NEW CANAAN — They have had their eyes on the prize all season. And now, it is finally within their grasp.
The St. Luke’s boys basketball team advanced to the Fairchester Athletic Association (FAA) boys basketball tournament final Tuesday night by downing No. 4 seed Brunswick, 87-52 before a thrilled home crowd.
The win means that No. 1 seed St. Luke’s (20-4 overall) will host No. 2 seed Greens Farms Academy Thursday at a time to be determined with the 2020 FAA Tourney title on the line. GFA edged Hamden Hall, 52-51 in Tuesday’s other FAA semifinal.
While St. Luke’s has won four of the last five FAA Boys Basketball regular season titles, the Storm will be looking for its first FAA Boys Basketball Tournament crown since the 2016-17 campaign.
“We lost tragically in last year’s FAA Tournament final,” said St. Luke’s senior tri-captain Chuck Clemons. “We want to win that title this time around.”
It was an emotional tournament final last season as Hamden Hall outlasted St. Luke’s, 88-82 in double overtime at the Storm’s gymnasium.
St. Luke’s saw Hamden Hall forge a tie in the closing seconds of the first overtime. Two St. Luke’s players went off injured in the second overtime session.
St. Luke’s made sure that Brunswick didn’t provide any drama in Tuesday’s semifinal. St. Luke’s had defeated Brunswick by 25 and 20 points in two regular-season meetings.
The Storm used runs of 11-0 and 15-2 to build a 45-28 halftime cushion. An 8-2 surge settled things for good at 59-32 with 10:32 left to go.
Tristan Joseph (17 points) paced Brunswick, which ends its season at 8-15 overall.
“We were focused on having a good start. We talked a lot about defense and rebounding,” said St. Luke’s coach Tony Newsom said. “Everybody played. And everybody gave us a lift tonight.”
Since the FAA plays basketball with the 30-second shot clock, the depth and balance of the St. Luke’s squad was very impressive.
Chuck Clemons paced the Storm attack with a game-high 24 points including 16 in the second half. Senior tri-captain Gavin Greene finished with 16 points, 12 in the first half. Center Lewis Cropper had all 11 of his points in the paint in the first half.
“Our captains set the tone. They show the younger guys the way,” said St. Luke’s coach Newsom as 10 of the 11 Storm players scored. “The guys are committed to sharing the ball. They always make the extra pass. They don’t care who is doing the scoring.”
“Coach Newsom preaches ‘It’s not about one, it’s about all of us.’ We do it all together,” St. Luke’s Greene said. “We play for each other at both ends of the floor.”
As was the case Tuesday with Brunswick, St. Luke’s will be meeting GFA for the third time this season in Thursday’s FAA Tournament final. St. Luke’s slew the Dragons, 61-55 back on Dec. 11 at home as well as 70-54 on February 13 at GFA.
“All season long, we’ve taken it one game at a time. And the FAA Tournament final is the next game,” St. Luke’s coach Newsom said. “We just need to continue to do things together.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
St. Luke’s Chuck Clemons: The senior tri-captain collected a game-high 24 points as the Storm had six players score at least seven points.
“St. Luke’s deserved the win. They are tough at home. They are tough on the road. It’s a great basketball program,” said Brunswick’s third-year coach Steve Juricek. “We had our ups and downs this season. We were plagued by injury. But sometimes that’s how a season rolls. We’re building a culture.”