Saturday, March 10, 2018

St. Paul boys fall to Torrington in Division III second round game

St. Paul's Tyler Arbuckle launches a 3-pointer as teammate Darek Wiecki gets into position
under the basket during Friday night's game at Torrington.(Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
The St. Paul boys basketball team got another shot at Torrington on Friday night at Torrington High School when the teams met in the second round of the Division III state tournament.
In the regular season meeting, an 81-59 win by the Red Raiders, the home side buried 14 3-pointers.
"We decided we were going to try to not let it happen," Falcons head coach Steve Phelps said.
St. Paul played the most man-to-man it had all season -- all 32 minutes of Friday's game -- and slowed down the high-octane Torrington offense. The problem was the Falcons couldn't score enough themselves, and the Red Raiders (15-7) moved on with a 56-51 victory in the Connie Donahue Gymnasium.
St. Paul finished with a record of 14-10. It was the final game in a Falcon uniform for Mike Palmieri, Matt Garry, Tyler Arbuckle, Seth Foley, Darek Wiecki and Brian Considine. Arbuckle had 19 points while Palmieri added 10.
"Our shots didn't go in," Phelps said. "They just didn't go in."
The sour taste of the loss didn't take away from St. Paul's effort on defense.
"I couldn't be any prouder of our defensive effort tonight and the way we executed," Phelps said.
The Falcons and Red Raiders struggled out of the gate with the visitors claiming a 9-8 lead after one quarter. St. Paul trailed 8-3 with 3:39 to go in the opening quarter, but outscored Torrington 6-0 from there.
The Falcons led 24-17 with 2:50 to play until halftime, but the Red Raiders closed the quarter on a 6-0 run, with the last four points coming on drives by Jordan Henneberry.
The teams went back and forth in the third quarter, but Torrington took the lead for good at 32-31 on a Richy Rodriguez drive.
When Dontae Thomas converted a three-point play to begin the fourth quarter, the Red Raiders led 40-33 and the Falcons were in trouble. St. Paul was down 50-44 with 2:56 to play in the game and made one final run. AJ Brooks got his second tip-in attempt to fall to make it 50-46, then a floater by Arbuckle from the left wing brought the score of 50-48. 
Torrington went 6-of-8 on free throws down the stretch to seal the victory. The Red Raiders were 19-of-22 (just over 86 percent) at the foul line.
"The result doesn't detract from the effort and the pride I have in what we've done," Phelps said.
The Falcons lost four straight games and were 1-4 after the first quarter of the regular season. St. Paul won 11 of its next 13 games to turn its season around. There just wasn't enough in the tank to get past Torrington on Friday night.

GALLERY: Click here to see my photos from last night's game.

STORY: Click here to read what I wrote for the Republican-American.

VIDEO: Click here to see the clips I took for The Hoop Zone.

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