Centaurs earn
runner up
The Centaurs went into the Feb. 28 Eastern Connecticut Conference boys’ basketball tournament Division II championship game with one thought in mind – win.
“We want to win the games we’re in so the run getting us here was exciting and we enjoyed those wins, but it’s a one-game tournament for us and we didn’t win (Wednesday). We’re proud of the effort overall, but it’s hard to find the silver lining right now. The guys worked hard, but ultimately, we want to have more points on the scoreboard at the end than the other team does. That didn’t happen,” said Woodstock Academy coach Marty Hart.
The seventh-seeded Centaurs, seeking their first ever ECC tournament championship, had to settle for runner-up status after a 51-45 loss to top-seeded St. Bernard at Waterford High School.
It was the second straight Division II title for the Saints.
“No one expected us to get past the second round with Plainfield so getting here, it wasn’t a win, but it was more than what everyone else expected. We did what we knew we could do and it was just a tough game (Wednesday),” said Woodstock Academy junior Luke Mathewson.
The Centaurs (11-13) were in the game throughout.
A 3-pointer by Chase Anderson gave The Academy a 10-2 lead with 4 minutes left in the first quarter.
St. Bernard, however, scored seven of the next 10 points to make it 13-9 at the end of the quarter.
The Saints caught up to the Centaurs late in the first half, tying the game at 20 on a 3-pointer by De’Andre Williams (13 points).
The two teams traded treys to end the half with Mathewson, who led the Centaurs with 12, and Joe Beltran trading buckets to create a 23-23 halftime tie.
“We felt great in the first half,” Hart said. “Got a lot of guys in-and-out, the fouls were a little less impactful.”
Both Aidan Morin and Anderson had two fouls in the first half.
The game hardly moved in the third quarter with the Saints (21-2) opening the biggest lead, all of a four-point advantage, early in the third quarter.
The Centaurs led 34-32 at the end of the third quarter, but it was a Mathewson basket that tied it at 43 with 4:59 left.
Unfortunately for the Centaurs, it was their next to last basket of the game.
“It was hard to get into the flow. We were trying to get into open space and it got physical at the end, kind of tightened up on us. We didn’t get the looks we wanted and they played tough defense,” Hart said. “We weren’t playing together on offense as much as we were in the third (quarter),” Mathewson said. “Some of us felt the pressure and we weren’t looking for everyone. We weren’t necessarily playing for ourselves, but the nerves just got to us in a big game.”
The game didn’t start in front of a big crowd, but by the time it ended, the gym was packed in anticipation of the Division I championship between the host Waterford and E.  Lyme. Brian Bergeron scored only two buckets all night for the Saints, but both were big.
He put St. Bernard up, 45-43, with a layup with 4:40 left in the game and with 2:20 left, picked up a loose ball, fought off Centaurs guard Aaron Johnson and bull-rushed to the basket to give the Saints a 47-43 lead.
“That was a big play by Brian,” junior guard Max Lee said of the second basket. “I poked it away and I was too busy confronting the ref (looking for a foul), but I saw him make the layup. He works so hard and he doesn’t necessarily get the credit he deserves. He’s 5-foot-10 and he’s battling these 6-5 guys. I definitely would want to do that.”
Beltran, who finished with a game-high 14 points, added a free throw for the Saints with 42 seconds left to put St. Bernard up by five.
The Centaurs did have a last gasp.
Cole Hackett hit a layup with 31 seconds left to make it a one-possession game, but the Centaurs were forced to foul and Hunter Baillargeon made a pair of free throws with 24 seconds left to guarantee the Saints’ victory.
“I’m really happy,” St. Bernard coach Mark Jones said of his team winning its second consecutive Division II championship. “That Woodstock team is a really good team and they got it going as of late. Our kids should be really proud to win this.”
Lee was named the Most Valuable Player of the Division II tournament with his teammates, Williams and Beltran, named to the All-Tournament team. Johnson and Hackett were the All-Tournament choices for the Centaurs.
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director


RocketTheme Joomla Templates