UNCASVILLE >>>> It was déjà vu all over again for Windsor reserve guard Cody Quinn.
On Tuesday, Aaron McHenry injured his elbow when he was fouled late in the fourth quarter. When he couldn’t shoot the free throws in that Class L state semifinal against Bunnell, Quinn came into the game cold and knocked down the free throws. Windsor advanced.
Fast forward to Sunday’s Class L final at the Mohegan Sun Arena. McHenry was again fouled hard, this time hitting his head hard on the floor. Quinn bounced off the bench, seizing yet another opportunity.
“I actually jumped off the bench when Aaron got hurt,” Quinn said. “I know I’m a good free-throw shooter and Coach (Ken Smith) usually trusts me in those kind of situations to come in and knock down free throws.”
Quinn made four free throws over the final 24.9 seconds to seal the 63-59 victory and Class L state title for No. 4 seed Windsor over No. 2 Career before 7,559 fans.
“When he banged his head, I asked him, ‘Are you OK?’” Smith said. “Sometimes, kids play out of emotion. So I wanted the trainer to check him.”
Said Career coach Larry Kelley: “I was told he possibly had a concussion. True, false or indifferent, what am I going to do? It’s not going to change anything.”
Both times Quinn’s free throws Sunday put Windsor (22-5), the No. 10 team in the Register/GameTimeCT Top 10 poll, up by four points. Justin Campbell made a basket for the sixth-ranked Panthers (22-5) to cut the first deficit in half to 61-59. Then Quinn was fouled again with 12.4 seconds left.
Tyreek Perkins had one final look on a long shot attempt, but it was off the mark. Then the Warriors ran out the final seconds for its first state title since 2009
“It was a crazy game, they are a good team,” Smith said. “I think we are very fortunate. They are bigger stronger and they are quick, but when No.11 (Tyrell Eaddy) fouled out, that hurt them a lot. He is the guy who makes them run.”
Eaddy fouled out on a charge with 1:57 left and Career trailing 58-57.
The Panthers did notice that McHenry came back onto the floor and the referees consulted the Windsor trainer, who had given permission for McHenry to return. But Quinn remained on the floor as well.
“I questioned when he came back,” Kelley said. “Then they went and huddled so I knew they had reservations about it. But after that, doctor said he was all right. What am I going to say?”
Career was making its third trip to the state finals in the past four years, winning it in 2012.
“Congratulations to them, they played well,” Kelley said. “We came up short. I think my kids fought pretty good. When you lose, you lose. I can make all the excuses in the world. It’s not going to change anything. It’s just wasted wind.”
The lead changed hands 15 times in this game, the final time Windsor going ahead 54-53 on a three-point play by Tyler Rowe (game-high 25 points). The Warriors scored four more points before Career battled back yet again.
Jordan Lomax and Amos Ford had 18 and 15 points, respectively, in their final game for Career.
“I said to (the players), ‘I still love you. You did a great job this year. We came up short,’” Kelley said. “We lost together, but we will move on.”
WINDSOR 63, CAREER 59
Windsor 14 12 17 20 – 63
Career 13 15 13 18 – 59
Aaron McHenry 0 0-2 0, Eric Vinson 2 0-1 4, Dayon Hokim 1 0-1 2, Tyler Rowe 7 10-11 25, Chaunce Dunbar 2 4-5 9, Richard Leonard 1 0-0 2, Tynique Culver 4 2-2 10, Tyler Coyle 2 0-0 4, Cody Quinn 1 4-4 7. Totals: 20 20-26 63
Tyreek Perkins 3 3-4 10, Tyrell Eaddy 1 1-2 3, Amos Ford 6 0-0 15, Jordan Lomax 7 3-7 18, Justice Phifer 1 0-0 2, Matt Hamilton 2 0-0 4, Justin Campbell 3 1-4 7. Totals: 23 8-17 59
3-point goals: Windsor 3 (Rowe 1, Dunbar 1, Quinn 1); Career 5 (Perkins 1, Ford 3, Lomax 1); Fouled out: Career (Eaddy.); Records: Windsor 22-5; Career 22-5