(Via CPTV Sports – Broadcast Friday, March 7 at 7 p.m.)
WATERBURY >> The Crosby Bulldogs are NVL Champions for the second year in a row and 10th time in the last 11 seasons, after defeating Sacred Heart, 73-64 at Wilby High School on Wednesday night.
“Crosby has a legacy and people expect us to win NVLs,” Crosby senior Lex Perez said. “We didn’t want to let us down or anyone down,”
Perez was named the Tournament MVP after scoring 21 points in the finals win.
“Lex was outstanding,” Crosby coach Nick Augelli said. “I told them Lex would be our key guy. He picked it up.”
After a close first half, Crosby took a one point lead, 30-29, into the locker room where Augelli tried to inspire his team.
“He told us we played bad and we are still up,” Perez said. “Imagine if we played team ball.”
The Bulldogs did that, opening up the half on 16-5 run, getting scoring from five different players.
“We came out with that in our heads and took open shots,” Perez said.
Crosby would extend their lead to 50-36 at the end of the third quarter, outscoring the Hearts 20-7 for the quarter.
“More than anything we go out of sync,” Sacred Heart head coach Jon Carroll said.
The Hearts were also playing without sophomore star and All-NVL selection Mustapha Heron, who missed his second straight game with a knee injury.
“The only thing was that our rotation was shorter,” Carroll said of not having Heron in the lineup. “We were gassed early in the third but they got a second wind.”
The Bulldogs adjusted their defense with the absence of Heron.
“That’s a good team with or without Mustapha,” Augelli said. “They’re an outside team with him and an inside team without him. We adjusted to stuff down on the inside.”
By doing that the Bulldogs bothered Hearts’ Malik Petteway all night holding him to just 16 points.
The Hearts began their comeback with three minutes left in the game down 63-50. Isaiah Rascoe scored on a layup and was fouled.
After he hit the free-throw Crosby’s Aseim King missed two at the line, the Hearts Tyrn Flowers scored and again Rascoe hit a layup. What was once a 13-point lead was quickly six with 2:15 left.
The missed free-throws became a constant in the fourth quarter with the Bulldogs missing six in the final two minutes, 11 in the quarter combined, but the Bulldogs were able to kill time off the clock and avoid being fouled.
“I told them to get the ball and keeping passing it around and don’t get fouled,” said Augelli.
Though the Hearts had chance, the clock was not in their favor.
“We really just ran out of time,” Carroll said.
This was the third meeting of the season between the Bulldogs and the Hearts, with each team winning one on the road. Crosby won the first game, 79-76 and Sacred Heart won the second game, 90-82.
“This is a veteran team, every big game in recent years, Crosby has been involved,” Augelli said. “For Tyshon (Rogers), Lex and Aseim (King) they played in the big game last year, experience played a big factor.”
Crosby 73 Sacred Heart 64
Crosby 14 16 20 23 – 73
Sacred Heart 13 16 7 28 – 64
Crosby (73): Lex Perez 8-4-21; Jarron Chapman 5-4-15; Juan Parrilla 2-0-6; Tyairus Sands 2-1-6; Zarvon Love 1-0-2; Stephon Dunbar 0-0-0; Aseim King 3-2-10; Tyshon Rogers 4-4-13. Totals: 25-15-73.
Sacred Heart (64): Tyrn Flowers 7-2-19; Isaiah Rascoe 7-2-17; Charles Fisher 3-2-8; Malik Petteway 7-2-16; Vin Lombardi 1-0-2; David Whitney 1-0-2; Pat Dempsey 0-0-0; John Molina 0-0-0. Totals: 26-8-64.
3 – point goals: C – Parrilla 2; King 2; Perez; Chapman; Sands; Rogers. SH – Flowers 3; Rascoe.
Updates every minute – View full tournament