Waterford edges Trumbull in battle of top 10 teams

Waterford — There aren’t many other sporting venues in the region — perhaps all of Connecticut — that have provided better theater in recent years than the “X,” otherwise known as the Francis X. Sweeney Fieldhouse at Waterford High School.

And what happened Saturday suggests the “X” hasn’t lost its fastball and doesn’t plan to anytime soon.

Lancer Nation stormed the floor in celebration of No. 7 Waterford’s wild 66-65 win over No. 6 Trumbull, a game illustrating that both teams have come by their top 10 ranking in the GameTime CT poll quite honestly.

Waterford senior Liam Spellman made a 3-pointer with 1:02 left to give Waterford the 66-65 lead. Spellman and the more than 1,000 fans in attendance then chewed their fingernails in the final minute, watching Waterford miss two front ends of one-and-ones and Trumbull’s frantic last possession.

Waterford (7-0) won its 22nd straight game. It hasn’t lost since last Jan. 23 at New London.

“The atmosphere in here was unbelievable,” Spellman said. “And this was only our seventh game of the year. If this is what the rest of the year it going to be like, it’s gonna be great. The atmosphere was just as good as the East Lyme games we’ve had in here.”

Spellman finished with nine points and a tireless 20 rebounds, despite some foul trouble. Kenny Hill led the Lancers with 20 points and six assists, J.J. Brennan had 18 points and three steals and Ryan O’Connell had eight points and 11 rebounds.

“It’s not like this in Rhode Island. Not even close,” said Hill, who attended middle school at Clark Lane before moving to Rhode Island, where he played at Classical in Providence for three years. Hill moved back here over the summer, citing a family issue. The Lancers are surely happy he came home.

“Kenny was huge,” Spellman said. “Best game I ever saw him play.”

Trumbull (6-1) trailed by as many as nine in the first half. The Eagles, who beat league rival Ridgefield on a buzzer beater Thursday night, finally tied the game with five minutes left and took their first lead on Chris Brown’s layup with 1:54 left.

Timmond Williams, emerging as one of the state’s best players, led Trumbull with 28. Brown added 14.

“What a great atmosphere,” Trumbull coach Buddy Bray said. “We’ll take a lot from this game. Obviously, we didn’t get the win, but to play in front of this kind of atmosphere and in a building with this much energy is going to help us. This was playoff basketball in January.”

Mileeq Green’s layup with 1:26 left game Trumbull a 65-63 lead before Spellman’s three from the top of the circle.

“It felt beautiful coming out of my hand,” Spellman said.

And it gave the Lancers a win against a previously unbeaten Division I school.

“We scheduled this game in May,” Waterford coach Bill Bassett said. “We knew Trumbull was a Division I school that went 15-5 in the regular season last year and graduated nobody. They’d be well coached and well-seasoned. For us, it’s the kind of game where we can ask, ‘OK, where are we right now?’ We’re playing pretty well. And we like to keep butts in the seats.”

m.dimauro@theday.com

 

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