Waterford outlasts NFA 80-77 before full house in Norwich

Waterford's Eric Pinch (1) moves the ball down court ahead of NFA's Alec Gomes during the Lancers' 80-77 win on Friday night before a full house at NFA's Alumni Hall. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Waterford's Eric Pinch (1) moves the ball down court ahead of NFA's Alec Gomes during the Lancers' 80-77 win on Friday night before a full house at NFA's Alumni Hall. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

Norwich — Chris Guisti flashed a wry grin at the question involving J.J. Brennan, the kid from Waterford High School who ultimately ruined Guisti's Friday night.

"You know," Guisti said, "I coached his sister (Mia) in AAU. She made those shots, too. It must run in the family."

Guisti alluded to Brennan's five 3-pointers, the last of which snapped a 77-77 tie with 1:39 left, lifting the Lancers to an entertaining 80-77 win over Norwich Free Academy before an in-full-throat sellout crowd at Alumni Hall.

Brennan, whose playing time increased because of teammate Omar Rahman's injury, finished with 18 points.

"He gives us the long ball," Waterford coach Bill Bassett said of Brennan, a junior. "It's an opportunity to spread out the defense. Omar is a terrific defender and J.J.is a lock down shooter."

Brennan said, "Mikey (Buscetto) told me in school (Friday) to just be confident when I shot it. It was money."

Waterford completed the regular season 18-2 and will have the No. 2 seed in next week's Eastern Connecticut Conference Tournament at the Francis X. Sweeney Fieldhouse.

"We hit a rough patch in the middle of the season. We had to figure out what we do well and get back to that," Bassett said.

The Lancers survived one of NFA's most prolific offensive nights of the season. NFA (12-7), which scored but 38 points total in Tuesday's loss to East Lyme, made 13 3-pointers.

"If you'd have told me we would make 13 threes, I'd sign for that every day," Guisti said. "Sometimes, the ball just doesn't bounce your way."

Guisti and Bassett were well aware that the game also produced one of the best atmospheres of the season in any ECC game. Waterford brought two busloads of Lancer Nation to the game, adding to a night of dueling student sections.

"It was the loudest freshmen game I ever heard, one of the loudest JV games I ever heard and then when the varsity game started, we had Lancer Nation with us the whole way," Bassett said.

"In a day and age when people pay big money to watch professional athletes give 75 percent until the last few minutes," Guisti said, "people here tonight saw 15-20 kids give all they had for five bucks."

Buscetto led Waterford with 26 points. Walker Sutman had 12 (eight biggies in the fourth quarter) and Liam Spellman had 11, while chasing NFA's Aidan Miller all night, including NFA's last possession.

Miller led NFA with 22 points. Brenden Sholes had 12 and Bret Wood scored 10.

m.dimauro@theday.com

NFA's Brendan Maher (24) gets a shot off against Waterford's J.J. Brennan during Friday night's game in Norwich where the Lancers beat the Wildcats 80-77. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
NFA's Brendan Maher (24) gets a shot off against Waterford's J.J. Brennan during Friday night's game in Norwich where the Lancers beat the Wildcats 80-77. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
NFA's Maloyid Perkins (2) and Waterford's J.J. Brennan battle for a loose ball during Waterford's 80-77 win on Friday night in Norwich. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
NFA's Maloyid Perkins (2) and Waterford's J.J. Brennan battle for a loose ball during Waterford's 80-77 win on Friday night in Norwich. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

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