When Maximus Edwards sank two free throws with just over five minutes to play, the Bunnell boys basketball team had a 10-point lead and looked headed to a win over Ridgefield in Wednesday night’s opening round of the Bunnell Holiday Hardwood Tournament in Stratford.
But trailing 46-36, Ridgefield switched its defense to a nearly full-court press that began producing turnovers. And led by senior shooting guard James St. Pierre, the Tigers converted enough of those possessions into points to rally for a 60-55 victory and stay undefeated (4-0).
“After not being poised or confident on offense in the first three quarters, we really turned it around,” said Ridgefield head coach Andrew McClellan, whose team will play fellow unbeaten Bassick in the tournament’s championship game Friday night (7 p.m.) at Bunnell High School. “We scored 26 of our 60 points in the fourth quarter.”
St. Pierre accounted for 16 of those points, going eight-for-eight from the foul line in the final eight minutes. He finished with a game-high 29 points and added six assists for the Tigers.
With Ridgefield down by six points and just over two minutes left, Luke McGarrity hit a three-pointer to cut Bunnell’s lead in half. Matt Misurelli then stole the ball and made a layup to get Ridgefield within one point.
St. Pierre’s three-pointer in the final minute put the Tigers ahead, 55-53. Ridgefield then made its free throws to close out the win.
“Bunnell is a good team, so I’m proud that our guys persevered,” McClellan said. “It was a good sign that we could come back and win against a team like that after struggling so much on offense for three quarters.”
Notes: Ridgefield trailed 28-26 at halftime and 39-34 through three quarters.
— The Tigers made 13-of-14 free throws in the fourth quarter after going just 3-for-13 from the line before that.
— Chris Knachel finished with 10 points and six rebounds for Ridgefield. McGarrity added six points and Misurelli had five points. Derek Szpakowski (four points), Cameron Andry (three) and Nick Hall (three) also scored for the Tigers, while Johnny Briody contributed five rebounds and five steals. Andry drew three charges, including two in the final quarter.
— Edwards led Bunnell (2-3) with 22 points. Elijah Alexander had eight points and Javon Wilson had seven.
— Bassick (4-0) beat Masuk, 77-47, in the other first-round game Wednesday.