EAST LYME — The state’s cardiac kids through two rounds reside in New Milford.
Two games, two wins decided in the final seconds.
Hunter Skelly came up with a crucial block in the final five seconds, which sealed a 49-47, come-from-behind win over East Lyme, a victory that sent the Green Wave to the Division III quarterfinals. No. 10 New Milford will visit No. 2 Prince Tech on Monday for a spot in the semis.
“It’s great for the kids and great for the program,” said New Milford coach Al Tolomeo. “I don’t sell these kids short but we flew under the radar this year. These guys have believed in ourselves the whole year.”
After rallying from a double-digit deficit to upend Bristol Central in overtime in Round 1, the Green Wave matched that and then some Thursday. New Milford fell behind by 19 points to start the third quarter before the switch flipped. Stops led to layups and 3-pointers, and suddenly the visitors had the lead heading into the final quarter.
“We were getting stops and we sped them up with pressure,” Tolomeo said. “We have confidence in this group; the way we play defense is our catalyst for everything. We weren’t locked in at the beginning, I’m not sure if it was the two-hour bus ride.”
The defense remained tough in the final eight minutes as the teams traded hoops. The stage was set for Skelly’s block after New Milford converted a layup in the final moments.
The Green Wave yielded just 15 points in the second half.
“I was so happy they let the kids play,” Tolomeo said. “I told the kids in a tight game, the way we play defense I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a mindset and mentality with these kids.”
The SWC is down to three conference representatives in the state tournament as Bunnell (Division II) and Immaculate (Division I) remain.
NEW MILFORD 49,
EAST LYME 47
NEW MILFORD (16-6)
Josian Morales 2 1-3 5 Johnny Fitzmaurice 1 1-2 4 Tyler Bowe 1 1-2 3 Eric Habijan 8 2-7 22 Eric Diaz 6 0-0 15 Anthony Trocchio 0 0-1 0. Totals: 18 5-15 49.
EAST LYME (14-7)
Alec Elmer 2 0-0 5 Nate Diaz 2 0-1 6 Drew Menghi 5 1-2 11 Luke Leonard 6 3-5 16 TJ Horner 3 3-4 9. Totals: 18 7-12 47.
NEW MILFORD 13 5 23 8 — 49
EAST LYME 19 13 7 8 — 47
3-pointers: NM—Fitzmaurice, Habijan 4, Diaz 3; EL—Elmer, Diaz 2, Leonard.