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    Sunday, February 25, 2024

    Hutchins powers Ledyard past Waterford 82-68 in ECC Division I final

    Ledyard's Julio Nieves (35) is tackled by a student dressed as Sponge Bob as they celebrate Wednesday's 82-68 win over top-seeded Waterford in the ECC Division I tournament championship game. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Waterford — Ledyard junior post Trevor Hutchins got the best of Waterford the first time around, so the Lancers made it a top priority to limit him in Wednesday’s Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I boys' basketball tournament final.

    Hutchins got the best of Waterford again. He scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half and added 11 rebounds as the Colonels pulled away to win 82-68 before an overflow crowd of 1,800 that turned the Francis X. Sweeney Field House into a sweatbox.

    “They brought some new things,” Hutchins said. “I think their plan was just to get me tired this time, so they were pushing and shoving. It was a way, way more physical game this time.”

    Hutchins scored 30 in Ledyard’s 88-74 win over Waterford on Jan. 3. It was the only other meeting between the two.

    “He’s a monster,” Colonels senior Steven Fletcher said of Hutchins. “I feel like nobody can guard him in the ECC, big-man wise.

    “I don’t care who it is, I’ll take Trevor over any big man in the ECC.”

    It was the second ECC title for Ledyard and its first under sixth-year head coach Dave Cornish. It won the other in 1990, although eventual Class M state champion New London opted not to participate in the conference tournament that season.

    “It feels good to be the first one (with all teams participating), to be the pioneers of Ledyard basketball” Hutchins said.

    Fletcher had 19 points, six rebounds and two steals for second-seeded Ledyard (19-3) and classmate Isiah McNair had 11 points, six rebounds, and three steals. Both were named to the all-tournament team along with Waterford's Mikey Buscetto and Colin Shannon.

    Junior Julio Nieves also had 13 points and seven rebounds for the Colonels, who pillaged Waterford on the boards. They had 44 rebounds, 19 of which were offensive. Ledyard sophomore Ken Turner added 11 points, the fifth Ledyard player in double figures.

    “Whether it was an offensive rebounds, a defensive rebounds, they just kept going the whole game,” Waterford coach Bill Bassett said of Ledyard. “They were relentless.”

    Buscetto had 21 points, nine assists and seven steals for the top-seeded Lancers (19-4), Shannon had 17 points and Walker Sutman added seven rebounds.

    Buscetto set the pace for the game with a 3-pointer off the opening tip.

    Ledyard led 25-21 after one quarter. To put that in perspective, it was more points than Windham and St. Bernard combined to score in the first half of the Division II final (45).

    The Colonels never trailed the rest of the game and pulled away late in the third quarter. A Hutchins layup and free throw by senior Austin Brandt gave Ledyard a 61-54 lead headed into the fourth.

    “We told ourselves that we had to pick it up on defense going into the fourth quarter,” Fletcher said. “We said that everyone is tired, but you can rest after the game.”

    Hutchins scored five of the Colonels' first seven points of the fourth quarter. His put-back pushed their lead to 68-58 with 3 minutes, 52 seconds left.

    The Colonels outscored Waterford in the fourth quarter, 21-14.

    “We couldn’t keep fighting back,” Bassett said. “You put so much energy into coming back, coming back, coming back, you just keep putting yourself into a hole.”

    Cornish said of the fourth quarter, “We had senior leadership, and I told our two senior guards (Fletcher and McNair) and (A.J.) Genova, ‘You’re seniors. Start playing like it. Seniors, this is it.

    “We were only going to go as far as Fletcher and McNair took us and the big guys.”


    Ledyard's Trevor Hutchins (21) rises over Waterford's Walker Sutman for two of his 19 points during the Colonels; 82-68 win over the host Lancers in Wednesday's ECC Division I tournament title game. Hutchins, who also had 11 rebounds, was named MVP. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Fans react to a call as Waterford’s Tyler Yeomans (23) and Ledyard’s Trevor Hutchins (21) fall out of bounds while battling for a loose ball during Wednesday’s ECC Division I boys’ basketball tournament final at Waterford. The second-seeded Colonels beat the No. 1 Lancers 82-68. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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