Boys Basketball Class M Championship
Brookfield 63, Bloomfield 60
By Ned Griffen
Special to CIACsports.com
Uncasville — Lucas Joshi had a go-ahead putback with four seconds left in the game as No. 11 Brookfield edged No. 8 Bloomfield on Sunday, 63-60, to win the CIAC Class M title, a first for the program.
“(The offensive rebound) landed in my hands,” Joshi said. “I was just lucky I was able to get it up.”
Austin DaSilva scored a game-high 19 points and six assists with 11 rebounds for the Bobcats (19-7), who were playing in their first state final. David Albanese added 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Josh Moore-Henry had 14 points and eight rebounds for the Warhawks (20-7) and Russell Thompson-Bishop added seven points and 11 rebounds.
Winning close games had become routine for Brookfield as eight of its wins were by three points or less. That included tournament wins over Immaculate (54-52), Weston (61-58) and Tolland (73-70) leading into Sunday’s game.
The Bobcats trailed Tolland by 13 points (64-41) headed in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s semifinal.
“We’ve been winning like that all season,” DaSilva said. “I just feel like we’re comfortable in those late game situations. We’re more comfortable than most teams because were (almost) all seniors.”
Brookfield head coach John Fleming said, “We’ve been there so many times, so I thought we were okay (late in Sunday’s final). We were confident that things would work out. We put in the hard work all season long. I told them, win or lose, just do that and good things will happen.
“I didn’t know amazing things we’re going to happen, but they happened.”
The Warhawks traveled after Joshi’s go-ahead layup. They had fought back down 54-46 with 3:30 remaining in the game.
“Nothing is going to stop them,” Bloomfield head coach Gary Barcher said. “They’re just going to keep coming. It just brings tears to my eyes just how tough they are. ‘Warriors’ is the word. We use Warhawks as a synonym for Warriors.
“These kids just battle. They just love to compete. It’s one of my favorite teams.”
The Bobcats hurt Bloomfield on the boards as they outrebounded it, 53-40. They also had a 23-14 edge on second-chance points.
Cameron Gleichauf (seven points, 11 rebounds) was the third Brookfield player to have double-digit rebounds.
“I’m not surprised by that,” DaSilva said about the Bobcats’ rebounding advantage. “We’ve been a great rebounding team all season. Dave (Albanese) is probably one of the best rebounders in the (South-West Conference). It just showed tonight.”
The Warhawks didn’t help themselves, either. They shot just 29.4-percent (20 of 68). They had a 27 to 15 edge in free throw attempts, but missed 11.
“I don’t know how many turnovers we (forced), but we didn’t capitalize on the ones that we got much in the first half,” Barcher said. “We got to the paint almost at will, but (Brookfield) made some blocks. They were physical. We got a lot of foul shots. We missed a lot of free throws.”
The Bobcats led the game for 27:07. DaSilva’s layup gave them a 38-28 lead with 5:23 remaining in the third quarter.
“When we played Immaculate the second time (Feb. 1), we played them at their place,” Fleming said. “There was five seconds left and we were down two, and Lucas Joshi nailed like a 25-footer without even hesitating (for a 61-60 win). I said at that point that something special is going on here.”
DaSilva said, “I had a feeling this was a special team from the beginning. After we lost to Bunnell in the SWC tournament (quarterfinals, 77-58), I don’t know, we did not want to feel that feeling of loss again. We hated that. The locker room was distraught after we lost that game. The plan was to never have that feeling ever again. And that’s what we did.”