams led to breakaway baskets by Taylor and Brown.
Richardson had the only answer during this stretch for New Canaan, as Brand found his senior classmate cutting to the basket.
By the time Trumbull’s fans began to shout, Brown had turned a power drive into a three-point play and Green had split two defenders to score in transition for that 42-26 advantage.
Sarda’s long-range jumper was New Canaan’s second and last hoop of the period and it was 43-28 with one frame remaining.
Rally Part Two
The Rams’ Aaron Fishman joined the party with a trey of his own, but Trumbull got to a pair of 50-50 balls off missed shots and turned them into five points from Williams.
Again, the Rams came back.
Sarda buried back-to-back threes and the Rams turned the transition game around on the Eagles. Doubling the ball on defense led to leak-out baskets from Brand and senior tri-captain Like Rwambuya.
Brand added a brace of free throws and it was a two-possession game at 51-45 midway through the final period.
Green made his most eye-opening play here. Out of a spread, Green made a 25-foot pass to a wide-open Gutowski who slammed home a dunk.
The Rams kept working and Fishman scored off the dribble and Alex Gibbens tallied on a baseline drive.
With 1:21 on the clock, down 54-49, the Rams used their last timeout.
Out of the break, Trumbull made seven in a row to secure the decision.
“We practiced our free throws early this morning and it paid off,” Bray said. “We have exam week coming up and this was a big victory.”
Trumbull is off until Friday, Jan. 25 when they travel to Westhill-Stamford.
New Canaan will visit Fairfield Warde next Tuesday.
Melzer said: “This was a tough challenge and this team was up to it, but we have to be ready from the jump. Warde is next. If we want to be the team we want to be we have to win on the road.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Timmond Williams: Scored 25 points with seven rebounds thrown in. Made 9 of 10 free throws and scored nine points in the final period.
“Timmond (25 points) is working hard,” Trumbull coach Buddy Bray said. “Teams are keying on him and running a second defender at him. He stays settled and knows that opens the floor for everyone else.”
TRUMBULL 64, NEW CANAAN 52
Mileeq Green 3 2-2 8; Quentar Taylor 1 4-4 6; Evan Gutowski 4 1-4 9; Timmond Williams 7 9-10 25; Chris Brown 7 2-3 16. Totals: 22 18-23 64.
New Canaan (7-3)
Matt Brand 6 3-4 17; Aaron Fishman 2 0-0 5; Ben Sarda 4 0-0 11, Alex Gibbons 2 0-0 5; Ryan McAleer 2 0-0 4; 4 0-0 10; Luke Rwambuya 3 0-0 6; Stephen Wronski 1 0-0 2; Jake Richardson 1 0-2 2. Totals 21 3-6 52.
New Canaan 11 13 4 24 — 52
Trumbull 16 9 18 21 — 64
Three-pointers: T—Williams 2; NC—Sarda 3, Brand 2, Fishman 1, Gibbens 1