Saints run out of steam in Division IV quarterfinals
New Canaan — St. Bernard made one field goal and scored only four points in the second quarter of Friday night's CIAC Division IV boys' basketball tournament quarterfinal.
That hardly resembles the team the Saints have been the past three seasons.
Fifth-seeded St. Bernard had an atypical night with both shooting and turnovers as it lost at No. 4 New Canaan 57-38.
"We didn't have it tonight and they did," Saints head coach Mark Jones said. "In a single-elimination tournament, you've got to have it every night, and when you don't, these things happen."
Frank Pacheco made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Saints an 11-10 lead after one quarter.
Nate Avery's layup gave St. Bernard a 13-12 lead with 5 minutes, 41 seconds left in the first half.
The Saints didn't make another field goal until their was 3:09 left in the third quarter.
"We played well in the beginning," Jones said. "It was just kind of a snowball effect when the shots aren't going and they're not falling."
Max Lee scored a team-high 15 points for the Saints (21-5) and De'Andre Williams scored eight.
The fourth-seeded Rams (18-5) advance to play No. 16 St. Joseph, a fellow Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference, in Tuesday's semifinals at a site and time to be announced.
The Cadets knocked off No. 8 Stonington in double overtime, 69-67.
Luke Rwambuya scored 12 and Matt Brand had 10 points for New Canaan, which have been one of the state's best success stories this season. The Rams had won just 22 games over the previous five seasons and hadn't made states (or the FCIAC tournament) since 2009.
St. Bernard has won many games the past few years with a combination of steady shooting, good handles, and moxie on the boards to make up for a lack of team size.
New Canaan's size flustered the Saints. They turned it over five times in the second quarter, one of which led to Alex Gibbens making a 3-pointer in transition to give the Rams a 20-13 lead with 3:12 left in the first half.
There were three times in the second quarter when St. Bernard had a steal and went on a break.
New Canaan stopped the Saints all three times and led 25-15 at halftime.
"They have length," Jones said. "I thought we could handle it. ... They are long, and they have a lot of it. They go 10 deep and all of them are long.
"You've got to give (New Canaan) credit. They're a good group."
Lee went on an 8-0 run for St. Bernard, making back-to-back 3-pointers along the way, to cut the Rams' lead to 35-27 with 1:16 remaining in the third quarter.
The Saints never got any closer.
It was the final game for seniors Joe Beltran, Lee and Williams, who helped the program win three straight Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II tournament titles.
"I'm proud of these guys," Jones said. "They have nothing to hang their heads about. They played well all year long. We just didn't have that juice today.
"I told them after the game (about being proud of them). I even got a little emotional. From when I got here (seven seasons ago), the team had won six or seven games, something like that. ... Getting to the ECC (Division II) finals, all of that, and winning it. Just a lot of memories."
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