WATERBURY – There are plenty of banners throughout the Palace at Crosby High School. One in particular recognizes the accomplishment of the 2005-06 Bulldogs’ team.
That Crosby team was the NVL tournament champion. The banner also recognizes the “NVL Record: 61-game winning streak.”
Here we are 14 years later, at the Palace on a Friday night, and Sacred Heart now has 50 more consecutive wins against Naugatuck Valley League competition.
That’s right, 111 straight after second-ranked Sacred Heart defeated Crosby 74-63.
“When they got down tonight, you can see they didn’t panic. You get that confidence you are going to win. You feel like you are going to win every game,” said longtime Crosby coach Nick Augelli, who owned the previous streak. “They feel they are going to win and we hope we are going to win.”
The last time the Hearts lost was to — you guessed it — Crosby in the 2014 NVL tournament final. So the streak is quickly approaching six years.
“I don’t think anybody in the state can mess with us. We are playing too aggressive. No one,” said Sacred Heart junior guard Lorenzo Washington, who scored 38 points.
Back in 2014, Mustapha Heron was just coming into his own as a star. He led the Hearts to three straight state championships.
After he graduated, it was Raheem Solomon and Isiah Gaiter who led the way for two years. Last season, Nate Tabor and Jamaal Waters dominated the NVL.
Now, it’s Washington’s turn.
The silky-smooth guard, who transferred in last January, scored 25 in the second half against Crosby.
“The continuity there even though it’s different faces,” Sacred Heart coach Jon Carroll said. “Practices are the same, drills are the same, concepts are the same and more times than not, they buy in put them in places to score and contribute so by the time a freshman or sophomore comes through, they have to become a pretty good high school basketball player. Otherwise, they are never seeing the floor.”
— GameTimeCT (@GameTimeCT) January 11, 2020
Here is the most interesting stat about Washington’s 38 points: No 3-pointers. Everything was either at the basket or at the free-throw line.
“It felt like a lot less my teammates they gave me the ball in open spots and let me finish and do what I do,” Washington said.
Said Augelli: “Sacred Heart is not as strong as they used to be. But when it came down to crunch time, we had no one to guard him. He played outstanding.”
Crosby (4-3) and Sacred Heart (5-0) were tied at 43 with 1:20 left in the third quarter. Trevahn Duncan hit a 3-pointer to give the Hearts the lead for good.
It was a 13-2 run in the fourth quarter that put the game away for the Hearts in the final quarter.
Sacred Heart switched from man-to-man to a box-and-one on defense. The one was Justin Davis and several took a turn defending the senior guard, including Washington.
“The nice part about Lorenzo is he plays 32 minutes and it’s both sides of the court,” Carroll said. “We switched guys off Justin because he you have to is a tough cover, too. But Lorenzo plays hard for 32 minutes, both ends of the floor. It’s got to be fun watching him play. Some of the floaters and the one-on-three 3s you live with as a coach because he is that kind of player.”
Davis finished with 24 points.
“We were trying to make (Davis) go left, use his left hand. He is a great player. He can pretty much shoot from anywhere. He is fast and can get to the basket, so we just tried to slow him down,” Washington said.
Alex Batista and Andre Pierre each added 12 points for Crosby. Duncan was the only other one in double figures for the Hearts with 11 points. Connor Tierney, Sacred Heart’s 7-foot center, was a non-factor with just eight points.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” Augelli said. “I couldn’t fault their effort out there, but the talent wasn’t there. We couldn’t put the ball in the basket.”
So the beat goes on for the Hearts. Holy Cross gets the next chance to end the streak on Wednesday night at home.
“We didn’t play a pristine game by any stretch,” Carroll said. “Obviously there is stuff we can work on in terms of clock management, Blocking out and defensive rebounding was kind of a bugaboo for us tonight, but overall, I love the effort.”
Player of the game
Lorenzo Washington, Sacred Heart: Finished with a game-high 28 points, including 25 in the seocnd half, to lead the Hearts past Crosby.
“Every day I want to be the best player in the gym so whoever the best player is on the other team, I’m going to take that task and guard him as best as I can.” — Sacred Heart guard Lorenzo Washington