WCA boys earn back-to-back NVL titles

The WCA starters walk onto the court prior to Wednesday night’s NVL boys basketball tournament final against Holy Cross at Wilby High School. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)

The top-seeded WCA boys basketball team saw senior Zaire Lott get hot from behind the three-point line early in Wednesday night’s NVL boys basketball tournament final against second-seeded Holy Cross.

The Spartans rode the early momentum from Lott’s sharpshooting to an 82-68 win over the Crusaders and their second straight NVL championship. Lott scored 24 points, including six 3-pointers, and was named tournament MVP for his efforts. Fellow senior Drew Williams also hit for 24 points, including a major closing effort in the fourth quarter.

WCA improved to 19-4 while Holy Cross fell to 18-5. The Spartans won their second straight title while being led by interim head coach Effrin Ellison Jr., who stepped in for Ronan O’Leary. O’Leary was injured in a pickup basketball game and will not return to the bench this season. Ellison, Jodie Burns and Eric Sky Johnson have done a great job in O’Leary’s absence.

WCA’s final journey to a repeat title began with Lott’s monster shooting effort. He had 14 points in the first quarter and 21 by halftime. Lott’s final three points came in the third quarter, but they were on a big shot that put the Spartans ahead, 54-41, off an offensive rebound. It seemed that every time Holy Cross went to make its move, WCA had an answer. First half answers came from Lott, and the second half belonged to Drew Williams.

WCA led, 25-13, after one quarter. The Spartans led by 10 points, 35-25, at halftime, then got the advantage back to 12 at 58-46 after three quarters.

In the fourth quarter, Jeremiah Williams sank six free throws as WCA put the game away at the line. The junior Williams finished with 12 points, and fellow junior Dylan Rossi added 10 points.

Holy Cross junior star Elijah Parker led all scorers with 35 points.

State tournament

WCA is in Division I, having moved up following its Division III state championship last season. The Spartans are the No. 9 seed and earn a first round bye, since there are just 17 teams in Division I. WCA plays at No. 8 Southington next Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Holy Cross is in Division II and also has a first round bye. The fifth-seeded Crusaders take on the winner of No. 12 West Haven and No. 21 Norwalk next Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

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