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Saints take over first in ECC Div. II with big road win at Waterford

Waterford — This was the night the schedule-maker had a wry sense of humor awaiting St. Bernard and Waterford. Imagine: playing the game for first place in the division only 48 hours after two vivid victories.

St. Bernard: rallied from eight points down Tuesday night to defeat one-loss Norwich Free Academy, the Saints' best win of the season.

Waterford: Outlasted blood rival East Lyme and watched Lancer Nation rush the court.

So which team withstood prosperity better?

The answer was heard inside St. Bernard's loud, happy locker room. The Saints moved into sole possession of the first place in Division II of the Eastern Connecticut Conference with a 71-52 victory at the Francis X. Sweeney Fieldhouse.

"We've been on them the last two days," St. Bernard coach Mark Jones said. "We had a big game on TV and then have to come here two days later in a game for first place. The guys showed up and played hard."

St. Bernard (12-1, 5-1) led 29-24 early in the third period and proceeded to blitz the Lancers (10-4, 4-2) from there.

"We told the kids that St. Bernard is so athletic and so good in the open floor that we couldn't get into a track meet with them," said Waterford coach Bill Bassett, whose team had won four straight. "They are really talented. I thought we did a nice job early of capitalizing on the things that we can do well. But then we started going up and down with them. They force you into that with how good they are."

Tyson Wheeler, who endured a few barbs from Lancer Nation, had 17 points to lead the Saints along with Amyre Gray, who also had 17. Wheeler's shot returned to him in this game after he struggled with it Tuesday.

"A few times when Tyson shot the ball, I'm thinking, 'uh oh, this is going in,'" Bassett said. "He was really good tonight."

Cedric Similien had 12 points and Devan Williams 11 for the Saints, whose brutal schedule continues Tuesday night at New London.

"These guys have put a lot of effort into this," Jones said. "One of our goals is to win the ECC regular season. This was a really big game for that tonight."

Logan Peabody led Waterford with 15 points. Jordan Elci had 11 and Sean O'Connell nine.

"Games like this don't come along all the time, where you're playing a very good team with something on the line," Bassett said. "You have to be ready for that mentally. I tip my cap to St. B's."

m.dimauro@theday.com

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