NEW HAVEN — Timmond Williams and his Trumbull teammates were not going to be denied a trip to the Division I boys basketball state tournament quarterfinals again.
After falling by a basket at Wilbur Cross last winter, the Eagles returned to the Elm City on Wednesday night for a Division I second-round showdown against Hamden at the Floyd Little Athletic Center.
Powered by Williams and his game-high 28 points, fifth-seeded Trumbull rolled to a wire-to-wire 76-61 victory over the No. 13 seed Green Dragons.
The Eagles quarterfinal opponent will be the winner of Thursday night’s contest between Sacred Heart and Fairfied Prep at a neutral site on March 11.
“We feel we’re a top team in the state,” Williams said. “With the Sacred Hearts and the East Catholics. We just wanted to come out and make a point.”
The win also had added significance for long-time Trumbull head coach Buddy Bray, as it was the 300th of his career.
“It’s exciting,” Bray said. “Thank god for my wife, she’s an angel. My son is on the coaching staff. Some of my coaches here are former captains and players… I’m just as happy for them.”
Trumbull opened the game on a 7-0 run, capped by a layup from Chris Brown following a steal. That led to a Green Dragon timeout with 4:48 left in the first. Hamden then rattled off a 9-4 flurry of its own, before Williams’ spinning layup closed out the quarter with Trumbull leading 13-9.
Williams then took over in the second quarter, sinking four 3-pointers and a putback of one of his few misses en route to 14 points in the frame.
“I just shoot,” Williams said. “If I’m open I know I’m going to make it.”
His fourth long-range jumper at the 1:52 mark give Trumbull (19-4) its largest lead of the half at 34-18.
“You have to put pressure on them but then you leave some things open,” Hamden head coach Jarrad Beck said. “We had to try to pick our poison.”
Justice Washington, who led the Dragons with 17 points, continued to dominate the offensive glass for Hamden (16-8) over the next 90 seconds, converting a pair of offensive rebounds into baskets to pull Hamden to within 34-22 at the half.
“We were really concerned about their size,” Bray said. “We weren’t happy with the amount of second shots they got. Their length was something we didn’t see in our league all year.”
The Eagles came flying out of the gates to start the third quarter, ripping off 13-4 burst to extend its margin to 47-26. Williams notched an old-fashioned three-point play to finish off the flourish and Trumbull controlled the game the rest of the way.
Hamden whittled the gap down to 61-48 on a Washington basket with 4:53 left, but that was as close as the Green Dragons got.
Next up, will face either Sacred Heart or Fairfield Prep, both of which have championship pedigree.
“We let the kids know it’s a new season now,” Bray said. “It comes very quickly. You’ve got to be prepared.”