WILTON — There was no denying the Danbury boys basketball team a return trip to the FCIAC championship game.
The No. 3 Hatters used a 16-0 run in the first quarter to establish dominance and never let No. 2 Wilton up for air, winning 68-48 in the FCIAC semifinals at Wilton Field House.
The defending FCIAC champions will face the winner of the nightcap between No. 7 Ridgefield and No. 1 Trumbull in the championship game Thursday night at 7 p.m. back at the field house.
Danbury beat Trumbull in the title game last season.
Danbury coach Casey Bock said the experience of playing in the final a year ago certainly helped his team maintain composure in a raucous environment.
“These seniors know what’s at stake and I thought we did a great job on the defensive end,” Bock said. “The seniors have played in a lot of big games and they led us. Then the younger guys are really starting to step up this season and our playing their roles”
Wilton was out of sync from the start, missing shots from both inside and out and Danbury was more than happy to pounce, going up 11 after one quarter and 33-16 at the half.
Jah Joyner had 19 points, leading the Hatters with Denali Burton adding 15 as the two big men did work inside.
For Wilton, Kyle Hyzy led the way with nine points.
Wilton’s 48 points marked only the second time the Warriors were held below 50 all season.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Javon Hernandez, Danbury. Hernandez scored 17 points but was most valuable breaking the Wilton press, dribbling or passing his way out of traps without much resistance.
“The game plan was to come in confident. We knew Wilton was a good team and our focus was to come in and play defense and get the job done,” Hernandez said. “This is a great atmosphere to play in and it gets our energy going. Right now, as a team we are playing great. Our defense is feeing into our offense and you can’t ask for anything else.”
RIDGEFIELD 73 TRUMBULL 66
The Ridgefield boys basketball team has had a string of success the last few seasons, including winning a FCIAC championship in 2017, but the run to reach this year’s final is a little more special for James St. Pierre and the seniors.
“I think this is the sweetest year,” St. Pierre said. “We have had some great teams the last few years, but this year, the guys are so fun to be with and the camaraderie is so great and hopefully it will translate to a win Thursday. I am really proud of how my teammates came out. None of them were afraid, at all.”
No. 5 Ridgefield started on fire and held on down the stretch, beating No. 1 Trumbull at Wilton Field House.
The Tigers will take on No. 3 Danbury, the 2018 titlists, in the championship game Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Field House.
Ridgefield used a 15-2 run in the first quarter, opening up an eight-point lead after one quarter.
Trumbull would claw back, but never get closer than six points.
The Ridgefield defense locked down Trumbull’s two leading scorers with St. Pierre holding down Timmond Williams and Chris Knachel covering Chris Brown.
Brown finished with 14 points and Williams 17 on just three field goals, both below their season averages.
Knachel also knocked down four big free throws in the fourth quarter as Trumbull was attempting its comeback. The junior forward finished with 20 points.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
James St. Pierre, Ridgefield. St. Pierre scored a game-high 23 points while also locking up Williams on defense.
“We have had some injuries this year and we had some up and down spotty play but we have just gotten better,” Ridgefield coach Andrew McClellan said. “James (St. Pierre) has had an amazing season and he makes everyone’s job a little easier. (Luke) McGarrity was super tonight, Knachel was good tonight and (Matt) DeLuca was really good tonight. We are more than James St. Pierre and the Tigers, but he’s been our captain and the leader of the bunch. Our defense was amazing tonight.”
RIDGEFIELD 73 TRUMBULL 66
James St. Pierre 7 5-5 23; Chris Knachel 7 6-8 20; Cameron Andry 0 0-0 0; Nick Hall 0 0-0 0; John Briody 3 0-0 9; Matt DeLuca 6 2-2 14; Luke McGarrity 2 2-2 7; Joe Misurelli 0 0-0 0. Totals: 25 15-17 73
Mileeq Green 5 2-2 14; Chris Brown 7 0-0 14; Timmond Williams 2 11-14 15; Evan Gutowski 4 2-4 10; Quentar Taylor 4 1-2 9; Jack Therriault 0 0-0 0; Lance Walsh 1 0-0 2. Totals: 24 16-21 66
RIDGEFIELD 19 13 14 27—73
TRUMBULL 11 13 16 26—66
3-Point field goals: R—St. Pierre 3, McGarrity, Briody 3. T—Green 2
Fouled out: R—DeLuca; T—Williams, Taylor
DANBURY 68 WILTON 48
Jaden Cook 3 0-0 6; Jah Joyner 8 3-5 19; Denali Burton 6 3-5 15; Keyon Moore 1 2-6 4; Javon Hernandez 5 5-6 17; Ramir Rivera 1 0-0 2; Marson James 1 0-0 3; Artez Taft 0 1-2 1. Totals: 25 14-26 68
Andrew Smith 3 1-3 8; Tucker Walden 0 2-6 2; Ryan Biberon 1 3-4 5; Nick Kronenberg 2 3-5 8; Kyle Hyzy 3 3-4 9; Ryan Schriber 1 2-3 5; James McKiernan 0 0-0 0; Trevor Martines 0 0-0 0; Zayvion Eusebe 3 2-4 8; Reilly Bingaman 1 0-0 2; Totals:14 18-30 48
DANBURY 16 17 13 21—68
WILTON 5 11 8 23—48
3-Point field goals: D—Hernandez 2, James; W—Smith, Schriber