Wilton comes close to knocking off Trinity in FCIAC quarterfinals
If not for Abdoul Rassoul, the Wilton boys basketball team might have pulled off a rim-rattling upset in the conference playoffs.
Rassoul hit a 3-pointer from the corner with five seconds left to give second-seed Trinity Catholic a 53-50 victory over seven-seed Wilton on Saturday in an FCIAC quarterfinal game at Fairfield Warde.
“I’ve been practicing this kind of shot a lot,” said Rassoul, a 6-foot-8 junior. “For me, it’s just, I was willing to take it anyway; we were down the stretch and that was the only choice we had. I felt confident in it.”
The emotions were high for Trinity Catholic, after it was announced on Thursday that the school would be closing at the end of the current school year. This is the last FCIAC basketball tournament for the program that has won the title six times, the last in 2008.
“I’d be lying if I said, not anything. We talked about it,” Trinity Catholic coach Brian Kriftcher said. “We came into this thing from the beginning of the year and said we want to do special things. It’s a special group. We’re just thinking and saying survive and advance, move on.”
Kriftcher did say he spoke with the team about the decision this week.
“What I said to them in the locker room the other day ... we had a long talk about it: Look, there are five seniors we were never going to be the same team next year anyway,” Kriftcher said. “Yeah, there’s a lot of emotion about what next year ... a lot of uncertainty about what next year holds ... and we’ll have plenty of time to talk about that as soon as the season is over. Right now, our focus is on Fairfield Warde [in the FCIAC semifinals].”
Rassoul’s 3-pointer was the only one he hit during the game.
“We didn’t draw up a shot for Rassoul, but he works on it all the time,” Kriftcher said. “We didn’t have a lack of confidence in him making it, but he nailed it and that was it.
“He was open and he can shoot it. He’s a good shooter. He’s a really good, really skilled player.”
The 3-pointer capped a back-and-forth game.
Wilton was ahead 19-11 after the first quarter but was held to four second-quarter points as Trinity took a 26-23 halftime lead. The game was tied 36-36 through three quarters.
“[Wilton] hit every big shot ... we were scrapping, missing loose balls ... they battled,” Kriftcher said. “[Wilton coach] Joel [Geriak] always has them playing hard.”
Andrew Smith had a game-high 23 points for Wilton (11-10), hitting seven 3-pointers. Kyle Hyzy added 13 points and John Walsh contributed 11 points for the Warriors, who now await the start of the Division I state tournament next week.
Rahsen Fisher led Trinity (16-5) with 20 points. Malcolm Newman had 13 points and Rassoul and Andrew Saint-Louis each added eight points.