The fifth-seeded Holy Cross boys basketball team rolled to a 73-34 Class S first round win over No. 28 Wamogo on Monday night.
The Crusaders won in a blowout, but not until after they struggled in the first quarter. Maybe it was a week off in between games. Maybe it was overlooking an opponent. Holy Cross trailed Wamogo 7-4 with 3:29 left in the first quarter. The Crusaders struggled to find their shots against the Warrior zone.
Holy Cross head coach Ed Generali told his team to attack the zone.
"You got to penetrate the gaps and look to dish," Generali said he told his team.
Senior Justin Strielkauskas, a strong ball-handler, attacked from the baseline. He ended up with 13 points.
Strielkauskas also had the assignment of defending 6-foot-5 sophomore Garrett Coe, who will be a force in his final two years in the Berkshire League. Coe had 18 points, but he had to work for them.
"[Justin] was able to body that kid up quite a bit," Generali said.
Holy Cross hadn't seen Wamogo play, but it knew about Coe. The plan was to beat the Warriors down the court and use their depth to wear them out.
"We figured we had to do what we do," Generali said.
Deandre Wallace was back for Holy Cross, and it made a major difference. Wallace tallied 16 points and 16 rebounds. Generali said after the game that "getting Deandre Wallace back is huge." Wallace was indeed huge.
Suffocating pressure defense and good depth helped Holy Cross run past Wamogo. Next up is No. 12 University, which dispatched No. 21 Waterbury Career Academy 67-56 in their first round game. The Crusaders beat WCA 70-49 on Jan. 22. The Holy Cross-University game is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tipoff on Wednesday.
University is from the Constitution State Conference. Outside of the CSC, the Hawks played a tough schedule. There were games against Bloomfield, Simsbury, Notre Dame-Fairfield, Granby and Wilby. University won a CSC Tournament quarterfinal game against Parish Hill before losing to Abbott Tech in the semifinal round.
Generali and Holy Cross will be happy to be back in The Pit for another home game. At stake is a trip to the Class S state quarterfinals.