THE HOME OF WEST HAVEN SPORTS
BOYS BASKETBALL 2020-2021
State Champions - '87
All-State Players - Mike McMahon '85; Paul McMahon '87; Terry Rountree '91; Ivoree Stanley '95; Bruce Wesley '96; Matt Turner '98; Sly Williams '06
Retired Numbers - Michael McMahon (Class of 1985) #31; Jerry Gambardella (Class of 2000) #21
Off and Running
Loaded Westies ready for 2021
By MIKE MADERA
(February 1, 2021) - Following a tough loss in the quarterfinals of the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament against Hamden, the West Haven boys basketball team was ready to make a deep run in the state tournament last season.
That run never happened when the winter sports season was shut down due to the global pandemic. With the winter sports season ready to go once again, West Haven’s third-year coach Tyrese Sullivan and his squad are ready to make some noise.
With a solid group of returning players and an influx of transfers, West Haven starts the season as one of the teams to beat in the SCC.
“We were definitely disappointed with last year,” Sullivan said. “We definitely thought we had a great shot to go deep in the state tournament last year. We had high hopes and were looking forward to it. It was gone just like that. We have talked about it. This year’s team may be even better. We are really excited to be playing for something.”
Malcolm Duncanson and the Westies are ready for the 2021 season. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Leading the way for West Haven in the 2021 season will be tri-captains senior Malcolm Duncanson, and juniors Javaun Calhoun and Manny Belcher.
Duncanson, an All-League and All-State selection in 2020, is a 6-foot senior guard who averaged 17 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists per game a season ago. Calhoun is a 6’-6” forward who averaged 6 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks per game, while Belcher is a 6’-3” guard who averaged 10 points and 4 rebounds per game.
“They are doing a great job,” Sullivan said of his captains. “We are getting back into the flow of things. The first three days were just conditioning. We wanted to get the timing and their legs back. The guys have responded well. Yesterday was our best practice. We need to be patient.”
Along with the dynamic trio of Duncanson, Calhoun and Belcher, Sullivan will have 6’-0” junior guard Kyle Kearson and 5’-8” senior guard Eli Blackwell to complicate matters for opposing teams. Blackwell is a transfer from Amistad and adds an immediate scoring threat for Sullivan.
West Haven will also get another solid senior player in Notre Dame transfer Cairon Hooks. Hooks is a senior guard who will be counted on to put points on the board.
“I will use the Hillhouse formula,” Sullivan said. “I like four or five guys in double figures every game. The guys have bought into sharing the ball. That will not be an issue with us. We plan on putting big numbers up, scoring in the 70’s each game. We want to go up and down the court, have fun and play team basketball.
“We are disappointed we will not have a shot at a state championship, but we have to move forward. It is a blessing we are able to play. We will make the best of it. We have twelve games and we will make the best of those twelve games. We have twelve games for the seniors to show what they can do and get seen by people. They have responded well.”
While the Westies lost three key players to graduation from last year’s team, they have plenty of talent to make a deep run in the league tournament. The key for the Westies will be staying healthy.
“We have to be healthy,” Sullivan said. “The guys have bought into the philosophy. Everything else will take care of itself. The guys have been off the court for a long time. We have to be careful out there with everyone.
“I like the versatility we have. We have players who can play multiple positions. We do not have a bunch in the same position. It is exciting. It is year three of my program and it takes three years to establish a culture and have the guys adapt to it. These are all my guys. They have adapted my personality.”
West Haven opens the season Tuesday, March 9 at Fairfield Prep at 6 p.m. The Westies open the home season Friday, February 12 against Hillhouse at 7 p.m. Details regarding fan attendance will be announced soon.
Westies top Hillhouse 52-46 in opener
By MIKE MADERA
(February 12, 2021) - The West Haven boys basketball team was looking to get off to a solid start in the 2020-2021 season. In a pandemic year, the Westies have one goal, and that goal is to win the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament.
The Westies started the season on the right foot with a 52-46 victory over Hillhouse at Neil Cavallaro Court at West Haven High Friday evening. Eli Blackwell. a transfer from Amistad, led West Haven with 19 points, including four 3-pointers, while Malcolm Duncanson finished with 17 in the season-opening win.
West Haven started the season with a victory over Hillhouse. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"It's great to get off to a good start and get a quality win against such a historic program like Hillhouse," West Haven coach Ty Sullivan said. "I think our guys came out and played hard. We executed from the start of the game. Hillhouse, like all Hillhouse teams, came out in the third quarter and made it difficult for us. They really challenged us and my guys stepped up to the challenge and we answered. Moving forward, that is going to be very important as the season goes along and we get ready for SCC playoffs."
Matthew Gibbs led Hillhouse with 14 points, while Jeff Carmon added seven.
Read about the season-opening win from Joe Morelli of GameTimeCt below:
WEST HAVEN — It had all the looks of a typical early-season boys basketball game: struggles on offense, unforced turnovers and very few fast-break points.
Add in adjusting to wearing masks under game conditions and Friday’s game between between West Haven and Hillhouse was anything but pretty. But style points don’t count in the Southern Connecticut Conference — wins do.
And for the Westies, they will take the Ws however they come. With Malcolm Duncanson and Eli Blackwell leading the way, West Haven held off Hillhouse 52-46 to open the brand-new Neil Cavallaro Court with a positive result.
“We knew it was going to be ugly. For them to be in this game, it had to be an ugly game we expected that and we were prepared for that,” West Haven coach Ty Sullivan said. “I will take a game like this any day over a 20-point win. It prepares you for championship basketball. You don’t get that experience in practice. There is nothing better than being battle-tested early in the season.”
Said senior guard Duncanson: “We knew Hillhouse was going to play hard. They weren’t going to back down. It wasn’t pretty, but it’s the first game of the season and we figured it out as a team.”
Duncanson has carried the load for West Haven under Sullivan. Sometimes, the load proved too much as he would wear down at the end of games.
Duncanson now has someone who can help shoulder that scoring load on a consistent basis. Blackwell, who transferred in from Amistad, scored a game-high 19 points.
“Eli makes it so much easier to handle a game and takes a lot of pressure off Malcolm,” Sullivan said. “Two guards with experience pretty much did what they wanted to do tonight.”
Duncanson had 17 points and eight rebounds for the Westies.
West Haven has another weapon coming: Kairon Hooks, who transferred over from Notre Dame-West Haven after preseason practice had begun, isn’t eligible to play yet. The 6-foot-4 senior guard can bring some experience and another scoring option.
“He can give us another dimension as a spot-up shooter and slasher,” Sullivan said.
And if others step up like Kyle Kearson did tonight — nine fourth-quarter points — West Haven will be tough to beat.
The Westies scored the game’s first eight points and never trailed. West Haven played stellar defense in the first half (forcing eight turnovers) while committing just one. Blackwell made three 3-pointers in the opening quarter
But West Haven also couldn’t provide the knockout blow.
Hillhouse turned its own half-court defensive pressure up in the third, forcing the Westies into a 1-for-11 shooting period. The Academics trimmed a 12-point halftime deficit (31-19) down to seven (35-28).
But the Academics got no closer than six. Matt Gibbs led the way with 14 points.
“Defensively, we are holding teams to 50 points but it is hard for us to score. We just have to get better,” Hillhouse coach Renard Sutton said.
Yes Hillhouse is young — by Hillhouse’s standards. And it will take time. But after losing the season opener to Amity, the Academics are 0-2 for the first time in decades — and all indications are West Haven beat Hillhouse for the first time since Sullivan played there in the late 1990s.
“We have time to grow up. It’s the pandemic season,” Sutton said. “I’m not trying to sugarcoat anything or try to downplay anything. It’s still Hillhouse, we have to figure out ways to compete. … Right now, we are learning on the job.”
Back in the Mix
Westies return from quarantine with win over Amity
By MIKE MADERA
(February 27, 2021) - The West Haven boys basketball team returned from quarantine with a 67-40 victory over Amity in Woodbridge Saturday evening. The Westies had seven players in the scoring column, including three in double digits, to improve to 2-0 on the year.
West Haven topped Amity, February 27, 2021. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Eli Blackwell led West Haven with 21 points, including three 3-pointers, while Malcolm Duncanson had 15 points and Kairon Hooks added 13 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Manny Belcher also connected on two 3-pointers for six points. Javaun Calhoun had eight points.
The game was even to start as the contest was tied at 12 through eight minutes of play. Calhoun led the way with six points in the opening quarter.
West Haven pulled away for good in the next 16 minutes. The Westies went on a 37-15 run in that time frame, including 19-8 in the second quarter, for a 31-20 halftime lead.
Blackwell and Hooks were the story in the second quarter as the two combined for the 19 points. Blackwell started to heat up with 12 points and Hooks added seven.
In the 18-7 third quarter run, Duncanson was the key as he scored nine of his 15 points. Duncanson scored 13 points in the second half as West Haven rolled in its opening game back.
Westies turn back Law
Duncanson, Blackwell lead way in 54-32 win
By MIKE MADERA
(March 1, 2021) - The West Haven boys basketball team has come back from quarantine looking as if it has not missed a beat. After returning with a win over Amity, the Westies picked up their second straight victory with a 54-32 decision over Jonathan Law Monday evening at West Haven High.
West Haven defeated Law, March 1, 2021. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Eli Blackwell and Malcolm Duncanson led the way with 19 and 10 points, respectively, as Blackwell drained four 3-pointers. Manny Belcher and Kairon Hooks each scored eight in the win.
West Haven was sharp from the outside, connecting on 10 3-pointers in the contest. The Westies jumped out to a nine-point lead early and extended the margin to 26-12 at the half after holding Law to just five points in the second quarter.
Hooks got things started for West Haven in the opening eight minutes as he connected for six points, with Blackwell and Belcher each draining 3-pointers. Kyle Kearson and Blackwell each scored five points in the second quarter as West Haven went on a 10-5 run.
Law battled and got closer in the third, but an 18-9 run in the final eight minutes by West Haven sealed the victory. Blackwell and Belcher did the damage in the final quarter as Blackwell had eight points and Belcher had five.
WH rolls past Shelton
Balanced attack leads to 58-34 victory
By MIKE MADERA
(March 2, 2021) - The West Haven boys basketball team improved to 4-0, including 3-0 since returning from quarantine, with a dominant 58-34 victory over Shelton in Shelton Tuesday evening.
The Westies controlled the game from the start with an eight-point lead in the first quarter and a 31-19 lead at the half. The lead increased to 20 points in the third quarter as West Haven rolled to the victory.
West Haven again was dangerous from the outside, draining 10 3-pointers in the contest. Eli Blackwell hit three and finished with a team-leading 14 points. Manny Belcher, Kyle Kearson, and Kairon Hooks each hit a pair of 3-pointers.
Belcher, Malcolm Duncanson, and Hooks each finished with 10 points in the win.
WH tops Cross
Team improves to 5-0 with victory
By MIKE MADERA
(March 6, 2021) — The West Haven boys basketball team continues to do what it does best. That is win.
Behind a balanced scoring attack, the Westies defeated Wilbur Cross 62-49 at the Floyd Little Athletic Center Friday evening.
Malcolm Duncanson led the way for West Haven with 21 points, Kairon Hooks scored 17 and Eli Blackwell finished with 14 in the win.
Read about the contest from GameTimeCT and Joe Morelli below:
The road to boys basketball success in the Southern Connecticut Conference normally goes through the city of New Haven. The 18 league championships between Wilbur Cross, Hillhouse and Career says so.
If a team can find a way to beat either Hillhouse or Cross in a season, it’s a feather in the cap at the very least and in most cases, the highlight of its regular season. But to beat both teams? That’s league contender status right there.
West Haven is a league contender for the SCC title to be decided later this month. That is the ultimate prize this year with no CIAC state tournaments being held.
The Westies defeated ninth-ranked Cross 62-49 at the Floyd Little Athletic Center Friday night. They have won four straight since returning from a two-week COVID quarantine.
“This game was major for the city of West Haven, for our following,” West Haven coach Ty Sullivan said.
West Haven (5-0) defeated Hillhouse in its season opener on Feb. 12 before going into the quarantine.
“That (the two weeks off) made us want to go get it even more, to play harder,” West Haven senior guard Maurice Williamson said.
Sullivan, a former all-state player at Hillhouse before a lengthy run as an assistant coach under Renard Sutton that delivered three state championships, understands completely the magnitude for a program to beat both Hillhouse and Cross. He also realizes resting on your laurels isn’t an option.
“We have a program not used to having that kind of success,” Sullivan said. “I’m constantly reminding them we haven’t accomplished anything. Our goal is to get to the SCC tournament with a good seed and take it one game at a time when we get there.”
Malcolm Duncanson has been the workhorse for West Haven ever since Sullivan came to West Haven in 2018. He’s still the senior leader, but he has experienced help in a pair of transfers.
Eli Blackwell transferred in from Amistad and Kairon Hooks from Notre Dame-West Haven. Hooks came over after the preseason practice started and, according to Sullivan, won an appeal with the CIAC to become eligible and not have to sit out half the season due to the in-season transfer rule.
“There was an appeal hearing and he won the appeal. There wasn’t a change of address,” Sullivan said. “He gives us another weapon. He is a great talent.”
Said Duncanson: “He can attack off the dribble and also can spot up and shoot, so it makes it a lot easier on me and Eli Blackwell in terms of getting into the lane and having someone else to kick the ball out to and knock it down.”
Duncanson finished with 21 points and eight rebounds. Hooks and Blackwell added 17 and 14 points, respectively. Sullivan credited assistant coach Aaron Johnson with the game plan to help produce the win.
“He brought the scheme to me, we put it together and we executed it,” Sullivan said. “When you have two great leaders like Malcolm Duncanson and Eli Blackwell, it makes our job a lot easier.”
West Haven never trailed against Cross, the reigning two-time league champions. The Governors (6-2) were within two (41-39) midway through the third quarter until West Haven went on a 13-5 run to close out the period and take a 44-34 lead.
Cross never recovered. West Haven held as much as an 18-point lead in the final quarter.
“We just need a better effort. We need to start learning to trust each other and we as coaches have to do a better job of coaching them up,” Wilbur Cross coach Kevin Walton said. ‘It’s a new team and these guys have to learn how to win.”
The Governors figured things out after so-so regular seasons the last two years to turn it on when it mattered most. There is less preparation time with the league tournament scheduled to begin on March 18.
“Our experience from this game will prepare us for the tournament,” Walton said. “This is how you learn, nothing is given, everything is earned. Our kids will continue to work and we will be prepared for whoever we see in the tournament.”Dereyk Grant was the only player from Cross in double figures with 14 points.
Green Knights drop Westies
Team falls to 5-1 with 63-47 loss
By MIKE MADERA
(March 8, 2021) — WEST HAVEN – With a pair of losses entering its rivalry game against West Haven, the Notre Dame-West Haven boys basketball team could have gone one of two ways. For coach Jason Shea, he got to see what his team was made of.
Trailing by five late in the third quarter, the Green Knights turned up their defense and closed the game on a 26-5 run to defeat previously undefeated West Haven 63-47 at Neil Cavallaro Court at West Haven High Monday evening.
“We showed a lot of composure,” Shea said after his team improved to 6-2. “We were calm under pressure. We were able to execute, and we did a great job. We are playing some young guards. They played amazing tonight. I am proud of the entire team.”
Despite this dunk by Javaun Calhoun (13) West Haven fell to Notre Dame-West Haven, March 8, 2021. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Trailing 42-37 after West Haven’s Eli Blackwell hit a pair of free throws late in the third quarter, the Green Knights closed the quarter on an 8-0 run which they eventually stretched to a 52-42 lead with 1 minute, seven seconds gone by in the fourth quarter.
Ben Carroll and Mekhi Conner each scored four points to close out the third quarter, before three free throws and a bucket by Carroll extended the margin to 10 points early in the fourth for Notre Dame.
“I just love the way we came out and played defense tonight,” Carroll said. “If we come out and play defense like that, not many teams are going to be able to play with us.”
For the Westies, the ninth-ranked team in the GameTimeCT Top 10 poll, it was a tale of two halves as they were held to just 15 points in the second half, hitting just five shots from the field, four coming in the third quarter. West Haven’s inability to build on the five-point lead proved to be the difference in the contest.
“As the leader of the program, I need to do a better job of getting these guys ready to play and I will,” West Haven coach Tyrese Sullivan said after his team fell to 5-1. “After dealing with the success we have had, we need to be ready. This one is on me. As the leader of the program, I have to have the team ready and I will. Sometimes basketball is like that. Notre Dame wanted it a little more. We had the lead and could not build on it. We did not take advantage.”
After a pair of free throws by Javaun Calhoun got West Haven within 52-44 with 6:42 remaining, the Green Knights went on a 7-0 run on buckets by Timaury Gay and Robert Oliverio for a 59-44 lead. Calhoun drained a 3-pointer to get West Haven within 12 with 2:35 remaining, but the Green Knights sealed the contest from the free throw line.
“I think they (West Haven) had an off night shooting,” Shea said. “That happens. Our guys were really scrambling out there and we did not give them much.”
Carroll finished with a game-high 23 points, including 10 in the second half. Conner had 16 points, 10 coming in the first half, and James Rawlins finished with nine points as Notre Dame had seven players in the scoring column.
“I think the two losses woke us up,” Carroll said. “I felt like we needed to have this game. The energy started to shift (end of third quarter) and we held it down on defense. I loved the energy we brought tonight.”
The Westies had three players in double figures, led by Blackwell’s 14 points. Calhoun finished with 12 points and Malcolm Duncanson had 10 in the loss, including the 1,000th of his career.
“We got punched in the eye tonight,” Sullivan said. “That happens sometimes. They got the best of us tonight. You have to credit Notre Dame.”
West Haven held a 30-24 second quarter lead on a basket by Kyle Kearson, before the Green Knights closed the first half on a 9-2 run. 3-pointers by Conner and Oliverio evened the game at 30 for the Green Knights with 1:54 left in the half.
Duncanson, who scored his 1,000th career point earlier in the contest to give West Haven a 19-14 advantage, then hit another bucket to put the Westies up 32-30. A basket by Carroll and a free throw by Matthew Dobie put Notre Dame on top by one at the half.
Carroll was on fire for the Green Knights as he scored 13 first half points, including seven in the second quarter. Carroll also connected for three 3-pointers in the opening 16 minutes.
Blackwell was just as torrid for the Westies in the opening half as he drained three 3-pointers in the first quarter, and finished with 12 points in the first half. Blackwell gave West Haven leads on three separate occasions with the 3-pointer, putting the Westies on top 5-3, 8-5 and 15-14 in the opening quarter.
Westies rebound to top East Haven
Trio leads way in 68-49 victory
By MIKE MADERA
(March 9, 2021) - A day after suffering its first defeat of the year in a 68-49 loss to cross-town rival Notre Dame, the West Haven boys basketball team rebounded. Getting off to a quick start, the Westies improved to 6-1 with a 68-49 victory over East Haven Tuesday evening at West Haven High.
West Haven led by 12 points after eight minutes of play and 40-20 at the half. The 20-point lead was more than enough for West Haven in the 19-point victory.
The Westies had three players in double digits and were led by Eli Blackwell with 21 points. Kairon Hooks finished with 18 points, while Malcolm Duncanson finished with 13 and Javaun Calhoun had nine.
Ian Reynolds and Nick Furino had 15 and 14 points, respectively, for East Haven.
Blackwell leads Westies past Foran
Senior scores 42 points in 97-42 victory
By MIKE MADERA
(March 12, 2021) - The West Haven boys basketball team has bounced back from its initial loss of the season with two impressive victories to improve to 7-1. The latest victory came Friday evening against Foran when the Westies dominated from the start in a 97-42 victory at West Haven High.
West Haven controlled the game from the start, leading 26-6 after eight minutes of play and 55-19 at the half.
Eli Blackwell was the star of the game with 42 points, while Malcolm Duncanson scored 17, and 10 different players reached the scoring column.
Blackwell was on fire from the start with 14 points in the opening quarter and 16 more in the second quarter for 30 first half points. Duncanson scored four points in the opening quarter and seven in the second for 11 points in the opening half.
The Westies never stopped, scoring 22 points in the third quarter, led by 10 from Blackwell and five from Javaun Calhoun.
Kyle Kearson finished with nine points for West Haven, while Adam Elkharraz added eight n the win.
Westies cruise past Career
Sheffield, Calhoun lead way in 67-42 win
By MIKE MADERA
(March 13, 2021) - The West Haven boys basketball team improved to 8-1 with a 67-42 victory over Career Saturday afternoon.
West Haven had nine players in the scoring column and was led by Wade Sheffield with 16 points, Javaun Calhoun with 15 and Eli Blackwell with 11. Sheffield and Manny Belcher each drained a pair of 3-pointers in the win.
The Westies jumped out to a quick lead in the contest and never looked back as the Westies held Career to just 13 points in the first half, including just four in the second quarter to take a commanding 33-13 halftime lead.
West Haven prevented any thoughts of a Career comeback with a 21-9 run in the third quarter for a 54-22 advantage.
Five in a Row
Westies improve to 9-1 with 91-62 win over Career
By MIKE MADERA
(March 15, 2021) - The West Haven boys basketball team improved to 9-1 with a 91-62 victory over Career Monday evening in West Haven. The Westies have won four straight games since losing to Notre Dame.
Once again, West Haven received balanced scoring with 11 players in the scoring column. Three players were in double figures and West Haven was led by Eli Blackwell with 23 points, Malcolm Duncanson with 22 points and Wade Sheffield with 14 points. Javaun Calhoun added nine points in the victory, while Randy Alston chipped in seven.
West Haven used a quick start to take control of the game, opening with a 23-6 run. The Westies led 48-21 at the half and never looked back.
On to the Finals
Westies to face ND after rallying past Cross
By MIKE MADERA
(March 23, 2021) - WEST HAVEN – It was over and then it wasn’t. That is the way both the Wilbur Cross and West Haven boys basketball teams felt in the final seconds of regulation in the Southern Connecticut Conference semifinals.
With Cross leading by three points and West Haven seemingly out of time, the ball was ruled out of bounds with 0.3 seconds to go in the fourth quarter. West Haven set up a play which would have Eli Blackwell attempt a 3-pointer.
Blackwell was fouled while taking the 3-pointer and calmly hit all three free throws to force overtime. West Haven outscored Cross 13-9 in the extra session and narrowly prevailed over the two-time defending SCC champions 64-58 in front of a raucous crowd at Neil Cavallaro Court at West Haven High Tuesday evening.
West Haven celebrates its win over Wilbur Cross, March 23, 2021. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
“We drew up a play where Eli was going to catch and shoot,” West Haven coach Tyrese Sullivan said. “They fouled him and he was able to come through. You hate for it to happen like that (controversy), but it is part of the game.
“Cross played a heck of a game. I have much love and respect for coach Kevin (Walton). He had a great game plan. They controlled the pace of the game They made it difficult for us.”
With the victory, top-seeded West Haven (11-1) plays third-seeded Notre Dame in the SCC finals Friday evening at a site and time to be determined. The Green Knights dealt West Haven its only loss of the season earlier in the year.
“We definitely want that,” Blackwell said of the chance to avenge West Haven’s only loss of the year. “We had an off night and they wanted it more the last time we played them.”
While the Westies get a shot at the league title, two-time defending SCC champ Cross (8-4) left West Haven feeling as if the title was taken from them. Cross head coach Kevin Walton left no doubt about that after the game.
“You can’t dribble the ball with 0.3 seconds to go,” Walton said of the play prior to the foul ending regulation. “The time runs out. Tell me how that happens. Tell me. They had 46 (43) free throws tonight. You cannot take the game away from the kids. We deserved to win this game tonight. Everybody in this gym knows we won this game tonight.”
After a basket by Jarel Delgado (16 points) put Cross up 49-46 in the final seconds, West Haven forced a shot which did not go. The ensuing play saw the ball called out of bounds and West Haven given a final opportunity. Blackwell was fouled as time expired and drained all three to force the overtime.
“It starts with our leaders,” Blackwell said. “We knew it was not over until the clock said zero. We knew we had to keep playing. We had the heart to keep it up.”
Malcolm Duncanson hit a 3-pointer to give West Haven a 52-49 lead to start overtime, before Cross evened the contest on a bucket by Cristian McClease. Duncanson and McClease matched 3-pointers for a 55-55 game, before Delgado nailed a 3-pointer for a 58-57 Cross lead with 1:37 to go in overtime.
Blackwell again gave West Haven the lead with a pair of free throws with 1:19 left and Kairon Hooks extended the lead to 60-58 with a free throw. Cross then missed two inside shots, before West Haven advanced with the final four points.
“My guys came to play as well,” Sullivan said. “We fought and we showed resiliency in this game. We found a way.”
Cross controlled the pace of the game, forcing West Haven to spend a lot of energy catching up. West Haven finally took the lead at 38-36 on a bucket by Blackwell to start the fourth quarter. The lead was West Haven’s first since a 2-0 lead to start the contest.
Delgado gave Cross a 43-41 advantage, and a free throw by Noah Rainge increased the Cross lead to 45-42 with 1:45 left in regulation. West Haven then went on top with 53.9 seconds left, but Cross scored the next four points to set the final frantic moments of regulation.
“We won this game tonight and everybody knows it,” Walton said. “We won in spite of them taking over 40 free throws. They know that’s not right. These kids worked hard. They played hard. I am not taking anything away from West Haven. They played a great game. It was a great game, but the refs cannot decide the game. It is not how the game should be decided. You are supposed to beat the champion, not take the championship away from them.”
Cross controlled the pace in the first half and took a 24-21 lead to the third quarter. Behind eight points from Dereyk Grant, the Governors had West Haven in a 21-14 hole until West Haven went on a 7-3 run to end the half.
A basket, then two free throws by Duncanson got the Westies within 21-19 with 1:11 left in the second quarter, but a basket by Namumba Santos had Cross back up by four.
Duncanson finished the first half with 10 points for the Westies, with eight coming in the second quarter when West Haven got back in the game.
The Governors were on fire from the outside to start the contest, with Delgado, McClease and Grant draining 3-pointers for a 9-2 lead. West Haven got as close as 9-8 in the opening eight minutes on a bucket and free throw by Hooks, but Grant drained another 3-pointer and Santos closed the scoring in the quarter for a 15-10 Cross advantage after 16 minutes.
Grant finished with 13 points and McClease had 11 in the loss for Cross. Duncanson led West Haven with 26 points and Hooks added 10.
Westies run past ND in SCC title game
By MIKE MADERA
(March 26, 2021) - NEW HAVEN – West Haven coach Tyrese Sullivan is known as a player’s coach. Watching the celebration following the Southern Connecticut Conference final told the story.
Behind a 35-8 run, top-seeded West Haven avenged an earlier season loss by defeating second-seeded Notre Dame to take home the SCC Division I title at the Floyd Little Athletic Center Friday afternoon.
“I am a player’s coach,” Sullivan said. “Relationships are everything. You have to have a relationship with your players. I call them. I text them. I joke with them. I check up on them. We teach them life lessons. That is what it is all about. It is way bigger than basketball.”
The Westies looked as if they would suffer the same fate as in the initial meeting with the Green Knights as Notre Dame jumped out to a 21-10 lead in the first quarter. The Westies were not got to be denied this time, following with 35 of the next 43 points to take a 45-29 lead in the third quarter.
“We knew they were going to come out shooting,” West Haven’s Malcolm Duncanson said after finishing with 6 points. “We played together as a team.”
West Haven opened the third quarter on a 14-0 run started by Duncanson, which also included seven points by Eli Blackwell. Blackwell finished with 16 points in the game, including 12 in the second half.
Kairon Hooks was also a force for the Westies as he scored 14 points, including eight in the first half. When Hooks executed a perfect slam dunk late in the fourth quarter to give the Westies a 60-42 lead, the title was sealed with an exclamation point.
“There is no other thing like this,” Hooks said. “We already knew what we had to do. We watched film and Coach (Sullivan) had a great game plan. It was all defense.”
The Green Knights came out firing in the first half, taking a 21-10 lead in the opening quarter on torrid shooting. Notre Dame’s Timaury Gay drained three 3-ponters in the opening eight minutes as Notre Dame hit three from behind the arc.
West Haven struggled offensively in the opening quarter, despite 3-pointers from Hooks and Manny Belcher.
Trailing by 11 points, the Westies began a 13-0 run with a 3-pointer by Belcher and a bucket by Kyle Kearson (18 points) to end the quarter. The Westies then opened the second quarter with the first eight points, including 3-pointers by Kearson and Hooks, and a bucket by Hooks to take a 23-21 lead.
“We knew they were going to come at us early,” Sullivan said. “They punched us in the face early. We talked about what we needed to do. We learned from the first time.”Notre Dame took leads of 26-25 and 29-27 on 3-pointers by Robert Oliverio, before West Haven closed the half with buckets by Belcher and Duncanson for a 31-29 advantage.