Warriors three-peat as CCC champs

By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Mon., Mar. 4, 2013
The Windsor High School Warriors celebrate their three-peat as CCC tournament champions. Photos by Colin Rajala.
The Windsor High School Warriors celebrate their three-peat as CCC tournament champions. Photos by Colin Rajala.

The Windsor High School boys’ basketball team’s last loss came on Jan. 2 at the hands of the Glastonbury Tomahawks, 64-73, and since then Warriors have reeled off eight straight wins on their way to the Central Connecticut Conference tournament final versus Glastonbury. The top-seeded Windsor exacted revenge and claimed its third straight CCC tournament championship with a 74-67 victory over eighth-seeded Glastonbury in front of a raucous crowd at Bulkeley High School’s Babe Allen Fieldhouse on March 1.

“We kept the lead just about all the way through, and our kids stuck in there,” said Ken Smith, Windsor head coach. “Glastonbury is a good team and we had to make some tough shots, and that’s what we did. The kids really stepped up, all of them.”

Windsor took the lead for good early in the second quarter on a 13-4 run and never looked back. Glastonbury mounted fearless comebacks, but the Warriors had an answer each time. Late in the fourth quarter, Glastonbury’s Jordan Butler sunk two free throws to draw the Windsor lead to two points, 66-68. Senior guard Quinn Fleeting, who had missed all seven of his shot attempts in the second half, calmly buried a three-pointer from the right wing with just 52 seconds left on the clock to extend the lead to 71-66. Fleeting, who joined the team halfway through the season and comes off the bench to infuse energy and scoring, scored the team’s final six points and finished with a career-high 22.

“I thought I was a little off in the second half, and even though I missed a few shots, I knew I had to keep shooting,” Fleeting said. “Shooters have to keep shooting, and I just try and play with a lot of confidence.”

Jared Wilson-Frame finished with 20, Dayon Hokim came off the bench and sparked the Warriors with eight points, and Tyler Rowe finished with 10 assists.  Butler finished with a career-high 36 points and 22 rebounds in the losing effort.

To get to the CCC final, Windsor had to go through rival East Hartford, a team they had beat twice earlier in the season. In sports, the saying goes that it is difficult to beat a team three times, but the Warriors did just that as they weathered a furious second-half comeback from the Hornets. On its heels, Windsor showed its resiliency en route to a 88-80 thriller.

“We should have never been in that position,” said Smith. “We didn’t play well. For some people it’s good, but for me it’s not. We work on things in practice that, if we execute, that will never happen. We have to get better on executing.”

Windsor jumped out of the gates and took a 27-8 lead at the end of the first quarter, thanks in part to some defensive intensity and pressure that East Hartford was not ready for. The Warriors ended the quarter on a 21-3 run, which featured three three-pointers and a three-point play. Windsor carried the momentum into the half, leading 45-23.

East Hartford was too good to go down without a fight, and in the third quarter played inspired basketball, forcing Windsor into a multitude of turnovers with a full-court trap. The Hornets rallied off a 26-7 run to end of the third quarter, as they brought the game to within three, 62-59. Junior swingman Kahari Beaufort’s 21-point quarter on eight field goals, including two three-pointers, led the comeback.

“He was on fire, but nobody stepped up to say, 'Hey, let me shut him down,' and that is what we have to get better with,” Smith said.

East Hartford took its only lead of the game, 65-64, just over a minute into the fourth quarter on two free throws by Avondre Murphy. With the game tied at 67, Fleeting scored seven consecutive points to break the late tie and give Windsor back a lead it would not surrender the rest of the contest.

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