UNCASVILLE — De’Andre Williams scored 15 of his 18 points to earn tournament MVP laurels for top seed St. Bernard, which defeated No. 2 seed Stonington 57-43 Tuesday night to win the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II championship before a crowd of 1,933 at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
“It definitely was (a dream first half) and it was a dream finish,” Williams said. “I tried to play my same game, but in front of all the people and the lights, it’s a little bit different, but it’s all good.”
It’s a three-peat for the Saints (19-4) and a dominating first-half performance to make it so. Max Lee added 15 points for St. Bernard.
“We didn’t expect Williams to come out and make every shot he took. That’s just great playing by him,” Stonington coach John Luzzi said.
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St, Bernard hit Stonington with a 14-2 run, starting with 5 minutes gone in the game turned a three-point lead into 15 (24-9), forcing Stonington to spend a pair of timeouts.
Lee had seven points for the Saints during that run. The Saints shot 15 of 25 rom the floor in the opening half.
“The first half, I can’t explain to you what happened,” Luzzi said. “We were flat-footed like our feet were in cement. I think the moment kind of got to them and it took a little while to shake that. … Credit to them, they won the game, but you didn’t see our team in the first half, you saw our team in the second half. Unfortunately, we had a hole too big.”
St. Bernard also scored the last six points of the first half. Then Joe Beltran made a 3-pointer to start the second half and give the Saints their largest lead at 36-14.
“De’Andre took over the game. It was amazing what he did tonight. I told him, ‘This was the most clutch performance I have ever seen,’” Lee said.
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That left the Bears chasing the rest of the way. They got as close as eight, 48-40, on Cooper Wall’s 3-pointer with 2:18 left.
But the Saints were already in the double bonus and made eight of nine free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
R.J. Parrille scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half for the Bears (17-6) as they tried to mount a comeback. Jacob Geary added 10 points.
“We almost clawed our way back against a really good team with a really good floor general,” Luzzi said. “We coached a bad first half, we played a bad first half.”