NEW CANAAN – Jackson Benigni and Tre Breland were a duo that wouldn’t be denied on Saturday.
Making clutch shots throughout, Benigni and Breland combined for 58 points for Hamden Hall Country Day, which successfully defended its Fairchester Athletic Association title.
In a game that could be labeled an instant classic, Hamden Hall edged St. Luke’s School, 88-82, in double overtime in the championship game of the FAA Boys Basketball Tournament in New Canaan.
Benigini scored a game-high 34 points, while Breland poured in 24 points for the Hornets.
“It was just great to play with all these guys, we’ve been saying since the summer that we wanted to get here,” Benigni said. “But we know the goal’s not done yet, we want to win the NEPSAC championship – we’re determined to get New Englands.”
The score was tied at 69-69 heading into the first overtime and knotted at 79-79 in the second overtime. Breland made a pair of free throws and Benigni converted a reverse layup, putting Hamden Hall ahead for good at 83-79 with 3:01 remaining in the second overtime.
Jakhi Pettway’s two foul shots put the visiting Hornets on top, 85-79 at the 1:03 mark. They held the Storm to three points in the second overtime session.
“In the second overtime we just stayed composed and just play our game that we’ve been playing all year and we beat them down the stretch,” Benigni said.
Added Breland: “We were fired up from the beginning we wanted to play here. We played hard the whole entire game. I give props to the whole team, from the people on the bench cheering for us to everyone – it took us all to win this game.”
While Breland, a forward, and Benigni, a guard, paced the Hornets’ offensively, guards Tim Dawson (13 points) and Christian Adams (13 points) also kept the points coming for the victors.
“We knew St. Luke’s was going to come in here fired up, so we needed a lot of energy from a lot of guys,” Hamden Hall coach Sean Doherty said. “I was worried about us keeping our composure and our guys did a great job of doing that. Jackson was phenomenal, he is such a workhorse. He is such a well-rounded kid and leader. I’m glad we have him back for another year.”
The Hornets trailed 67-65, but Breland converted a jump shot off the dribble, knotting the score at 67-67 with 2:46 to go. Benigini’s layup off a steal put the visitors on top, 69-67, but the Storm forced overtime with a basket from guard Gavin Greene in the final minute
St. Luke’s received a team-best 28 points from Greene and 16 points from Chuck Clemons, both of whom propelled the backcourt. Forward Christian Jones added 17 points, while Kenny Soares had 12 points in the loss.
“I told our players they did everything I asked them to do,” St. Luke’s coach Tony Newsom said. “Hamden Hall is a good, talented team, that just made a couple more plays than we did. I’m going to miss coaching this team. They were an unselfish group that worked hard and played for each other. It’s a very tough loss, I thought we had them in the first overtime, but they just made a few more plays.”
Breland scored 14 first-half points, while Benigini tallied 22 points after halftime. Greene totaled 16 points during the second half and overtime periods.
“Jackson scoring so much opened the floor for me,” Breland said. “Thanks to my teammates for passing the ball to me.”
HAMDEN HALL 88, ST. LUKE’S 82 (2 OT)
HAMDEN HALL 38 31 10 9 – 88
ST. LUKE’S 31 38 10 3 – 82
HAMDEN HALL (88)
Tre Breland 8 7-9 24; Tim Dawson 5 2-4 13; Christian Adams 4 3-4 13; Jackson Begnini 12 8-14 34; Jakhi Pettway 2 0-0 4; Chris Cahill 0 0-0 0. Totals: 31 20-31 88.
ST. LUKE’S (82)
Jahki Washington 1 0-0 2; Kenny Soares 6 0-0 12; Gavin Greene 13 2-2 28; Chuck Cleamons 5 3-4 16; Cole Bryant 2 0-0 5; Christian Jones 6 5-8 17; Scott Volmer 1 0-0 2. Totals: 34 10-14.
3-pointers: HH – Adams 2, Begnini 2; Breland, Dawson; SL: Cleamons 3, Greene 2, Bryant.