Dunks and dribbles: The 2018 FCIAC boys basketball tournament

Another interesting FCIAC boys basketball season wrapped up Thursday night when the Danbury Hatters defeated the Trumbull Eagles, 75-57, for the league championship at Wilton’s Zeoli Field House.

It was Danbury’s first conference boys basketball championship since 1992, and also the school’s fourth league title this winter — following boys track and field, cheerleading and wrestling.

Here are some notes and numbers from the tournament…

The champs

The FCIAC championship was the Danbury boys basketball teams’ first in 26 years dating back to 1992, when they defeated Westhill. That was the third of three straight championships for the Hatters.

Danbury has won five FCIAC championships, including the first back in 1962, and the three straight from 1990 through 1992.

The Hatters have also finished as the league runner-up twice, including two years ago when they lost to Westhill in the final.

Danbury racked up 201 points in three tournament games — a 67 points per game average — and allowed just 155. The Hatters’ average margin of victory was 16, with a high of 25 against Central in the quarterfinals, and a low of 3 against Trinity Catholic in the semis.

The stars and captains

Danbury senior Jordan Brown and junior Denali Burton, team co-captains, had fantastic tournaments, with Brown averaging 20 points per game, including a high of 27 points in the championship game.

Burton scored 15 points per game and had 24 points in the final, when he was named the tournament MVP.

Junior Javon Hernandez, another captain, averaged better than 10 points per game, including a high of 12 in the semis and 11 in the final.

The Hatters’ fourth co-captain, senior Cameron Snow, had a couple of double-digit games, and finished with an average if just under 10 points per game.

The runners-up

Trumbull appeared in its first FCIAC boys basketball final since 1983, when the Eagles defeated New Canaan for the championship. Trumbull has been in the final three times and is now 2-1 in those games.

The Eagles essentially played the last five contests as elimination games. Needing to close out the season with two wins in the final week, they defeated Central 74-69 and Danbury 53-50, before knocking off Warde 65-56, and Norwalk 82-75 in the quarters and semis.

Remarkably, Trumbull did it all without a senior in the lineup this season.

Timmond Williams is pretty good

Williams, a junior, was the tournament’s top offensive weapon, as he racked up 78 points in three games for a 26 points per game average. He had two of the top four scoring games in the playoffs, as his 28 in the quarterfinals tied Norwalk’s Tyrique Langley for the top spot, and his 27 in the semifinals tied Warde’s Sean Conway for third. He scored 23 in the final.

Top scoring performances

There were 13 20-point scoring performances in the tournament, including the three from Trumbull’s Timmond Williams. Williams and Norwalk’s Tyrique Langley each scored 28 points in their respective quarterfinal game, which was the high-water mark in scoring for the tournament.

Here’s the complete rundown of 20-point scoring efforts in the 2018 FCIAC tournament:

28 Timmond Williams, Trumbull vs. Warde, quarterfinals

28 Tyrique Langley, Norwalk vs. Ridgefield, quarterfinals

27 Timmond Williams, Trumbull vs. Norwalk, semifinals

27 Jordan Brown, Danbury vs. Trumbull, final

26 Sean Conway, Warde vs. Trumbull, quarterfinals

26 Brendan McNamara, Ridgefield vs. Norwalk, quarterfinals

24 Denali Burton, Danbury vs. Trumbull, final

23 Jordan Brown, Danbury vs. Central, quarterfinals

23 Timmond Williams, Trumbull vs. Danbury, final

22 Chris Brown, Trumbull vs. Norwalk, semifinals

21 Zack Williams, Central vs. Danbury, quarterfinals

21 Tyrique Langley, Norwalk vs. Trumbull, semifinals

20 Rajeeve Walker, Central vs. Danbury, quarterfinals

Close games

Of the seven tournament games, five were decided by single digits. The two exceptions were both Danbury victories, as the Hatters defeated Central 82-58 in the quarterfinals, and Trumbull 75-57 in the final.

Highs and lows, Trinity’s stingy defense

The highest combined point total for a tournament game this year was the 157 scored in Trumbull’s 82-75 victory over the Norwalk Bears in the semifinals.

The lowest combined point total was the 81 points scored in Trinity Catholic’s 42-39 victory over city rival Stamford in the quarterfinals. The Crusaders were involved in the two lowest scoring games in the tournament, as the 83 combined points in their 43-40 loss to Danbury in the semifinals ranked second

Those two games gave Trinity the stingiest defense in the playoffs, as they allowed just 81 points overall in two games.

Getting even

The two semifinal games, as well as the final, all reversed the results of the regular-season meetings between the two teams involved.

In the semis, Danbury beat Trinity 43-40, after losing to Trinity 65-57 on Feb. 6; and Trumbull beat Norwalk 82-75, after losing to Norwalk 71-45 on Feb. 12.

In the final Danbury beat Trumbull 75-57, after losing to Trumbull 53-50 on the final day of the regular season, Feb. 21.

What seedings?

The tournament seeds didn’t heavily favor the top teams, but they weren’t a detriment either, as the higher seeded teams went 4-3 overall. That included a 2-2 quarterfinals and a 1-1 semifinals. The game which gave the higher seeds the edge was the final, as No. 3 Danbury defeated No. 5 Trumbull.

Of course, the biggest upset by far came in the quarterfinals, where No. 8 Norwalk knocked off No. 1 Ridgefield 59-50. The defending champion Tigers were 14-2 against FCIAC foes coming into the game, and had beaten Norwalk 64-60 a few weeks earlier on Feb. 15.

Hit your free throws

Free-throw shooting was solid in the tournament, as overall, players hit at a 70% clip (168-for-239), according to stats sent to FCIAC.net. That included 77% shooting in the semifinals (54-for-70).

Trumbull was the best from the free throw line, hitting 49-of-60 shots for 82%. That included 26-of-30 shooting from Timmond Williams for 86.67%.

Dialing long distance

There were 61 3-point baskets in the tournament, which isn’t an exceptionally high number for seven games. The most by far were the 18 hit during the Norwalk-Trumbull semifinal games. Norwalk’s Conner Mastropietro hit six 3-pointers in that game — the most by any player in the playoffs.

Trumbull led with 17 as a team in three games, Norwalk had 14 in two games, and Danbury had 12 in three games.

The CIAC picture

The FCIAC has 10 teams playing in the state tournaments starting on Monday.

In Div. I, Danbury is No. 7 and Trinity Catholic is No. 10 and, after opening round byes, those two teams will square off for the third time this season in the second round of the playoffs at 6 p.m., Wednesday, March 7.

Ridgefield is No. 11 and also has a first-round bye before playing at No. 6 Hamden in the second round at 7 p.m., March 7.

Trumbull is the No. 12 seed and will host a first-round game against No. 21 Weaver at 5 p.m., Monday, March 5.

In Div. II, the FCIAC has five teams: No. 13 Wilton, No. 14 Central, No. 15 Warde, No. 16 Stamford, and No. 20 Norwalk.

The lone FCIAC head-to-head matchup in the first round is between Norwalk and Wilton, who will clash at 7 p.m., Tues., March 6, at Wilton’s Zeoli Field House.

Other first-round games are Career at Central, Xavier at Warde, and Naugatuck at Stamford, all at 7 p.m., March 6.

Darien is the lone FCIAC team in Div. III, and the Wave will host No. 19 Daniel Hand in the first round at 7 p.m., Monday, March 5.

The Danbury Hatters celebrate after winning the 2018 FCIAC boys basketball championship on Thursday. — H. John Vorhees III/News-Times photo

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