WATERBURY — Crosby’s boys basketball players weren’t going to be denied this time.
Just days after letting slip a big lead in a loss to rival Holy Cross, which denied head coach Nick Augelli his 700th career victory in his second attempt, Crosby again found itself trailing to start the third quarter at Waterbury Career Academy.
But this time, the Bulldogs didn’t continue to wilt. They blasted off.
Bolstered by a 24-point night by senior guard Justin Davis, Crosby went on a 10-0 run to take control of the game and — finally — get Augelli his milestone with a 78-70 victory Friday night.
“I couldn’t wait til it was over,” said Augelli, now in his 41st season as head coach. “I don’t know if it was pressure on me or on the players, because they wanted to get it for me. They’re an outstanding group of players that I have and they were pulling for me just as much as everybody else. They came through tonight.
“I’m glad it’s over. To me, it’s not about me, it’s about the team. So I’m glad it’s over.”
Augelli is just the second CIAC boys basketball coach to reach the 700-victory plateau. He was already the CIAC’s second-leading coach in all-time victories behind St. Joseph’s Vito Montelli, who ended his 50-year career in 2012 with 878.
Augelli, 73, had been stuck on 699 all-time for two consecutive games: An 84-67 loss at Sacred Heart and then Tuesday’s 63-58 loss to Holy Cross.
Crosby (10-5) led by double digits early in the second quarter, but WCA (7-8) — which was led by a game-high 25 points by Zion Lott and 17 by Jonathan Edwards — rallied to within 37-31 at halftime and then took a 55-53 lead after three quarters.
Augelli didn’t need to remind his team what was at stake.
“I didn’t anything to them,” he said. “I did say something when we got beat the last game. I said: Listen, I haven’t said anything about 700 wins, yet, but I’d like to get it before the end of season.”
This time, Crosby left no doubt and put the game away with a 10-0 run. Crosby hit four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, including two by Jonathan Rivera (12 points) and one apiece from Jose Soares (20 points) and Davis.
“We really wanted this for him,” Davis said. “He deserves this. He deserves this.”
He’s still 178 away from the all-time CIAC mark held by Montelli. “I don’t have to worry about this for another 10-or-15 years… and I won’t be around,” he said with a laugh. “Vito has … a lot. That’s a lot of wins.
“This is the best group of players I’ve had in a long time. They’re great kids. I’m glad I did it with this team.