WCA boys are only team left after Kennedy, Holy Cross ousted in quarterfinal contests

The city of Waterbury, and the Sports on CT-69 area itself, is down to one high school basketball team in the state tournament after a rough quarterfinal night Monday.

The WCA boys, who won the NVL championship, are the last team standing. The Spartans, seeded second in Division III, had their semifinal game against sixth-seeded Platt-Meriden pushed from tonight to tomorrow, still at 7 p.m. at Naugatuck High.

Kennedy and Holy Cross each lost Division II home quarterfinal games. The No. 4 Eagles were defeated by No. 5 Xavier-Middletown, 54-50. The No. 2 Crusaders were ousted by No. 7 Staples-Westport, 61-47. Kennedy finished its season at 20-6 while Holy Cross ended its campaign at 20-5. The Eagles were denied a second straight trip to a semifinal while the Crusaders were prevented from advancing from the quarterfinal round by a Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference foe for the second straight season. Last year, it was Wilton in a last-second heartbreaker on the road.

Here’s more on each of Monday’s games:

Xavier 54, Kennedy 50

The Jack Taglia Gymnasium became very quiet when Eagle senior captain Lennox Serrano crumpled to the floor with 1:58 to play and the home team down, 51-48.

There had been a scrum for a loose ball on the floor. Serrano came up with his hand on his lower back, then fell to the floor. When Serrano got up, he didn’t put pressure on his left leg. Serrano wound up being carried to the locker room by assistant coach Terrance Morrison and a teammate.

Even without Serrano, Kennedy was at the line for one-and-one. The free throw was missed, but Hikim Trueheart got the ball and dribbled it back out. Isaiah Tucker attacked the basket, but his contested layup missed. 

Xavier standout Anthony Parker (game-high 25 points) made both ends of a one-and-one for a 53-48 lead. The Falcons attempted to run some time off the clock, but a bad pass was intercepted and taken for a layup by Johnarieus Davis to cut the Eagle deficit to 53-50, and head coach Armand LeVasseur called time with 41.9 seconds to go.

Parker hit one of two free throws after being fouled on a layup attempt following a baseball pass. Xavier kept its opponent in the game with three straight misses on the front ends of one-and-one free throw opportunities, but Kennedy couldn’t get closer. Down 54-50, Kennedy missed 3-pointers on two back-to-back possessions, then had another one blocked. 

Drew Dargati joined Parker in double figures with 12 points (four 3-pointers) for Xavier, which plays top-seeded St. Bernard-Uncasville in a semifinal tomorrow at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven.

Trueheart led the Eagles with 16 points. Terrance Morrison Jr. had 12 points (four 3-pointers) and Serrano tallied 11 before leaving with his injury. It was the final game for Kennedy seniors Serrano, Davis (8 points), Jabarie James, Ergi Mussolari and Victor Velez. James was injured in the second half of the Eagles’ first round win over Greenwich and never played again in the state tournament.

Staples 61, Holy Cross 47

The Wreckers figured out how to handle the Crusader pressure defense, then attacked it with repeated success.

On several occasions, an open Staples shooter buried a 3-pointer. At other points, a pass found its way to an open Wrecker for a driving layup. 

Holy Cross led, 15-14, after one quarter, but it was all Staples after that. The Wreckers went on a 13-2 second-quarter run to establish a 27-17 lead before entering halftime with a 27-21 advantage.

Elijah Parker (game-high 25 points) did what he could to keep Holy Cross in the game, scoring on an array of great moves in the paint. At one point, Parker hit a left-handed hook shot over Staples’ 6-foot-8 senior center Chris Zajac. Parker also found an open teammate for a 3-pointer on a crosscourt pass, with his right hand (he’s left-handed). 

Zajac had the last laugh, though, and put an exclamation point on the win for Staples with a two-handed slam late in the fourth quarter. The Wreckers play fellow Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference team Fairfield Warde in a Division II semifinal tomorrow at Westhill in Stamford. Zajac and senior Cody Sale had 16 points each while freshman Samson Clachko added 12 (three 3-pointers).

Parker was the lone Holy Cross player to hit double figures. Derone Fordham added nine points for the Crusaders. It was the final Holy Cross game for seniors Fordham, Joe Dane, Peyton Mullins, Zac Blaschke, Kevin Matiz and Edwin Roberts.