Falcons earn 17th straight state tourney berth

St. Paul’s Jason Mathews (15) passes to Ethan Clements (2) after securing a rebound during Wednesday night’s game against Seymour at Seymour Middle School. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)

The St. Paul boys basketball team added to the program’s legacy Wednesday night with yet another state tournament berth.

The Falcons pulled away from Seymour for a 70-57 win over the Wildcats at Seymour Middle School. The win put St. Paul at 8-3 and gave the Falcons their 17th consecutive state tournament berth.

St. Paul had a game plan going into the NVL Division B road game, but not not all plans work the way they should.

The plan was to harass the Wildcat guards on defense, then pound the ball inside on offense. The hosts from Seymour jumped out to a 22-10 lead after one quarter at Seymour Middle School, which is hosting Wildcat games until work being done at Seymour High School is completed.

St. Paul head coach Steve Phelps was frustrated and tried different combinations to see what would work. The Wildcat lead eventually grew to 30-15, but the Falcons put together a terrific response. St. Paul’s 12-0 run cut the deficit to 30-27 by halftime.

Freshman guard Ethan Clements (16 points) was part of a huge five-point sequence during the run. Clements canned a 3-pointer at one end to get the Falcons within 30-25. Clements blocked a shot at the other end, then found junior guard Logan Rembish (16 points) with a pass for a fast break layup to make it 30-27.

In the third quarter, Seymour got its lead back up to six points at 36-30, only to see St. Paul rip off a 13-1 spurt for a 43-37 advantage. The Falcons forced turnovers, and junior forward Jason Mathews (game-high 25 points) did damage underneath. The Wildcats, however, took advantage of miscues and ended the quarter on a 7-0 burst for a 44-43 lead.

The fourth quarter belonged to St. Paul. The defense, which had the top defender extended into the backcourt, forced turnovers and made it difficult for the Wildcats to move the ball. Mathews was again the man inside while Rembish got free for fast break baskets. It was far from just Mathews and Rembish who did all the damage in a 27-12 fourth quarter. Here were the point totals: Rembish 9, Mathews 7, Clements 6, Jah Gayle 5. That is the team basketball that Phelps has taught throughout his tenure at St. Paul. Gayle also came up big on defense with blocked shots (4 for the game).

St. Paul hosts Wilby tonight at 7 o’clock at the Rev. Brian Monnerat Gymnasium. The Falcons have taken care of business and clinched their state tournament berth, but the focus has shifted from Seymour’s Wildcats to Wilby’s Wildcats.

GALLERY: Here are my photos from Wednesday night’s game.