Ledyard rediscovers its game and beats NFA 57-45 in ECC Div. I quarters

Ledyard's Jaiden Bickham falls over and NFA's Brendan Maher while fighting for a loose ball during the fifth-seeded Colonels' 57-45 win over the No. 4 Wildcats in Friday night's ECC Division I tournament quarterfinals at NFA. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Ledyard's Jaiden Bickham falls over and NFA's Brendan Maher while fighting for a loose ball during the fifth-seeded Colonels' 57-45 win over the No. 4 Wildcats in Friday night's ECC Division I tournament quarterfinals at NFA. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

Norwich — The looks on their faces — smiles all around — told the story almost as well as the scoreboard did Friday night.

The champs aren't ready to relinquish their title yet.

And to think this was the same gym in which, two weeks earlier, Ledyard High School left despondent, after losing its fifth straight game.

But the Colonels, the defending Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I tournament champs, stayed alive in their quest to repeat, avenging two regular-season losses to Norwich Free Academy with a 57-45 win in the quarterfinals at Alumni Hall.

The fifth-seeded Colonels play No. 1 East Lyme in the semifinals Saturday at 4:30 p.m. inside the Francis X. Sweeney Fieldhouse at Waterford. Third-seeded New London and No. 2 Waterford play the second semifinal at 6:30. Both games will be streamed live on theday.com.

And so while Ledyard (14-7) has little time to celebrate, it does enter the semifinals with six straight wins.

"After the last game here, we had a talk with our athletic director (Jim Buonocore) and coaches," Ledyard senior Trevor Hutchins said. "We weren't playing the way we wanted to. We were in a drought and snapping at each other. We've kind of made it fun again."

Ledyard coach Dave Cornish remembers telling his team, "We have too much talent in this room not to make a run."

Start with Hutchins, whose back-to-back natural three-point plays helped Ledyard snap a 41-41 tie in the final three minutes. NFA's Mason Jackson rescued his team from a five-point deficit with a layup, two blocks and a three-point shot within a minute. Hutchins' response? Much what is expected from a senior at tournament time.

"I've been in a lot of playoff games," Hutchins said. "Momentum is a huge thing. When (Jackson) hit that shot, I kind of calmed myself down and tried to take things a little slower."

Cornish was delighted with his team's simple response to NFA's rally.

"We got the ball to Trevor," he said.

Hutchins led the Colonels with 20 points and Ken Turner had 19.

Aidan Miller led NFA (13-8) with 19.

NFA coach Chris Guisti was brief with reporters after the game, saying, "Ledyard played better, shot better and executed better."

So now it's fewer than 24 hours of rest for Ledyard, which split with East Lyme during the regular season. Ledyard won at East Lyme in January and lost at home in double overtime a month later.

"I was a little frustrated we didn't play (Thursday)," Hutchins said, alluding to NFA's weather-related postponement of the game. "I mean, I looked outside and it was raining. But I know we can do this."

m.dimauro@theday.com

NFA's Mason Jackson (4) tries to get a shot off against Ledyard's Trevor Hutchins (21) during Friday night's ECC Division I tournament quarterfinal game at NFA. The fifth-seeded Colonels advance to the semifinals with a 57-45 win. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
NFA's Mason Jackson (4) tries to get a shot off against Ledyard's Trevor Hutchins (21) during Friday night's ECC Division I tournament quarterfinal game at NFA. The fifth-seeded Colonels advance to the semifinals with a 57-45 win. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Ledyard's Devin Rickerson (5) beats NFA's Aidan Miller to the basket on a fast break during Friday night's ECC Division I tournament quarterfinal at NFA. The No. 5 Colonels advanced to the semis with a 57-45 win over the No. 4 Wildcats. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Ledyard's Devin Rickerson (5) beats NFA's Aidan Miller to the basket on a fast break during Friday night's ECC Division I tournament quarterfinal at NFA. The No. 5 Colonels advanced to the semis with a 57-45 win over the No. 4 Wildcats. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

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