CROMWELL >> Powered by another terrific shooting display from senior guard Peter Dewey and a shut down defensive performance that has been their staple all season, Cromwell advanced to the Class M state quarterfinals with a 62-47 win over Windham Thursday night at Salfia Gymnasium.
The third-seeded Panthers (22-3) will host No. 6 Notre Dame-Fairfield (22-3) on Monday. The Lancers, who won the South West Conference championship, defeated Ansonia 68-63 on Thursday.
“We know, without a doubt, that’s the best team we’re going to play up until now,” Cromwell coach John Pinone said. “No one thinks we have any chance to beat Notre Dame-Fairfield. But my kids got a lot of confidence in themselves right now and we’ll be ready.”
Shoreline Conference champion Cromwell has won 14 straight and 19 out of their last 20 games.
“Overall, I thought we played one of our better games of the season,” Pinone said. “I was very proud of the way our kids defended tonight, especially after the second quarter on. We defend and we try to take away what you do best. If you can defend you’re always going to be in the game and give yourself a chance.”
Dewey poured in a game-high 34 points, including 20 in the first half to lift the Panthers to a 35-25 lead at intermission. Dewey drained four of his five 3-pointers in the second quarter.
“He let the game come to him instead of trying to force things up,” Pinone said. “He made a couple pretty deep with a guy on him.”
After Windham junior Willie Brown sank a trey to pull the Whippets within 23-21, Dewey answered with a top-of-the-key bomb. Amauri Santos countered with a fast break hoop but Dewey buried back-to-back threes to give Cromwell a 32-23 cushion with 1:39 left.
“I don’t know how to explain it,” Dewey said. “Everything out of my hand felt good.”
Panthers senior Terrance Natt (seven points) also made a big shot, beating the first half buzzer with a 3-pointer from the left wing.
“That gave us a little more distance on the scoreboard,” Pinone said. “We got to play a little more comfortable in the second half.”
Senior guard Devon Roberts led the No. 14 Whippets (14-9) with 17 points, while senior forward Brody Labbe added 15 points.
Roberts trey to open the fourth quarter closed the gap to 41-36 before the Panthers went on a decisive 10-2 run.
Senior guard Bryson Howard ignited the spurt with a pair of driving layups and a blocked shot. Senior forward Sean DelValle (eight points) also added a pair of baskets during the Panthers impressive stretch. DelValle converted a low post hoop off a feed from Howard to give Cromwell a 51-38 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
Junior forward Anthony Puntiel, who scored seven points, and DelValle anchored Cromwell’s defensive effort inside the paint.
“That was a great win,” Dewey said. “We played hard and defended really well after they came out and hit a few shots early. It’s great to get back to the quarterfinals but we want to go farther than that.”
CROMWELL 62, WINDHAM 47
(at Salafia Gymnasium, Cromwell )
Windham 13 12 8 14 – 47
Cromwell 15 20 6 21 – 62
Brody Labbe 3 7-7 15, Devon Roberts 5 4-4 17, Willie Brown 2 0-0 6, Amauri Santos 1 0-0 2, Andrew Gonzalez 2 0-0 5, Cornelilus Pinckey 1 0-0 2 . Totals: 14 11-11 47
Bryson Howard 3 0-1 6, Terrance Natt 2 2-2 7, Sean DelValle 4 0-1 8, Anthony Puntiel 3 1-2 7, Peter Dewey 9 11-13 34 . Totals: 21 14-19 62
3-point goals: Windham 8 (Labbe 2, Roberts 3, Brown 2, Gonzalez 1); Cromwell 6 (Dewey 5, Natt 1).
Records: Windham 14-9; Cromwell 22-3